A while back I trained as a safe urban driving instructor.
It is part of a goods vehicle driver’s licence that they undergo annual training, there are lots of modules they can do, and one of those is Safer Urban Driving. It is well designed programme, a classroom session and a practical session.
The practical session involves taking the drivers of large goods vehicles out on bikes for 31/2 hour ride to discuss how their driving impacts on vulnerable road users, especially focussing on cyclists.
As result of my experience of this when the Thames Valley Advance drivers contacted the cycle campaign ages ago asking if someone from the campaign would like to come and talk to their members at one of their evening meetings, I was immediately keen to share some of the SUD stuff with them.
After all the principles apply to any driver, it’s just that car drivers don’t have to undergo annual training like goods vehicle drivers do.
I gave the talk to a mix of drivers, some quietly thoughtful, some pleasantly engaged, and some downright hostile. Pretty normal, goods vehicle drivers make up a similar mix!
One of those there was a driving instructor and he asked if I would like to share my talk to them, because if we can get driving instructors to understand how to do it, and pass it on to their students we are maybe on to something.
So I wen to their meeting, I was told to expect quite large numbers, they had a large hall, their meetings were normally very well attended. Sadly this one wasn’t, a bout half as many people as I was led to expect turned up.
But they were the most positive ones, and keen to discuss some of the issues. I was very impressed, the challenges I put to them about where the driver should be at the various locations we discussed if a cyclist was there too were generally very thoughtful.
Even the most challenging one (a right turning cyclist in front of them on a narrow but busy main road in the rush hour in winter on a dark night) elicited the right response.
However when I asked them to tell me what rule 163 of the Highway Code said about overtaking cyclists none of them knew it, just like almost every single goods vehicle driver.
Overall though it was a good evening and well worth doing, and it has lead me to wonder whether perhaps we should do sessions for drivers as a campaign initiative, I wonder if we would get anyone to turn up?