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Graham Hurdle's blog: 4 April 2014 - That's not how I learned to drive

Date: 04 April 2014

Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World

I read with interest that Hindhead tunnel staff has reported over 100 vehicles per hour driving past a red cross above a lane.

If you haven't read the Highway Code recently, a red cross above a lane means it is closed from that point.

It's just another reminder of why all drivers should keep up to date with their driving knowledge, and as an employer you have a duty of care to ensure they do so.

After all, would you allow workers to use other dangerous equipment in the workplace if their knowledge and training had lapsed many years ago?

The harsh reality is that many driving instructors involved in post-test training will tell you that drivers who go on defensive driver training courses often say, "that's not what I was taught when I learned to drive."

The response to this should be, "that's why it's essential to re-train you", because like most things in life, driving has developed. Technology has improved, roads have been redesigned and the Highway Code and the law have changed. 

Vehicles are far more advanced than they used to be and when driving tests first began there were no legal controls over, or requirements for, the training, examination or qualification of those carrying out the teaching.

It was only following strong representation by the Motor Schools Association, through its then president, Sir Harwood Harrison, that the format of an initial voluntary register was passed by Parliament.

The voluntary register continued on this basis until January 1970 when a sufficient number of instructors had qualified voluntarily, to warrant Government compulsion of the Register.

Since then, road designs have changed and the volume of traffic has vastly increased. We now have four or more lanes on some motorways, the hard shoulder in certain areas is used as a lane to ease congestion and, through changes in town planning, we've seen developments to the way road systems work in built up areas.

The Highway Code has also changed many times since it was first issued in 1931. Back then it contained just 18 pages of advice, compared to 135 pages in the 2007 edition.

The upshot is a vast number of drivers on our roads who are still basing their driving on what they were taught "in the old days", and many have never read the Highway Code.

So, if you haven't tested your drivers' knowledge of the recently it's worth doing. By asking each driver to complete an online driver risk assessment it can be done quickly and efficiently.

By doing so, you'll also be evaluating their attitude, observation and hazard perception skills too.

Don't wait for your drivers to have an accident before you take action. One of those drivers ignoring the warning of a red cross in the Hindhead tunnel could be on your fleet.



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