It is just a few weeks before the kids finish the summer school term and the mad rush begins to the holiday hot spots. Apart from the rowdy kids and the never ending traffic queues, there is one thing we can be certain about – us road safety professionals will be issuing the same old ‘Top Summer Driving Tips’.

Yet again we will say:

. Always prepare your car before leaving on a long journey. Check tyres, brakes, windscreen wash, lights, oil and water levels prior to setting off.

. Ensure you make regular stops – at least fifteen minutes every two hours.

The list will go on, with the same advice we have given year after year.

Feeling it was time to be different, this week at our monthly staff meeting I asked the team what great tips we should put in this year’s list.

One person replied, “Why bother at all – after all, no one ever reads these lists. They’re just companies trying to get their name in the trade press to win more clients by pretending they’ve got something different to offer. Why would we want to join that bun fight?”

My first thoughts were – OK, perhaps you are right. But, on the other hand, surely doing nothing won’t help the road safety cause either.

So, after a long debate about the value of putting out press releases and driving tips, we did a search on the internet to see what others were saying, and surprise, surprise, most people were saying the same old things – but there were those offering new advice and I wondered where their road safety or driver training expertise lay to claim that they knew best.

At the end of the day, fatalities on the UK roads are falling. The latest 2010 stats are down to 1857 a fall of 16% from 2,222 in 2009. This the lowest figure since national records began in 1926. So we must be getting it right. And if the tried and trusted messages and techniques work, why are people trying to reinvent the wheel?

The reality is that times are tough. And when times are tough, companies begin to sit round the boardroom table to see how they can win more clients, to stand out with better products and services and to have that all elusive USP.

It’s got nothing to do with road safety – its simply looking for competitive edge. They then get their marketing teams to put out press releases saying all sorts of headline grabbing statements when the underlying agenda is ‘spend money with us’, not ‘this approach will save more lives’.

I am in business and know very well that we all have to sell our products and services, which needs the marketing and PR chaps to promote. However, at heart I am a trainer and what I wouldn’t like to see is driver training change just because we want a few headlines or that vital USP.

We have taught driving since the first motor car rolled out of the factory using tried and tested principles. Do we now need to start applying more academic philosophy, more psychometric analysis and more quirky, unproven approaches to make us or our companies stand out as being the best? What we should do if we want better drivers is provide an advanced/defensive driving course (again they are marketed as separate courses, but are the same) every few years, but with regular reminders through top tips, e-learning modules or simply discussing at work driving in team meetings. It works and history supports this.

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