Stephen Carr is a former close protection non-commissioned officer in the Royal Military Police. He is now the Chairman of the Institute of Advanced Motorists Derbyshire Motorcyclists group. He holds IAM F1rst and RoSPA Gold qualifications, and passed the IAM Masters course, the highest civilian advanced motoring qualification, with a distinction.
There are many good reasons why the classic vehicle enthusiast should take addition care when driving their car or motorbike. In the past, vehicle braking systems were not as efficient as today’s cars and bikes. Tyres were generally less effective at holding the road, and if the worst happened, safety systems designed to protect the driver or passengers in the event of a crash were not as advanced as today.
One way to mitigate against these disadvantages is to notice more about what is going on around you- gaining an information advantage. That way, you can make sure your position, speed gear and acceleration are appropriate, giving you time to react safely. Here are some tips to gaining that information.
Use all your senses.
An advanced motorist uses all his or her senses to gain as much information as possible: it could be a smell from a field with mud on the roads - could there be a tractor nearby? A street lined with wheelie bins - is there a dustbin lorry on the rounds? A queue of passengers at a bus stop - will that bus in front suddenly stop? And so on…
Look beyond your ‘bubble’.
Many motorists are just aware of the small bubble occupied by them and their car or bike. The advanced motorist looks further- looking across bends or looking deeper in the rear view mirrors to see what is going on behind them. Do the telegraph poles signal an unmarked junction ahead, or a tight bend?
Know how to read the road.
It is amazing how much information is given by road signs and markings, and how few drivers really understand all of them. Do you know that when the lines in the middle of the road lengthen and the gaps shorten, there is a hazard ahead? Or that edge lines (the white lines along the side of the carriageway) may be used in areas where hazards are likely, such as areas prone to fog or mist? These signs are constantly improved, but how many of us have read the Highway Code since we passed our test?
Keep your concentration.
By keeping distractions to a minimum (phones, radios, passengers!) you can concentrate better on your driving, especially on motorway journeys, where long periods of concentration may be necessary. Plan your trips so you don’t have to rush.
Accept other people’s mistakes.
We all make mistakes, and some people are just poor drivers. Make allowances for this in your driving plans- it doesn’t matter whether you are in the right if you’ve still had an accident.
If you would like to know more, why not look on the Institute of Advanced Motorists website to see what courses are available. Alternatively, there are three main publications that can help you learn the theory of the system: The Highway Code; Roadcraft, The Police Riders Handbook; and Know Your Traffic Signs. Practical driving should really be done with a trained Observer, someone who has passed an advanced driving test and will know how to correct your faults.
With advanced skills, you will enjoy your motoring much more, I guarantee it!