D N E
The official magazine of Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists and Motorcyclists
STEERING A COURSE FOR SAFER DRIVING AND RIDING
JOHN F. BLACK
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Group Committee Members for 2008/09 This magazine was published Group President: Tommy Jardine
by the Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists.
Chair, Graeme McColm Chief m/c Obs
Contact the Group Secretary:
Assoc Coordntr Peter Dodds
M/c Coordntr Andrew Bird 01387 259500 Christine Donaldson News Dist. 01576 202805 Events
Stewart Cameron 01387 264005
Charlie Allman Andy Campbell Neil Martynink
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The views expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily To e-mail any member of the committee, please in those of the Editor, Group or the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the first instance, use the group contact e-mail to which the Group is affiliated. address: email@example.com Reg Charity No. SC 023511
What’s on? - check for late changes at www.iamdumfries.org.uk 8 December – TABLE TOP RALLY (using OS Landranger sheet 85). 23 January (Friday) – RACE NIGHT at Dalston House Hotel. Fun night open to members, guests and friends - come along and support your group. Details on p17. Monday 9 February – GARAGE VISIT TO BORDER CARS, Glasgow Street. 7pm Monday 9 March – FUEL PRODUCTION AND PRICING. Jamie Wood from St Michaels service station. Monday 13 April – MANOEUVRABILITY TESTS. Test your skills at the OLD TESCO CAR PARK start time from 6pm Monday 11 May – AGM / Group Quiz All Meetings will be held at Dalston House Hotel, Dumfries start 7:30pm unless otherwise stated. Our work including this magazine is supported by Dumfries & Galloway Council. For a full list of our many sponsors please visit the Sponsors Wall at: www.iamdumfries.org.uk
© Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
The Chairman’s comments - Graeme McColm Welcome to the Winter edition of our Advance Magazine. This has been a busy time for us all. Although the nights are drawing in and the weather has not improved since we last went to print it hasn’t stopped us from continuing our good work. We have had numerous people taking part in both car and bike courses and hope to continue with both throughout the winter. Congratulations to all those who have passed their tests. Our Observers, both car and bike have all been busy, the word is getting around and we are growing at quite a pace. Thankfully drivers and bikers are coming to us for courses and information, which is a nice change, long may it continue. We have been lucky enough to be allocated a place on the “Road Safety Partnership Meeting“, which gives us an insight into road safety strategies. Jamie Wood (Vice Chairman) attended the first meeting on 6 October at Fire and Rescue headquarters in Dumfries and has reported back to us positively on the ideas and improvements for the region’s roads. The winter programme of events is in full swing with lots of interesting nights ahead. Check out the “what’s on” section or visit our web site at www.iamdumfries.org.uk for details. Sometimes circumstances force us to make last minute changes to our programme of events but whenever possible we’ll endeavour to update the web site with the latest information. We are truly into winter time now that the clocks have gone back so the spotlight is on us all to drive and ride safely, with the potential for snow and ice just around the next corner, let’s be careful out there. Finally, please remember that our aim is to reduce accidents and increase road safety, if you know of anybody who would benefit from a “Skill for Life” course please encourage them to get in touch. You may also be interested to hear the IAM are offering Skill for Life Christmas gift packs for drivers and riders, you can find out more details on page 13 of this magazine. Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Safe drivers are made, not born The IAM Motoring Trust have recently published a report into the safety of young drivers, looking at where and when they are most at risk. The report is available to download, free of charge from the IAM web site (www.iam.org.uk). It identifies the particular risks associated with young drivers by comparing statistics with other age groups on the road. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
Three significant factors dictate how people drive, and their likelihood of being in a crash: Age – drivers under 25 have an exceptionally high risk; the risk is greatest for drivers under 20, who are the most inexperienced. Experience – the risk of being in a crash peaks immediately after passing the C driving test, and declines steadily over the following 12 months and beyond, as new drivers learn from their solo driving experiences. Gender – younger male drivers are up to twice as likely to be in a crash as younger females. There is no typical road crash, but there are conditions in which younger drivers have a greater proportion of crashes than older drivers: Ÿ Older cars with less EuroNCAP crash protection Ÿ When there are three or more casualties in the car Ÿ Friday and Saturday nights Ÿ On rural class ‘C’ or unclassified roads Ÿ Single vehicle crashes involving no other road-user Ÿ Running off the road and hitting a roadside object Ÿ Skidding and possibly overturning Ÿ In fog, mist or rain, or on wet roads in fine weather Ÿ On bends, particularly on rural roads Ÿ Young men are at significantly greater risk than young women If you are a driver or a rider of any age we can help you make yourself safer and your driving and riding more enjoyable by, amongst other things, improving awareness of risks and how to manage them safely. So why not get in touch and/or pass the message onto others? We are affiliated to the IAM whose prime road safety role is to raise driving and riding standards. Safe drivers (and riders) are not born, they are made. The 127,000 IAM members are among the 400,000 drivers and riders trained and tested to advanced standards by them. Brunel University found that most drivers who received advanced coaching developed significantly better safety skills, from speed management and cornering to hazard awareness and keener anticipation. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
