RoSPA Occupational Advanced Driving Test

So I’ve decided to postpone Part 2 of my round-up of 2019 day trips with Bakers Dolphin to bring you something more recent instead. I’ve had a rather testing time of late, but in the best possible sense!

I was asked a couple of months ago whether I’d be interested in doing some driver assessments at work, as part of an ongoing programme to improve the standard of driving. I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted an extra role so I beat around the bush a little before saying that I didn’t feel qualified. In response, some rather nice things were said about the standard of my driving and reference was made to some feedback that had been received over recent months from customers. I was also told that I would be enrolled in a week’s training to equip me for the proposed role which would culminate in an Advanced Driving Test.

After thinking about it for a few days I reckoned that, if my own standard of driving had been recognised and the company was willing to invest in me by putting me through a course, I should take the opportunity to improve my situation. So I said yes, I would go ahead. I had decided that, if I failed any part of the test, I would drop out and continue as a coach driver as before.

Just after the Christmas/New Year break, I sat down with two of my colleagues and prepared for a week of intensive training with Steve, a very experienced driving instructor and examiner from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). The week alternated between classroom-based study and practical sessions out on the road in our training coach.

The syllabus was derived from ‘Roadcraft’, the system used by Police drivers. It was interesting to learn that even the RoSPA name is a misnomer because most ‘accidents’ on the road are caused by human error and are therefore preventable. RoSPA exists to promote better, safer driving and by the end of day one my head was buzzing with all kinds of facts and figures. Did you know, for instance, that UK government statistics show that 62% of fatalities occur on rural roads? And I thought that motorways would top the bill…

Thankfully each day included a couple of sessions on the road, where we took turns to drive while Steve and those not driving observed. This, as you can imagine, was a bit nerve-wracking for the victim in the driving seat. It’s bad enough having your colleagues as passengers but having a RoSPA examiner as well really piles on the pressure!

We tried to include town, rural and motorway driving on our routes so that we could encounter a wide variety of hazards. After each session Steve and those observing made comments on how we dealt with the hazards and highlighted any worrying habits we may have displayed. I’ve always taken pride in the standard of my driving but I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t using my nearside mirror enough while driving.

As the week progressed we prepared to take a written exam and the practical Advanced Driving Test. The week also included training to become a driving assessor. I’m pleased to report that I scored 100% in the written exam which, in reality, was a multiple choice test where the correct answer was usually quite obvious.

Friday, the day of the Advanced Driving Test, found me in my usual state of apprehension. Those who have been following my progress from the beginning will remember that I don’t perform very well in tests.

Michael, the company’s Driving Instructor, kindly let me go first so I got settled and prepared to give Steve the best drive of my life. I took things very steadily, observing and processing everything around me. I tried to make my progress as smooth as possible and react to developing hazards quickly but without a sense of panic. There was a particular mini roundabout in Yatton which had often caught us out, resulting in a nudged or mounted kerb. Thankfully I negotiated this successfully.

After about 45 minutes we arrived back inĀ  Weston and I parked up in the coach park and awaited the verdict with bated breath. Steve wasted no time in telling me that I had passed the Advanced Driving Test and then proceeded to comment on some issues that he had noted on the way round. Yatton featured again here, because I changed up a gear approaching a pinch point in the main street when there was clearly traffic approaching in the other direction, which made me change down again straight away. That’s how picky the examiner has to be in this test!

There were one or two other minor observations but even so Steve told me that I had still achieved the Gold grade. I was very relieved as you can guess! My two colleagues also passed, one with a Gold and one with a Silver.

Within days I found myself assessing other drivers and, at the time of writing, I am still working through the entire driving workforce on Annual Assessments.

Main pic (for attention only) shows a 2019-plate Mercedes-Benz Tourismo, recently acquired by Bakers Dolphin. Pic taken the day it came out of the paint shop.

Coming soon:
My first heritage bus duty of the year – a wedding in Clevedon with a Bristol FS6G.

2 comments on “RoSPA Occupational Advanced Driving Test

  1. Alan Bond says:

    Well done John, not an easy thing to do as I know from experience when I was a psv instructor. It was a three week course with Les Williamson of Greater Manchester Buses back in 1987 and did he put us through the mill. I was a little more prepared in that I had a mate who was a police sergeant in the MET back in 1962 not long after I passed my car test and he got me on a police roadcraft course with the instructors from the Hendon police training college just round the corner from where I lived at Colindale.Not so much what you know as who you know. It was an eye opener I can tell you and it included an hour or so on the skid pan with a Wolseley 6/110, which was hair raising to say the least but good fun and experience at the same time. I later passed my psv first time at Chiswick training school in 1964 with a drive of an hour and a qurater around inner West London ending up at Hyde Park Corner. It all stood me in good stead for the Manchester training course in ’87 as well as the refresher in 1991, both of which included a commentary drive, not something which I am exactly great at. The Met instructor and the LT man drummed into me that you NEVER know the road because the situation on it always changes but you MUST know your vehicle and you must READ the road. It’s kept me alive anyway. My view is that while we have driving schools run for profit we will never have safe enough roads because they never turn anyone away no matter how bad they are and they keep putting them in for tests until they pass because that is their livelihood. When I worked as an instructor for Alder Valley/Bee Line, we used to turn away 70% of applicants for training because their driving skills were so poor. We were able to do so because we got paid regardless of whether we were out on the road training or not. As a result our first time pass rate among four instructors averaged out at 97%. When I see some of the many clowns on the road these days I am appalled at the poor grasp of simple principles that the majority display. It is nothing short of a miracle that there are not far more deaths on the roads with such slapdash driving. My late father drove for 68 years and never had an accident of any kind either in his work as a lorry driver on in his car because he treated his driving licence as a privilege and not a right and he got his licence in 1930, before the driving test was introduced. His only driving test was taken in 1976 when he upgraded his HGV licence to a class 1 and he passed that first time at the age of 63. His clean record wasn’t down to luck but to watching the other fellow and learning something new on the road every day. You’re never too experienced to learn as I have found out over the last 55 years since I passed my first psv test. I just wonder where the years have gone. See if you can con JP into lending out a bus for the Dunster shuttles this summer and I will happily stand behind you as your conductor – I might not be able to walk very well but I can still stand up and climb a few stairs !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s