Graham Hurdle blog: 18 February - How do you rate yourself as a driver?
18 February 2015
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Ask most people how they rate themselves as a driver and, on a scale of 10 being excellent and 1 being poor, many of us would say between 7 and 8; which basically means everyone is 'above average'.
A lot of fleet trainers ask this question before and after training, and having over rated their capabilities prior to going out on the road, many drivers will reluctantly admit that "Maybe I was actually a 3 or 4 before training but now I am a 6 or 7!"
So why do we all think we are above average drivers?
Think about your last journey. How many good drivers do you remember? Now think how many poor drivers you recall. The driver who cut you up, the driver who was speeding, the driver that pulled out just ahead of you?
Statistically there are many more good drivers than poor drivers, but we only remember the bad ones, because dangerous or inconsiderate manoeuvres are easier to spot. How often have you thought to yourself, 'That driver is correctly positioned and driving at an appropriate speed for the conditions'! The answer is 'Never'! How often do we think, 'What on earth is that idiot doing?' Quite often!
But there's another dimension to this. Are people that speed, pull out or cut you up 'knowingly' driving badly? Or do they not understand the road laws? Who is to say that a driver going too fast isn't aware of the speed limit? How do you know that the driver who pulls out doesn't think it's their right of way? It's not an excuse for their behaviour but they may be oblivious to their misdemeanor.
What concerns me is that, as a nation, there is so little Government investment in ongoing road safety, and driver information. In fact, most proposals, such as Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin's call for an end to 'pointless' signs, seems to be towards reductions rather than improvements.
At present if there is a system of street lights, the speed is 30mph unless signs indicate another speed limit. The number of drivers I speak to who do not know this is shocking.
If there are no street lights and no speed signs, the speed limit is the national limit i.e. 60mph for cars and light vans, 40mph for HGVs (see Highway Code for other vehicle limits). Again, many drivers do not know this.
Many years ago my company carried out research on how many road signs drivers see. Our trainers asked "What was the last sign?" The trainers were instructed to ask the question as soon as they had passed it. The results were frightening, the average was that only 6 out of 100 signs were noticed.
In E-Training World's online driver profiling system, the biggest area of high risk is in 'Knowledge' - drivers not knowing the basic road signs and laws.
The upshot is that poor driving is not always just down to a person's inability to drive. It can also be about their lack of knowledge of what's expected of them.