What’s your take on the position of bikers? Motorcyclists are necessarily much more vulnerable on the road compared with drivers of any other class of vehicle, the accident statistics prove it. All too often collisions occur between bikes and cars in which poor observation and understanding of just what a biker has to do on the road play a significant part. Of course, collisions are not always the fault of just the biker or driver involved but we’re not concerned here in apportioning blame to either party. Rather to highlight the essential difficulties bikers face and some of the techniques they may use which, at first sight, might be a little difficult to understand to a driver with no biking experience. As a driver don’t expect a biker to just ride adopting a position to the nearside of his lane - try looking in front of a moving biker. Things like ruts, pot-holes, debris, gratings, man-holes and the like all have a much greater potential for affecting stability of a bike compared to the affect on a car. For this important reason you should expect a biker to adjust his position to miss such features. Even things like repairs to the surface can be very significant to a biker who will want to adjust his position away from areas of variable skid resistance or surfaces which can adversely affect his stability. White paint on the road whilst perhaps not having a great deal of significance to a driver, will often need positive action from a biker to reduce the risks posed by the hazard. Next time you see a biker approach say “SLOW” painted on the road you may observe that he adjusts his position so his wheels pass over the bottom leg of the L or maybe he’ll pass straight through the O. Certainly if he is an advanced rider he will consider this course of action to minimise the affects on his stability. As a driver you can do a lot to minimise the risks associated with mixing with bikes and, like all things in advanced driving, you’ll benefit if you use your observation and anticipation skills well. It can prove especially difficult to gauge the speed of a motorcycle since they take up less of your field of vision, making depth perception more difficult. Allow plenty of room when you are overtaking, don’t just sneak by with little room to spare since the biker may need to adjust his position for one of the reasons above, or to get a better view of the road ahead, which often demands use of the full width of their lane. Wet roads and poor weather have an even greater impact on bikers, of course, so always keep plenty of distance. Junctions are the most risky areas for a motorcyclist, because of their size they can be difficult to spot. Good observation and scanning will help prepare you and give you time to react. The Department of Transport campaigns on the subject continue to carry good advice - Think once, Think twice - Think bike. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
Motorcycle Chief Observer’s diary - Graeme McColm This has, as usual, been a busy time for the motorcycle section, with quite a number of people passing their advanced bike test recently. We’ve have had a lot of ongoing interest which is quite surprising considering the time of year and the weather we have been experiencing. Andrew Bird and I attended the “Bike Forum” at Tulliallan police headquarters, fortunately the weather was good enough to travel to the meeting by bike. Many aspects of running the motorcycle section were covered, the detail of which we were able to report back to the committee. Recently the bike section ran a social night at a local Chinese restaurant, this was well attended (considering the short notice) with over two dozen members enjoying a very pleasant evening. Christine Donaldson, one of the committee members, is currently making a contact list of all members, this should help with organising events in future. Please contact her with your email address if you wish to be notified of further social nights. Although these are bike section Members looking forward to their meals events (and therefore not announced in the Advance Magazine), they are however, open to all members. Just before we went to print, the group attended an open evening at Scotspeed Motorcycles. I was pleased that such a good number of members turned out on what proved to be a very wet night. Grateful thanks go to Ian Metcalfe and his staff for making us feel very welcome and providing food and drink on the night. We look forward to building on our links with Scotspeed in the future. We are also looking forward to the Table Top Rally on 8 December and the Race Night on 23 January. This latter event is important for us, serving not only as a social event for members, friends and family but also as a fund raiser to help us provide the necessary equipment to further our aims. You can find more details on page 17 of this magazine - tickets will be galloping out the door so don’t get left in the stalls! Finally, please remember that our aim is to reduce accidents and increase road safety, if you know of any bikers or car drivers who may benefit from a “skill for life” course please encourage them to get in touch. Be safe, have an enjoyable Festive period and see you at the Race Night. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
Victim of blinkered vision. The trend over the past few years towards spectacles with wide side arms can have serious consequences for drivers and riders. Whilst you may get good forward vision in your new glasses, vision to the sides can be seriously compromised - in fact it can be like driving in blinkers. Drivers and riders who use their glasses on the road should choose the frames carefully so as to allow the maximum all-round vision. The Association of Optometrists advise that frames should have slender sides set high enough so as not to Would you get good peripheral vision (to the sides) with these glasses? interfere with sideways vision. So it would be safest if you want glasses with wide sidearms to get a second pair, with thin arms, for use out on the road, after all who wants to become a victim of fashion?
