Tim’s Tips – July 2015

At our recent Observer’s Meeting I set the rather pointless challenge of asking the observers how many worded triangular warning signs they could think of. The answers were verified by the usual DVSA sources and the Traffic Signs Manual. I gave them ‘Ford’ as an example and challenged them to recall four more – can you get them all?

Just to prove that some signs are not in any textbook I found the one on the right near Wigan!Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.57.56

On a more serious note I notice that one of the top ten reasons for learner drivers failing the basic DVSA driving test is poor observation at junctions. This is also an area where experienced drivers can become complacent.

Recent campaigns to THINK BIKE remind us to do just that, but making sure that we do this in practice is another matter. I particularly remember, when I was training to be an ADI, our trainer teaching us to make sure that our pupils really looked down the kerb to the right when emerging at junctions: a moped zipping along in the gutter towards us could easily be missed if one simply glanced along the road.

In fact, we really need to look twice to gauge the speed of approaching vehicles, but doing this can invite the driver behind to run into the back of you if the junction or roundabout you are approaching appears to have an open view. The driver behind is likely to be looking to his or her right to try to emerge, and will expect the lead vehicle to emerge promptly. If the lead vehicle pauses for a second while its driver takes a second glance to the right, the following vehicle might run into the back of it while the following driver is still looking right. It takes some skill to balance the need for thorough observation with ‘controlling’ the driver behind. Perhaps we are most vulnerable at the junctions we use most regularly, where familiarity can overcome our normal information-searching skills.

I also notice that some drivers turning left from a major road into a narrow minor road swing in over the centre (hazard) line in the minor road. This will commonly be because they are travelling too fast or do not steer their vehicle effectively, or both.

It’s good to check junction routines from time to time as bad habits can creep in and catch us out!

I wish you all safe and fun driving in the month ahead.
Tim Hawkins – Chief Observer (Car)
Four signs: ‘Try your brakes’, ‘Cattle Grid’, ‘Flood’ and ‘Gate’