May 16th, 2008

Happy Days

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

One of the best courses I ever did was the advanced driving course. Five weeks of tear-arsing around the countryside of the UK in an adrenalin-rushed bewilderment.

Most of the course was 9 – 5, although we did do a few evening runs. It also involved a little classroom work to learn ‘the System of car Control’; the police bible for driving since it was first introduced around the time that someone had to walk in front of a motor vehicle waving  red flag.

The idea behind the course is basically to enable you to make progress up the road as safely as possible under any & all conditions. The by-product is that you drive all kinds of roads fast, very fast. It wasn’t unusual to reach speeds of 130 to 140mph all done in unmarked vehicles.

We also had skid-pan training where you had to drive round an oval track sideways. When I did it we didn’t have any of these fancy wheel-rigs attached to the car, we had a car with bald tyres & a surface covered in oil with water sprayed on to it constantly.

If you passed the course, you then had a couple of days of pursuit training which was spent chasing an instructor around the highways & byeways of the county.

Although much was at high speed, this was only ever in derestricted areas. If you went 1mph over in a 30 or 40 mph limit there was a fine system which usually took the form of buying the donuts or cakes at the next tea stop.

To say the course was intense would be something of an understatement. I’ve not been so tired on a shift system as working 5 weeks of 9 – 5. Locking the brakes as you hurtle along a country lane at 95mph (as one of my colleagues did much to my laundry lady’s annoyance) certainly concentrates the mind.

Then there’s the commentaries. If you don’t know what they are – I think anyone who has done the Institute of Advanced Motorist course, you will – check out this police motorcycle video . You basically have to describe every thought process & decision you make during the course of a journey.

I did my course some time ago. You can tell this when I say that the vehicles we used were Vauxhall Senators, BMWs, Ford Sierra 4x4s & Cosworths & Volvos.

You’re supposed to be ‘refreshed’ on the advanced course every few years, I was never refreshed once & I think I’m probably in the majority. I’ve still got my advanced licence though I’ve not driven a police vehicle for months.

It’s the one thing I miss about not working on the streets.

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8 comments

  1. Stuart says:

    That was quite interesting..
    Question regarding what to do if you’re faced with a police car:
    Say you’re waiting to turn right at a junction, and coming towards you is a police car/bike etc.
    To say “I’ve seen you and I’m not going to move” would you flash your lights or just do nothing?
    On one hand it lets the driver know, but highway code etc. says you don’t flash anyone else in case you haven’t noticed something unsafe for the oncoming driver.

    May 17th, 2008 at 01:16

  2. Dickiebo says:

    Stuart; Flashing one’s lights merely means that your lights are working. Personally, under those circumstances, I would cancel my indicator, showing that I was NOT going to turn in front of the police car, but…..it is up to the police driver to react to the situation, not you.

    May 17th, 2008 at 10:35

  3. some bloke says:

    Nice post, a real insight, thank you. Sorry to hear about the lack of refreshers.

    In my city we have this tasty unmarked car that sometimes rips around the place with its’ siren blazing and a temporary blue on its’ roof. I used to think, ‘Wow , how exiting, undercover cops on a mission ! Must be big to expose their cover’ ( too much watching The Sweeney ) until someone pointed out that it was in fact the Police training car doing Urban Pursuit.

    I drive around quite a bit and like to think that I am one of those MOP drivers that take note of an emergency siren perhaps some way off and try to anticipate what to do should it come my way, as per Highway Code and good manners.
    At the red lights it seems to me that it is generally the company car drivers, taxis, wide boys and white van men that catch each others eye, mount the kerb, jump the red, cut into a lane and generally do whatever is necessary to get out of the way while Mrs. Nicelady in her Sensible Car sits frigid in Law Abiding correctness and horror as the Fire Engine/Police Car/Ambulance blasts its’ frustration up her a**e.

    May 17th, 2008 at 16:13

  4. Reactively Proactive says:

    I have never done the advanced driving course but would love a crack at it (only problrm is I hate trafic matters so will prob never get the chance). I like the sound of beat the train. You park up at the station as an intercity is setting off and try and beat it to its destination some 200 miles away. The basic course also includes the skidpan with oil slick ground and rear wheel Omega. That was a whole heap of fun!!

    May 17th, 2008 at 18:30

  5. Reactively Proactive says:

    I hate it that much I even spell traffic wrong!!

    May 17th, 2008 at 18:31

  6. Ex-RUC says:

    You want to try doing a pursuit in an armoured LandRover, top speed 45mph but really 90mph, with a crew of four petrified in the back!! I can tell you, it’s not you doing the commentary!

    May 17th, 2008 at 22:34

  7. Stuart says:

    Thanks, Dickiebo.
    What if I’m the only car sitting to turn right and that’s what the police car wants to do? I presume if the inside lane is blocked I’d cancel the indicator and just move forward, and sit tight if the rest is free?
    Best to be sure instead of either crashing or irritating someone. Hurrah newish drivers

    May 18th, 2008 at 00:10

  8. Vicki says:

    Just as an aside, our force runs refreshers for advanced drivers who are using the training every 3 years. Therefore I will be checked every 3 years while i remain a traffic officer. once i leave the department I wont be checked, but I will still be an advanced driver (bit not driving fast cars!)

    May 25th, 2008 at 01:47

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