Table top rally The December meeting will see Jim Hunter putting us through our paces in a table-top rally. Jim will no doubt have some maps to hand but please bring along an OS Landranger sheet 85 (Carlisle and Solway Firth), if you have one.
Emergency Vehicles - IAM Driving tip Deciding what to do when you hear an emergency vehicle approaching can be a dilemma. Do you stay where you are and potentially block the progress of an emergency vehicle? Or do you move into a position that may put you or other road users at risk? Unfortunately, some drivers over-react to emergency service vehicles travelling on “blues and twos” (blue lights and two-tone horns). This is often because they don’t hear or see the emergency vehicle until it’s too close, and then take drastic action to get out of the way. The Institute of Advanced Motorists says that good driving practice will alert you early to emergency vehicles: regular mirror checks (side and rear) for example, and keeping the windows slightly down around town, so you can hear sirens approaching. Don’t panic and just brake. It’s natural to want to react. But instinctively putting your brakes on immediately in front of an emergency vehicle doesn’t help: it slows the progress of the emergency vehicle and jeopardises other road users. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
Think about where you are on the road. You should deal with the problem in the same way that you deal with any other potentially hazardous driving situation. What is the safest option available to you? Don’t cross red traffic lights or speed to get out of the way. The emergency driver has training and legal exemptions that you don’t have. Bus lanes and box junctions can be problems too, but let them resolve the problem of breaking the rules – not you. If you are moving it may well be that you can continue at a reasonable pace and the emergency vehicle can follow you out of a pocket of congestion (such as a blocked one way system). In that scenario, attempting to pull over too soon, or slow down, might just cause a needless obstruction and so hamper the progress of the emergency vehicle. Indicate your intentions clearly Don’t pull in opposite other obstructions, such as centre bollards. If you are thinking about pulling over across an entrance to a school or factory, you may be unwittingly preventing the emergency vehicle reaching its destination. And do think about where you are asking the emergency driver to overtake you – on the brow of a hill or a blind bend can be placing him or her in a very difficult position. Get out of the way as soon as you can do so in safety.
Making improvements to this driving malarkey - Richard Ross Well I have always been interested in driving and eventually passed my test in 2007. I looked into doing Pass Plus but it just didn't seem very good. When I heard about advanced driving and the Dumfries Group of the IAM I jumped at the chance. Naturally once it came nearer to the time of my first drive, I started getting a little worried ......... silly me because it was really interesting. The good thing about only driving for a year is that I didn't really have a chance to build up bad habits. I guess like a lot of younger drivers though you do start to think “well I've passed my test so I must be pretty good at this driving malarkey”. After a few drives, it became clear that I had a lot to learn and my observer did an excellent job of setting the pace. One thing I did notice that was creeping into my driving was a tendency for everything to be far too hurried. Gear changes and clutch control were an absolute nightmare and now with a little tlc my car loves me for not being quite so brutal. Smooth and fluid have replaced jerky and rushed. Another thing to © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
note is that with practise and a little time my reversing is so much more confident that I can now do it efficiently and accurately all the time. Fantastic. In a nutshell the IAM got me more interested in driving. It has shown me how to be a better and safer driver. I also have more knowledge about the world of driving which I can retain for the future. The people that give up their time for this are brilliant and want to make a difference. I can but try and do the same. You would be mad to pass this kind of opportunity up. Dumfries Group and the IAM, I salute you!
