By Colin Paterson, Head of Marketing, DriveTech (UK) Limited
I’m not entirely sure how I got there but on one of my frequent (and repetitive) motorway drives to and from work I got sandwiched between two larger vehicles on a stretch of ‘SMART’ motorway with four lanes running – one HGV in lane 1, a van in lane 3 and me between them in lane 2.
It was busy and the van in lane 3 was suddenly slowing unpredictably (maybe the driver was immediately distracted by something – a mobile phone for instance). I was keen to go past and make progress but I sensed I was not at 100% concentration level for such a driving task in hand and of course needed to slow, move out to the fourth lane and then accelerate past the van to observe highway code laws and achieve this passing manoeuvre safely.
All of a sudden there was a sense of intimidation with these larger vehicles either side. But what was happening in terms of my concentration (never mind those other road users)? Pressure of some imminent deadlines at work (this article included!), the remote chance of my football team returning to glory and winning the Premiership title once at last, and with four children, there’s always some form of family challenge in the background too!
I’d somehow found myself in a position on road I wanted to change. How and when did that circumstance emerge, why didn’t I appreciate it sooner, why hadn’t I been more observant and planned? And why was the lorry driver distracted? He or she should have known better! I could feel a change in mood. Those vehicles are big, intimidating and frighteningly heavier than my passenger car. Do they even have clear and all-round visibility to see me?
A momentary lapse in concentration – I guess we all do it – car drivers, van drivers, truck drivers, bus and coach drivers – and other more vulnerable road users too – cyclists, motorcyclists.
Maybe there’s an even greater likelihood of being in that state if I was in control of an autonomous vehicle when suddenly jolted back into the urgent need to take back direct control from the road equivalent of ‘auto-pilot’? But that’s for another piece some other future time!
Back to basics – good competent and regular driver training is good for you!
At DriveTech we use C.O.A.S.T. (Concentration, Observation, Anticipation, Speed, Time) as one mnemonic to support our professional driver training and for drivers of cars, trucks, vans, 4x4s and more – in fact anyone driving for or on business – these memory prompts are really useful to keep focus and do what is important – to make progress but safely, reducing risk wherever feasible.
It’s just really important to instil these, and other, driving skills and behaviours so they become habitual, and remind those that are higher risk of best practice (or those that just slip into bad habits). Regular assessments and driver coaching interventions are incredibly valuable and can prove so on the bottom line as well as on immediate safety performance and in demonstrating a real duty of care to driving staff.
DriveTech offer a wide range of driver risk profiling, driver assessment, driver training and driver risk management services and we’re proud of what we do to help our business customers and improve road safety.
We’ve currently got some mobile adverts roving the country to promote DriveTech and spread the road safety word – so how’s YOUR Driving?