Tim’s Tips

Tims tipsI’ve learned that what has a good beginning needs also a good ending‘                                       

Spoken by the hero, Adam Tremain – Day Taylor, The Black Swan

We spend time learning pre-driving safety checks to make sure all is well before we set off on a journey.

There are a number of model sequences to choose from. The DVSA suggest:

  • Door – handbrake
  • Seat – head restraint
  • Mirror
  • Seat belts
  • Neutral
  • Fuel

Other formulæ are more complicated, particularly if they were developed for use by the police  (except the CID who, we are told, reduce the checks to ‘We’re in, we’re off!’).

Roadcraft has suggested drills on pages 255-258, and includes personal checks for the driver to consider on page 254. It certainly helps to create a positive start to an observed drive, as well as serving as an important safety function, if you spend a moment running through some basic checks.

I used to find on driving home from work that my seat and mirrors occasionally needed adjusting to compensate for my natural tendency to slouch. Then, the following morning, re-adjusting because I naturally sat up more.

There seems to be less advice about what to do at the end of a journey.

A drive, whether observed or not, is not concluded until the vehicle is parked, secured and the engine shut down. Often, the only reversing manœuvre on a drive is performed at the end, when the driver reverses into a parking bay.

It is very tempting to allow the relief of completing the drive (and parking) to overwhelm us, and the final securing of the car, switching off auxiliary controls, checking dials, etc, before stopping the engine can be rushed or random. Watch a professional musician at the conclusion of their performance. They will have practised what they do with their hands and instrument, how they stand, bow and walk off the stage, so that these basic logistics complement the performance.

It is important to spend a moment checking all is well before we leave the car, and taking pride in the standard of the whole drive.

[I have only learnt relatively recently, from Honest John in The Telegraph, that to avoid gumming-up the oilways in a turbocharger after an engine has been worked hard it is best to let the engine idle for a while before switching off – 30 sec after a long motorway run, up to 2 min after towing up ascents. No cool-down is needed after normal town driving. This takes me back to the idling time needed before shutdown after landing with big turbofan engines, which was usually covered by the taxi to the stand. Ed]