Off Road Skills Day A very wet Sunday in August saw our intrepid band of motorcycle Observers heading up to Moffat for an afternoon of trials riding, and burger eating! With help from members of Moffat Motor Club motorcyclists, the event’s aim was to help improve slow speed manoeuvring, balance and to ride a trials bike on some tricky off-road sections, but most of all to have a really fun time. The motorcycle Observers arrived from Dumfries rather wet and in need of a warming cup of tea and a rock bun which was duly provided at the cafeteria (Jamie’s garage). Once everyone had warmed up and after a few pointers on some of the basic skills required for riding a trials bike over the rough stuff, we were off to the sections which had been painstakingly prepared by Jim Ballantyne and Alan Poynton of Moffat MC, both expert off-road riders. Jim and Eamonn Long (Moffat MC) were on hand to give demonstrations and lots of helpful, and much needed, advice on how to tackle steep up and down hill sections, jump over logs, ride over rocky outcrops and drop into a stream, ride along the stream bed, then climb out the other end! Not as easy as it all sounds. Slow speed, balance, and a deft throttle control was the order of the day, which proved to be a little tricky for everyone at the start. At first many times a Yamaha was seen on its side when the rider had to step off at the last minute but after a bit of practice and some helpful tips from Jim everyone made huge strides in skill and confidence. By the end all were starting to look quite competent and comfortable astride the strange machines. To everyone’s delight no injuries were sustained to either body or bike, and apart from some aching muscles and bruised egos, all were intact at the end. A big thanks to Andrew who selflessly manned the BBQ and kettle, a hot drink and burger or bacon roll was a very welcome sight after getting wet and dirty at the throttle of a Yamaha. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
A relaxing break with burger and coffee was had, and stories swapped in the relative comfort (and dry) of Jamie’s garage. The posse agreed that it had been a great learning and fun experience, before heading back to Dumfries. Huge thanks are due to Jim & Alan from Moffat Motor Club who proThe intrepid riders in the ‘cafeteria’ vided the bikes and made the whole event possible, and whose expertise was invaluable.
Visit to Scotspeed Monday 10 November saw a good turnout for the visit to Dumfries Suzuki Solus Dealer, Scotspeed. Managing director, Ian Metcalfe introduced the changes he has made since taking over the business and also spoke of his plans for the future of the dealership. Good news too for our members as Ian announced that he is offering a 10% discount on sales of helmets, clothing, Ian Metcalfe (second from right) with spares and accessories. All you have to just a few of the members who attended the event. do to take advantage of this offer is to produce your membership card at the time of purchase.
Dumfries regain the bowling cup from Carlisle Group
Dumfries Group Chairman raises the cup aloft
© Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
S O L I C I T O R S, E S T A T E A G E N T S & INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVISERS
Property and Estate Agency Wills and Estates Independent Financial Advice
Commercial Practice Family Law www.braidwoods.com 49 Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LL Te le p h o n e : ( 0 1 3 8 7 ) 2 5 7 2 7 2 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In case of fire As many as 100 people die each year as a result of a car fire, in fact there are tens of thousands of car fires every year. Some fires are deliberate and relate to vehicle thefts but about a third are accidental, sometimes caused by poor maintenance. Just what should you do if a fire does start whilst you are driving? Ÿ Stop straight away but do try keep clear of high risk locations, for example don’t pull into a petrol station! Ÿ Switch on your hazard lights - they may work for a while Ÿ Switch off the engine.
Spotted on M6 northbound September 2008! Everyone out and leave this for the professionals!
© Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
Ÿ Pull the bonnet release, inside the vehicle, if you have time - but do not open the bonnet. Ÿ Get yourself and your passengers out of the vehicle immediately and get everyone well away from the vehicle and stay away, keeping onlookers and others away. Don’t go back to rescue possessions. Ÿ Ring 999 and call the fire brigade, or make sure someone has done so. Ÿ Warn approaching traffic and pedestrians, if safe to do so - don’t put yourself in more danger. Ÿ If, but only if, the fire is small you could attempt attempt to tackle it with a dry powder or foam extinguisher. If the fire is in the engine compartment, do not open the bonnet but aim the extinguisher through the radiator grille or under the edge of the bonnet. Ÿ If the fire is large like the one in the photograph above don’t attempt to put out the fire, just stay well away and wait for the professionals. Ÿ Never use water on an engine fire - it can short out wiring and spread burning petrol with disastrous effect.
