Making sense of speed

Last week I attended a speed awareness workshop in Sunderland run by Drivetech (UK) and I have to say it was an excellent use of four hours and should be compulsory for all drivers.

I came out convinced that ‘safety cameras’ may not please everyone but they are a serious attempt to reduce accidents and fatalities at known black spots and that the boundary of 30mph is the appropriate approximation of the tipping point between surviving and dying.

The workshop is presented by very experienced advanced driving insructors. Their use of storytelling was exemplary as they told illustrative true stories of individuals that invited empathy with each situation and the learning self-realised by each of us as the sheer horror of the outcome dawned upon us.

Three of the many lessons that will stick in my mind:

When positioning yourself for a right turn and waiting for a suitable gap, never turn your wheels into the turn. If you were shunted from behind you would end up in a head-on collision with oncoming traffic. Always hold them straight until the last second.

It can cost an HGV up to £1.50 to get from 0 to 30 mph and they each have a ‘green zone’ on the speedometer indicating maximum fuel efficiency. This is why lorries are so reluctant to slow down on motorways, always edge around each other and probably why roundabouts are being phased out on roads like the A1. Once aware of this motivating factor, be considerate to them, and aware of their financial imperatives and long journeys are a lot less frustrating and other drivers actions make a lot more sense.

A man was paralysed from the neck down when his toolbox from the boot hit him between the shoulders during a crash. Prevent this by securing large objects in the boot with a cargo net or easier still, secure both seatbelts in the back when not carrying passengers. This will hold the rear seat from collapsing.

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