2015 saw the 80th anniversary of the introduction of the UK driving test. Quite a lot happened in 1935: Cat’s-eyes were first used on roads (invented in 1933, before anyone says anything), Penguin books published their first volume, Sir Malcolm Campbell set a new land speed record and a certain Mr J Beene passed his driving test, the first person to do so. It cost him the equivalent of 37.5p. Things have moved on a lot since then, especially the cost of taking your driving test which works out at about a million pounds per attempt these days.
We have no way of knowing if Mr Beene was a good driver or not; in that regard the test only requires a driver to meet a set of pretty antiquated rules and she or he can be let loose on our crowded roads. The individual may be a qualified driver but, if the latest evidence is to be believed, not necessarily a good driver. This is especially true when we learn that despite our very safe cars the death rate on our roads has risen by three percent.
The reasons for this are something that DriveWrite has discussed recently so I won’t dwell. Suffice to say that it isn’t good enough and it must be time to wonder if the test should be harder and, importantly, include a probationary period for novices to perhaps iron out bad habits.
If like me you have had your licence for a long time it is conceivable that you too have developed bad habits. For all I know, I might have too although, as I’m sure you will agree, this isn’t very likely.
As things stand at the moment we don’t have to take another test but maybe we should not just sit back with a smirk and let it slide. There is a way for experienced drivers to have their standard assessed and that is by taking the advanced driving test. This is a good idea because an independent expert can give your abilities the once over and you get a refresher course and maybe even learn something.
The trainers and examiners are always highly experienced volunteers and have a passion for driving they wish to share with others. At the end of your assessment you may also think they are vindictive swine but that will be down to you.
The training itself aims to take in all different road types and environments where possible, and will look at positioning, smoothness, safety, eco-driving and perhaps a better understanding of the newer technologies fast being introduced into our vehicles. Once the professional training is out of the way you can then take an advanced test which is often with an independent examiner. It takes about ninety minutes to complete and, as you are given the feedback and result immediately you can immediately adopt a smug expression and a sense of pride. If you’re lucky (and don’t hold your breath on this one) you might even get favourable insurance rates although even as I typed that I had a mental picture of car insurance ‘advisors’ wiping tears of cruel laughter out of their eyes. Should it be necessary, you can take the test again but failure isn’t an option is it?
Despite all the latest safety kit on our motors it is still entirely possible to die on the roads, killed by one of those inattentive idiots who are too busy chatting on their phones to pay attention to the tonne or so of speeding metal in their charge.
Skilled, appropriate and defensive driving will save you money and save your life. Advanced driving instruction is not designed to spoil your driving pleasure but it will enhance it. If you can afford it get on Google and give it a go. Geoff Maxted