Give a Skill for Life this Christmas Are you struggling to think of a gift idea that is extra special? Why not give somebody special an experience they’ll never forget with an IAM advanced driving or motorcycling Skill for Life programme. The IAM Skill for Life Christmas gift pack wraps up the Christmas gift and New Year’s resolution in one. This original gift idea gives a loved one an experience they’ll never forget and contains everything they will need in order to prepare for and pass the IAM advanced driving or riding test. The IAM gift pack is presented in a special Christmas gift box. By giving an IAM Skill for Life gift pack, you are helping set somebody on the road to advanced driving – with all the subsequent benefits, including a safer, smoother drive – plus reduced fuel bills and car insurance. The pack is available for car drivers (£99) and motorcyclists (£109). More details can be found on the Group’s web site (see p1) or the IAM web site at: www.iam.org.uk/christmas
Group Members and Associates can get a free basic car wash, or two jet wash tokens when you fill up. Just show your membership card, or for Associates your IAM confirmation letter. Let the staff know you would like the free bike/car wash before you pay for your fuel. This offer may be withdrawn at any time. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
Sorry mate - I didn't see you…. IAM driving tip The joys of motorcycling - including more predictable journey times and better fuel consumption - have encouraged a recent revival in biking, especially in urban areas. But commuters on two wheels have to cope with a host of hazards - not least, car drivers who for various reasons fail to see the motorcycle coming towards them. In the jargon, too often car drivers look, but fail to see, motorcycles. This problem is particularly acute at junctions and that is why it is the subject of an advertising campaign. "Sorry mate I didn't see you" is for too many bikers the last phrase they hear before they are put in the ambulance. Don’t forget to check carefully at junctions when you are emerging. An older slogan had the same affect: "Think once, think twice ... think bike". Apart from giving bikers a "second glance", there are other things that drivers can do to ease the passage of motorcycles, particularly in heavy congestion, that in turn will mean a safer journey for everybody. If you are stuck in dense traffic, keep checking your mirrors for bikes. These days they nearly all have their headlight on to make them easier to see. If the biker is trying to "filter" - make his way through the traffic by riding slowly between stationary vehicles, or riding on the white line in the middle of the road make a point of creating space for them if you can do so in safety. By pulling over slightly, to one side or the other, you can make the difference between letting the biker past, or adding to the congestion. Remember to check all your mirrors first: you don't want to compromise the bicycle making its way along the nearside in order to allow passage to a biker. Never be tempted to vent your frustration with the traffic by getting in the way of a motorcycle on purpose. You won't go any faster and you may just contribute to a collision which of course will add to congestion rather than alleviate it. If you are the biker – don’t be aggressive, the car driver you upset today won’t be inclined to help tomorrow. And all this applies for pedal cyclists as well – both from car and cyclists point of view. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
ÂŠ Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
The Secretary Reports - Helen Cameron Firstly I can report that in October the 10 Pin Bowling match was won by Dumfries Group and we even had a bigger team than Carlisle. After the defeat last year once again the cup is back in our hands. As usual a good night was had by all and it was good to see new faces coming along as well as the loyal trusty support. The inter group quiz has been set for Thursday 19 February 2009. It will be held at the Dalston House Hotel so Iâ€™m inviting your support for this event as well, either as a cheer leader or as a member of the team. Thank you for all the group questionnaires that have been returned to me but I would be happy to include more in report to the next committee so there is still time to return them. In the winter the pass rate slows down but we have had a few passes since our last magazine. Congratulations to all those who have been successful in their test. Associate
Associate Rodney Walker
Since August 2008
Nick Gough-Young David Hewitt David Moyes Steven McColm Terence McCloskey
Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team
Frank Mulraney Claire Mulraney John Geddes Vicky Halliday James Millward
Observer Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team Motorcycle Team
ÂŠ Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
RACE NIGHT FRIDAY 23 JANUARY 2009 SOCIAL NIGHT AND FUND RAISER FOR IAM MEMBERS AND THEIR GUESTS AT: DALSTON HOTEL, LAURIEKNOWE, DUMFRIES. SIX RACES PLUS AN EXTRA AUCTION RACE & RAFFLE Ticket price £8.00, includes buffet. PROCEEDS FOR THE BENEFIT OF DGGAMM TO GO TOWARDS THE PURCHASE OF NEW EQUIPMENT.
Why not come along, bring some friends with you, have a flutter and support your group at the same time. The event is restricted to a maximum of 100 people and tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Please contact Stewart Cameron to reserve your tickets. Tel: 01387 264005
Mobile: 07707 035518
Or email – email@example.com (use ‘RACE NIGHT’ as the message header) 17
O B S E R V E R’ S C O R N E R
This section is intended to help when considering the best course of action. It is up to every driver to actively assess each scenario.
