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John's Blog Posts

A spoke in the wheel for government’s ADI cycle training scheme

Readers of this blog will recall that the minister with the brief to cover road safety and cycling, Jesse Norman, announced a £500K project in August that will offer ADIs training to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers. Teaching driver trainers how to teach learners now to handle cyclist.

Bikeability, the organisation which is going to run the scheme, has made its purpose clear: ‘the pilot will test different approaches to improving ADI awareness of cycling in order to prepare learner drivers of car-type vehicles better for sharing the road with cyclists.’

Waste of money or an interesting road safety imitative? Clearly, any investment in ADI training should be welcomed by ADIs. However, I wonder if this is the best use of resources. West Midlands Police was the first force in the country to proactively target ‘close pass ‘drivers who endanger riders. Highway Code rule 163 includes the following advice: ‘Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.’

Anyone encroaching inside that safe passing distance – widely considered to be a minimum of 1.5 metres – runs the risk of being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

The West Midlands pilot saw police officers saddle up on some of the busiest routes looking out for motorists who put cyclists at-risk. They radio ahead the details of close-pass drivers for in-car colleagues to stop drivers, who are then offered a little spot of roadside educational input on safe overtaking. Repeat offenders, or anyone deemed to have driven dangerously close to a cyclist, can expect to be prosecuted and taken to court. West Midlands Police kindly provided me with details of the numbers of drivers in various age ranges who had been stopped over a one-year period.

I have compared those figures with the ages of those who pass their driving tests over a similar one-year period. You can see the results in the table above.

Around 65 per cent of those passing their driving tests are aged under 25, yet fewer than two per cent of those stopped for riding too close were in that age range. Of those stopped for driving too close, nearly 23 per cent were over 60. That age group makes up about 0.2 per cent of those passing a driving test.

What does this mean? You decide. It’s either:

  • This scheme targeting ADIs is a waste of money because ADIs are doing a fantastic job of teaching new drivers how to deal with vulnerable road users. It’s just a shame that the previous generation going back a few decades didn’t do the same… or that our drivers forget what we teach them as time passes by.

OR

  • The theory test carries enough questions on how drivers should deal with vulnerable road users to ensure they have the correct knowledge base – and that’s why so few novice drivers are featuring in the police lists.

OR

  • Today’s young people are much more aware of others and do not have the built-in inclination, often found in older generations, to bully others because of their race, their colour, their sexuality – or the mode of transport they use (a crushing point for those older readers; the younger generation are perhaps more decent and tolerant than ours).

You decide.

Another interesting figure from West Midlands Police; of those stopped for close passing, 65 per cent were males and 35 percent females.

So here’s my two-pen ‘Orth. I’d suggest this cash is poorly targeted; it’s not the younger learners we need to chat to, and certainly not the younger female drivers, but older (45+) blokes.

Are you listening, Mr Norman? Put Brexit fun and games to one side for a moment and redirect the cash to an over forty fives driver-education scheme.

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Time to change gear

 

Claire, Karen, Carol & John Lepine. Buckingham Palace 1991

My wife Carol and I have decided that, after 35 years of working for the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain, the time has come for us to have a change of gear and we plan to retire soon after the association’s National Conference in Nottingham in March.

We hope to see as many MSA GB members there as possible so that we can thank you for the fantastic support we have received over the years.

I will not be standing for the role of President of the European Driving Schools Association (EFA) when my period of office comes to an end in May next year.

After we retire we hope to do some travelling and have a proper look at some of the places we have only been to for flying visits, spend some time in the garden and generally relax.

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What’s the best way to look after most vulnerable road users?

In May (Everyone has an opinion on road safety I reported that I had attended a meeting to discuss the Department of Transport ‘Call for Evidence Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Safety Review’.

That meeting was attended by a wide variety of stakeholders including representatives from transport operators, cycling and walking organisations, associations representing other road users, disability groups, road safety professionals, researchers and academics, community health bodies, ADIs, cycle trainers, and other interested parties.

