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2010/05/06

Yet again, reckless police driving highlights the need for a review

Accidents involving Police cars are likely to be at
least 50% caused by risky/reckless Police driving,  if not 100%.
The above heading is from frogblog, and the post poses this question: "What the hell is going on with police driver training, attitudes, and practice?", to which I made this comment:
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If you look at it from the perspective of insurable risks, and address that as the causal problem, then something interesting happens. I would suggest that a brief study of the history of UK Police Driver Training Standards might save you 90% of the potential cost of the review that you speak of - save time too - and set you on a path to a tried-and-tested solution fairly quickly.

From memory, it was during the '60s in the UK that Police metropolitan districts were becoming increasingly concerned at the escalation in the number, severity and cost of road accidents involving Police vehicles. Insurance for Police vehicles was escalating as a result - becoming prohibitively costly, because Police drivers had become such a high risk group - a very high average number of accidents per 1,000 miles driven (I forget the actual number, but I do recall thinking that Police drivers must have become almost uninsurable risks).


With the objective of significantly reducing these high insurance risks and premiums (costs), the Police implemented a Police Standard Driver Training programme (I think the London Met were first), which included rigorous driving training and testing/examination. I think there were 3 classes of certificate. Only drivers holding the Policing Driving Certificate Class 1 were deemed safe enough to drive the high speed motorway and road patrol cars. I think you had to have at least a Certificate Class 3 to drive a Panda (local) car. I'm not sure if that allowed you to even engage in hot pursuit though.

Any Police Driving Certificate (Class 1, 2 or 3) was advanced - meaning that the holder's driving skills were well above those which the average Joe would need to achieve to pass the common driving test.
Furthermore, the Certificate holders were re-tested every few years (3 or 5, I think), and re-trained as necessary, to ensure that they maintained or improved their driving skills standard. The average Joe (people like me) would never have been likely to have to face a re-test until we hit maybe 70 years of age or so, by which time our skill standards would probably have progressively deteriorated over the years until we became high risks.

This Police Standard Driver Training programme resulted in the insurance premiums on Police vehicles falling dramatically, below the point they had ever previously been, because the average number and severity of accidents per 1,000 miles driven by Police drivers went way down.

The huge success of this programme led to the Minister of Transport (Ernest Marples, I think it was) sponsoring the creation of the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists), where the average Joe could take more driver skills training and then apply to take the IAM driving test. The test was about 1½ hours' duration - all driving, and on different types of road (city, motorway, and 'A' and 'B' roads) - and the examiner was a Class 1 Police Driving Certificate holder. I took a course of training and then the test. Part of the test involved giving a 15-minute running commentary of what you were observing as you drove, and what you were doing. It showed your thinking processes and particularly your anticipation of driving risks/hazards and planning/strategies for dealing with them if they arose. I had practiced doing this during my training. The examiner gave you a 5-minute example of the sort of commentary he wanted, before you had to do the commentary. He was thus making commentary as you drove, but using his thinking, anticipation and training. I have to say that, up to that point I had arrogantly thought (I was about 21 years old) that I was a pretty damn good driver. However, the examiner's commentary soon knocked my ego into a basket, because he was so far ahead of me in everything - he was even commenting on what I should be preparing to do before I had even thought of doing it! Feeling incredibly humbled, I did my commentary and wondered if I could ever hope to be as good as the examiner.

I passed my test, got my IAM Certificate, and immediately told my insurers (AA) about it, who promptly dropped my insurance premium by 10%. (The AA regarded the IAM Certificate as proof that the holder was capable of driving so as to be a lower risk, you see.) This - the 10% annual discount - had been my original motivation, but the test actually triggered a keener interest in developing good driving skills. I know that I am capable of driving to an advanced standard, but that does not mean that I always do. Thus, every time I am at the wheel, I remind myself that I need to try harder if I hope to ever get even close to that examiner's standard. That's how good those Class 1 Certificate holders were.

There is absolutely no reason why NZ Police couldn't put in place a similar Police Standard Driver Training programme, with similar significant benefits to the Police and the general public. When you consider the huge number of kilometers that Police drivers must rack up, driving on public roads over the course of a year, then the driving public and our roads in general would necessarily be a lot safer as a result. These risky - even deadly - drivers will have become very low-risk. The majority of New Zealanders would probably agree that the Police have a duty of care to do something about the high risks of Police drivers and the threats/dangers they pose to the general public. Let's see if they do something along these lines. If they do not, then there is arguably a care-less aspect about it, and it's probably all down to politics and wanting to avoid the cost of the necessary Police Standard Driver Training programme - i.e., so what if a few lives are lost? AddThis Social Bookmark Button

3 comments:

  1. Your a clown. Funny though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A picture of a Police car crash does not mean there is a issue,,I am sure the firm you work for has crashes as well,, I will take a picture of that then say how bad their driving is(Well I wouldnt because it wouldnt be correct) Considering the type of work they do Police crashes are no more than Telecom fleet vehicles.You should look at the British accident rate and yes the trained officers as you speak off feature all through the list

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  2. You want to see the crashed police cars in the states also Russia. And you go on about NZ. Chip on the shoulder about something. You get a speeding ticket in NZ. Wally.

    ReplyDelete