Are crashes preventable? It is said that 95% of crashes on our roads are caused by human error and as such they are all largely preventable. If we were to study some of the most common causes of crashes we could assess just how helpful using advanced driving/riding techniques could be in preventing such incidents. Some of the common causes are: (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j)
Loss of control Looked but did not see. Inappropriate use of speed Poor judgement of own vehicle’s path Failure to look Failure to give way Failure to avoid vehicle or object in carriageway Inattention or distraction Poor turn or manouevre Careless, thoughtless or reckless driving (Source: ROSPA/ DfT)
So could employing advanced techniques help a driver or rider to avoid becoming involved in a collision any of the above circumstances? Attitude of mind is obviously important in most if not all of these scenarios not just in the obvious one (j). However simply using the planned System of Driving (Information, Position, Speed, Gear, Acceleration), including efficient use of observation, planning and anticipation will have a significant impact on all the areas of concern above. Add to this the art of commentary (whether out loud or in your head) and you will be well on the way to minimising your risks as far as possible. Obviously being an advanced driver or rider will not save you from becoming a victim of a collision, after all we are all human so can make errors or you may get involved in a situation of someone else's making. Although if, after passing your advanced test, you carry on practising and learning the art you will find © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists 18
there is a surprising amount that you can do to protect yourself from the actions of others. The only way we could gain any degree of comfort that by using advanced techniques we could remove all risks of a collision would be if everyone became, and practised the art of advanced driving and riding. However by using the techniques yourself you can cut the risks considerably, the reduced accident rate for advanced drivers proves it.
Screen Test .... IAM driving tip There’s no doubt that modern cars are structurally far superior to models widely available in years gone by. One of the recent trends in structural safety has had a possible downside in terms of driver vision – the growth of the A pillar. The A pillar is the engineering term for the area dividing the windscreen and the windows. In recent years the A pillars have become sturdier in a bid to improve the structure of the car as a whole. In response, car designers have made them thicker. But the A pillar has created a blind spot which campaigners have pointed out obstructs the vision of thousands of drivers. A study commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) found that, while the A pillar can obscure vision, there is rarely only one factor that contributes to an accident. The study therefore found that there was not enough evidence to suggest that changes to current legislation regarding A pillar design would be of benefit. That means the onus is on drivers to cater for possible A pillar restriction. So what should we do? Scanning by moving your eyes and
Drivers should check the visi- head can help you see ‘around’ the bility before they buy just as blind spot caused by the pillars. you would check other features in the car. More than 90 per cent of the information from the car’s external environment is viewed by the driver through the windscreen and windows. Firstly, you should be aware of the potential restriction the A pillar may cause in your ability to scan the road ahead. It is © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists
vital to check that nothing is hidden from view by the A pillar before making a manoeuvre. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are easy to “lose” in the space behind a pillar. Make sure you take time to look around the pillar, not just take a quick “snap-shot” look which could result in a cyclist to be hidden from view. As you are driving in a straight line on approach to a junction, look further ahead, and scan to the left and right on your approach That way you will see things through the windscreens before they become “lost” behind the pillars. Remember – good, all round vision is vital. The onus is on you, as the driver, to see what is there.
Quick driving tips - Only give a signal if another road user could benefit - look for a reason not to signal but if in doubt give a signal. - Actively consider your position, take care to keep a safe following distance and maintain good lane discipline. The gap between you and the car in front, or behind, is shared safety space. - When steering start with a 'pull' from the top not a 'push' from the bottom. - When you are braking aim to have both hands on the steering wheel. - Keep both your hands on the wheel when actively steering, the time for gear changing is after braking but before you start turning into the hazard (e.g. a bend). - Always lose your speed, then change gear, before you reach the hazard brakes are for slowing, gears for going. - Make sure you can always stop comfortably, on your own side of the road, in the distance that you can see to be clear, except on a single track road where you must be able to stop in half the distance that you can see to be clear! - Overtaking - if in doubt hang about, don’t do it if it can’t be done with maximum safety. - If you're stopping to stop, handbrake up. If you're stopping to go, not necessarily so. - Leave the problem behind (when accelerating away from a hazard). - Use a commentary to stay alert and maximise your concentration, observation and anticipation. © Dumfries & Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists & Motorcyclists 20
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Published on Dec 1, 2008