As an Advanced Driver it is tempting to think that you have nothing else to learn. However, as with anything in life the learning doesn't stop - each time you get behind the wheel you will face a new situation and, at the end of it, have hopefully broadened your knowledge and understanding. This is certainly true for me and, one thing that Observer training has given me, is the chance to re-assess the fundamentals of advanced driving, correct some bad habits that had started to develop and build some new skills in.
The third training run involved us as trainees devising a longer run, incorporating all types of roads if possible as well as the manoeuvres. During the motorway part of my drive I got to refresh my knowledge of dedicated lanes and the correct way of approaching them (a topic which is covered in the Sunday session on 'Motorway Driving') when I inadvertently undertook a lorry. Although it is legal to undertake in a dedicated lane that is leaving the motorway, the lane only becomes dedicated when the lane markings change to the short frequent white squares (usually at the half mile marker). Prior to this point the normal rules of the motorway apply and you should only pass vehicles on their right.
Another vital learning point, especially for a future observer, which arose during the session was how easily and quickly an Associate can get flustered if they do something wrong. Usually this causes them to compound the initial mistake so that, unless you're careful, a flawless run can very quickly turn into a disaster in the making; it is amazing how a simple mistake such as missing a turning can lead to them stopping at a green traffic light because they've mistaken it for red! In that situation I found that it was best to gently re-assure and highly praise the next time something went right, thus building the confidence back up and providing an anchor upon which the rest of the run can be secured.
The final bit of learning that this training session gave me was the importance of checking the route at the time (and if possible on the same day of the week) that you're planning on using it. A 45 minute run at 9am on a Saturday morning may turn into an hour or more at 11am on a Sunday morning once traffic and roadworks come into play. This can be the difference between having enough time to do the run sheet justice at the end, so that the Associate leaves with a clear understanding of what they did well and what they need to improve, or having to rush through it and potentially skirt over some key issues.
My training is now nearly complete with potentially one more practice run before being allowed to advise (under supervision) Associates. Future posts will therefore try and focus more on what I see and experience during the normal Sunday sessions.
Neil Lakeland - Trainee Observer.
Follow this link if you missed part one and two of Neil's blog on observer training.
If your a member of the Mid-Kent Group of Advanced Motorist and wish to follow in the footsteps of Neil, please contact John Bowman. If your not a member, and wish to take on the challenge of advance motoring, why not join us? Contact us by email or apply now on the web