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Olly Buckle

In the car

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I look at other drivers and wonder, ‘How much driver training have you had? And, what quality was it?” When you pootle along the dual carriageway at forty five to fifty mph in fifth, being, if not ecologically friendly, at least less damaging, there is time and opportunity to reflect and observe. Not that I am purely being holier than thou doing that speed, a fifteen to twenty percent fuel saving is enough to count heavily when you live on a fixed income, and I get more enjoyment from the music on radio three than if I was fighting for a place in the fast lane. Anyway, I digress, I do that quite a lot.

Watching the larger, more powerful, and more expensive cars it becomes obvious that the demographic of their drivers is nearer my age than my daughters. It is obvious really, you have to be older to afford a large luxury saloon in the first place, and unless you are no-one will insure you. These people will have taken their driving tests years ago, cars hve changed since then, and I would give you good odds the vast majority of drivers never even look at a Highway code after passing their test, and that certainly changes.

The driving training has changed too, a new driver nowadays has received far better training than they did, and passed a theory as well as a practical test. Older drivers, of course, argue that they have more experience, and that does count for something, but it is a double edged sword. They have also had longer to forget things like stopping distances, longer to become careless and blasé. Watch them in the fast lane driving at ten, or twenty, miles an hour over the speed limit a couple of car lengths apart, only the boy racers of the younger generation do that.

Modern roads are safer, especially the motorways, but when something happens it happens big time, one rarely passes a two car collision on the motorway, there will be four or five of them parked along the hard shoulder with chunks taken out of them. Modern cars are safer too, with air bags and collapsible compartments you can have a high speed collision, or roll off the road, and the driver will walk away, but the car he paid tens of thousands of pounds for will never go anywhere again.

There are lots of negatives to encourage advanced training, but there are some real positives as well. When I did my RoSPA test on a motorcycle the instructor I had a really great week. My instructor was a retired fireman, great guy, truly interesting and enthusiastic, and the others involved were like him, the pupils, the examiner, everyone.

The RoSPA and IAM tests will get you a percentage discount off your insurance, well worth it in quite a short time, and of course there are other courses where you can learn more exciting things, like handbrake turns, avoiding kidnappers, and how to avoid getting boxed in and shot by over enthusiastic firearms officers. A week’s advanced driving course can offer a holiday in interesting company and great scenery, (They are often in nice places), save you money, give you added confidence, and make you more knowledgeable than Clarkson when you talk about driving, go for it, mad if you don’t.

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  1. midnightpoet's Avatar
    Yeah, I passed my only driving test in 1959, and I'll admit a refresher course would be good for me. After all, there's probably a lot of rules in that little book I studied that have changed since then - like the warning ticket I got not long ago for not moving into the outside lane when I passed a couple of cops on the side of the road with a semi. Plus, of course, I tend to forget stuff.
  2. bdcharles's Avatar
    I absolutely floored it on the ice today; pedal to the metal, no messing. To be fair I got to the top of the hill where loads of lesser drivers were backsliding #manshit
  3. Winston's Avatar
    I don't think it's lack of ability for most, it's lack of effort.
    No one focuses on the actual driving anymore. It's become too easy and there are too many distractions.
  4. JustRob's Avatar
    When we bought our Honda Civic Type R we were given a free day's driving instruction with a former police driving instructor, the type that trains the police in high speed pursuit driving. He was working for one of the companies that assess staff required to drive in the course of their work, but in this case it was to ensure that we were competent to drive a Type R high performance car. Honda were very responsible about their Type R cars. Nobody under age 25 was even allowed to take one out on a test drive. We were mainly concerned about how comfortable the ride was, so told the salesman to find the bumpiest place to drive the car. As a result we ended up driving it very slowly around a supermarket car park with traffic calming bumps. He said that it was the weirdest test drive of a Type R he'd ever encountered. Of course I had a performance Honda already, so had no doubts about the performance of the new one.

    As a result of the day out both my angel and I got certificates of our driving ability and some useful tips from the police instructor on good driving techniques. It was certainly worthwhile and of course it didn't cost us anything, apart from the price of a Type R.

    We are very steady drivers but when the circumstances demand we know that that car can get us out of any sort of trouble. The police instructor told us to forget about normal stopping distances because it could stop in half the distance of that for a normal car. That is reassuring to know and a benefit of performance cars that may not be so obvious.

    We only really bought it because we wanted a Honda and all their other cars at the time had five doors and we only wanted three, so had to have the top of the range Type R. Tough choice. I think it was my angel who actually said that we should buy it when she saw the red rally seats, leather steering wheel, tinted windows, double exhaust ... Funny that, considering that when we bought the previous Honda she wouldn't even test drive it because it was so powerful compared to our previous cars. Although it is officially my car - she has a convertible - I am very happy to let her drive it, not just because she is a good driver but also because when other drivers see a blonde driving a Type R they give way to her politely and cheerfully. There could be a number of reasons for that ...
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