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John's Blog Posts

My oldest friend has written a book

When I say my oldest friend has written a book. I mean the friend I’ve known the longest, not the most elderly friend I have. “My Brother’s Bicycle: Enfield to Athens on a Tandem… by Les Stanley” recounts not just the trip mentioned in the title but various travels and travails around the world.

I should mention that I get a mention. Not polite, not pretty and unnecessarily cruel, I’m sure you will spot it. The book is sometimes spiritual, although I don’t think gin is mentioned. Sometimes thought provoking, though not so much as to give the reader a headache. Sometimes exasperating, tales of putting bikes on trains in France & Italy demonstrate the folly, in my opinion, of two-wheeled travel!

The style is conversational and very amusing. Les manages to put you in his shoes and gives you the opportunity to pedal along in his wake. A great read – highly recommended.

Available in a print or electronic format from Amazon and all good bookshops and some pretty crummy ones too.

 

This is the authors description of the book:

This book describes a journey of contemplation and misadventure as I re-live a bicycle trip I first embarked on as a fresh faced 20 year old. It was more than 40 years ago that I originally mounted the tandem and headed south with a guy I had met at Liverpool Street station a few days earlier. Rod Stewart was still on his third marriage. The channel tunnel was just a dream and only a few years had passed since Man first walked on the Moon. For the re-run I was better prepared, or so I thought. An electric bike as opposed to a clunky old tandem with barely functioning gears, and, as you’ll read in the book, limited braking capabilities. A GPS to guide me and help find accommodation. I even had a helmet and a trendy cycling shirt. I’d drawn the line at padded lycra shorts though. A far cry from the T-shirt, cut-off Levis, tattered maps and soggy campsites of my previous ride. And this time my wife was coming with me, not some guy called Alan from Enfield whom I had met through an ad in Time Out magazine. What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

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Memories… a meander down memory lane

At the MSA GB 2019 National Conference I was invited to share some memories of mine and Carol’s time with the MotorSchools Association of Great Britain (MSA GB) and these words reflect that  presentation and an article in the May 2019 issue of Newslink. 

As well as our own story, this meander down memory lane gives me a chance to consider the many changes that have taken place within the driver training and testing sector since I became an ADI in 1977 and started working for MSA GB in 1984.

Ford Escort RUV142R (1977)

So where did it start for Carol and me? After knowing each other for a couple of months we got engaged and then married six months later in July 1975; in 1976 our first daughter, Karen, was born.

In 1977 I took my first steps into the world of driver training, when I joined BSM and qualified as an ADI, later becoming manager at the BSM Branch in Wigan.

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Memories… when the lawyers call

VAT Part 1

No one who has managed an organisation such as the MSA GB can get away without coming up against some legal challenges from time to time, writes John Lepine. Let’s start back in 1989 with VAT.

When VAT started in 1973, it would appear, from what few records survive, that the association was more concerned about the effect this would have on members than its possible impact on MSA GB.

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Memories… regrets and the best bits

A look back at the low points, missed opportunities and a few of the best bits from the past 35 years. 

THEORY TRAINING

When a separate theory test was introduced in 1996 it should have been accompanied by some compulsory theory training. A second chance to introduce this was missed in 2002 when the hazard perception element was introduced into the car theory test. Without legislation it has proved impossible to persuade students into a classroom environment.

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Memories… Europe

In 2013 I had the honour of being elected President of EFA, the European Driving Schools Association, and was re-elected unopposed three years later. This second term finished on 2nd May 2019 and I did not seek re-election.

Being President has been fascinating. It has given me the opportunity to travel widely across Europe and I have visited about 25 of the 44 European countries, 20 of them in the EU.

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Memories… Look Who’s Talking

This article was published in the Intelligent Instructor magazine titled “Look Who’s Talking John Lepine MBE – The Manager”

A figure to be reckoned with, larger than life and a font of information on all things driver training, and longstanding manager of the MSA, but after 42 years in the business, John Lepine has pulled up on the right and left the vehicle. His retirement not only leaves an unfillable space at the top table of the MSA, but also the top tier of the wider driver training industry in the UK (and even Europe for the time being).

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Brexit for drivers and driver trainers

I thought I would write a bit about Brexit. After all, everybody else is. What happens regarding Brexit will influence road safety and driving in the future.

As we all know the government’s Brexit withdrawal agreement has been defeated for a third time in the House of Commons and the UK and EU have agreed a delay to 31 October. But what difference does that make to drivers and driving instructors?

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New thinking required on our arbitrary speed limits

© GOV.UK

According to statistics released recently, the number of road users who have completed a driver retraining course since their introduction in 2010 has topped ten million. Nine million of these have attended a speed aware course. Inappropriate speed is still a major cause for concern and is a significant problem in many European countries. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) suggests that Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) might be the answer to the problem.

ISA uses a speed sign-recognition video camera and/or GPS-linked speed limit data to advise drivers of the current speed limit and automatically limit the speed of the vehicle as needed.

ISA systems do not automatically apply the brakes, but simply limit engine power preventing the vehicle from accelerating past the current speed limit unless overridden. Vehicles with this kind of ISA system factory fitted are already on sale – helped in part by the Euro NCAP’s decision to reward extra points for vehicles that include ISA.

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World’s safest drivers

Just Tyres have analysed data on the number of road traffic accidents in countries around the world to find out which country has the safest and most dangerous drivers. You can view the findings in their graphic below.

Key points:

  • The safest country in the world to drive in is Norway, with only 20 road deaths per million of the population in 2017
  • Other countries in the top 5 safest countries to drive in include: Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Denmark
  • The most dangerous country in the world to drive in is the USA, followed by Romania and Bulgaria
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It looks like a simple case of problematic quantification

‘Problematic quantification’ is not an expression I can claim to have heard in the past, and it’s certainly not one I’ve ever used myself.

However, at a recent meeting of The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) the expression came up in a discussion about the review of the legal framework for automated vehicles being conducted by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission. The consultation is open until 8th February. If you want to know more, details can be found on the Law Commission website 

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