Following on from that Call for Evidence wit emerged in August that ADIs were to be offered bespoke training to ensure cyclists’ safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers, as part of the Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking Safety Review. The review’s aim is to make walking and cycling the natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer one, rather than driving. This, of course, fits into the higher order skills outlined in the GDE Matrix Level Three “modal choice”

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Cyclical road safety campaigns

 

An ophthalmologist examining her patient’s eyes

Over the years there have been various campaigns to toughen up road safety standards. Like so many campaigns, however, things tend to be cyclical and come around several times before anything is done.

Here are a handful of examples that immediately spring to mind to prove my point:

Single/Double British Summertime (SDST)

Campaigners say that one of the consequences of the UK’s current time system is that more people are killed and injured on the road because of darker evenings in the autumn and winter than there would be if we used SDST.

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No pupils? Don’t believe everything you read!

Proportion of people holding a full driving licence

During July the Department for Transport produced a whole heap of data on who holds a driving licence and why some don’t want to. The figures are part of the statistics and data about the National Travel Survey, which is based on an annual survey to monitor trends in personal travel.

One of the big stories coming out of the figures was a perception that ADIs were going to struggle in the future, as young people were losing interest in learning to drive. Indeed, that story made it on to Radio 5 Live. Yet in fact the actual findings painted a very different story, as I will explain.

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Transport Tribunal makes landmark ruling

The Transport Tribunal – that’s the body that ADIs can appeal to, if the ADI Registrar decides to remove them from the register, and is more properly known as the First-tier Tribunal, (General Regulatory Chamber) Transport – has recently published something of a landmark decision in an appeal.

The case in question was heard in April but the ruling has only recently been released. It involved an ADI appealing against his removal from the register and marks, as far as I can recall, the first time the Tribunal has dismissed an appeal against such a decision even though it involved no criminal or motoring convictions. The tribunal found that the appellant (the ADI) could not satisfy the statutory requirement to be a ‘fit and proper person’.

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Everyone has an opinion on road safety

Picture: By Rovernut

I recently attended a meeting called by the Department of Transport to discuss its Call for Evidence Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Safety Review.

The meeting was attended by a wide variety of stakeholders including representatives from transport operators, cycling and walking organisations, associations representing other road users, disability groups, road safety professionals, researchers and academics, community health bodies, cycle trainers, and other interested parties.

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Graduated licences do have my support

Images of the word gradual from www.canacopegdl.com

John Miller, author of the Driving Instructor’s Handbook and someone whose views I have long respected, recently took me to task for not being more supportive of the idea of Graduated Driver Licencing (GDL).

I don’t think that’s necessarily true; indeed, I think I have on behalf of MSA GB supported GDL for many years. Indeed, the following is an extract from the oral evidence I gave on behalf of MSA GB alongside Robin Cummins OBE, road safety consultant, BSM (and previously chief driving examiner); and Steve Grigor, then driving examiners’ branch secretary, PCS Union, to the House of Commons Transport Committee Inquiry into Novice Drivers. It clearly shows that all three of us supported graduated licensing.

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EU equivalence legislation creates subtle change in UK supervising driver rules

The question of who can supervise a learner driver, and in what kind of vehicle, is one that is fraught with difficulties and pitfalls.

As I understood it to supervise a learner in any category a Supervising Driver must: be at least 21 years old; have a full driving licence (for the type of vehicle being used – manual or automatic); have held that valid licence for a minimum of three years; ensure the car is in a safe and legal condition; and meet the minimum eyesight standards.

However, it seems that – and not for the first time – I was wrong, and I have received the following statement from the DVSA.

The Driving and Motorcycle Riding Instructors (Recognition of European Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2016 enables instructors from other member states to have their instructor qualification recognised.

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Follow the 5-90-5 rule: it’s a recipe for better social media relations!

See the Footnote concerning Zingerman’s below

In a previous issue of my Blog (published 7th December  2017) and in the January issue of Newslink I wrote about how a short appearance on TV provoked a somewhat fierce response on social media.

Thanks to all those who got in touch, most to say I was not that bad. Dave Vicary, from Liverpool, got in touch and said ‘I have just received my magazine. I have only read the first few pages but I want to say that I disagree with everything derogatory that people on social media have written about John Lepine.

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