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.