Driving tips from a police driving instructor - Part 3


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In part three, Driver Training Standards manager at South Wales Police, Gareth Morgan explains how developments in road safety are improving driving standards


Over the past couple of weeks we’ve learned how police officers become better drivers and given some top road safety tips, this week it’s all about driving standards.

We asked Gareth about the state of general driving standards in the UK and if there has been an improvement in recent years.

Since records began in 1926, the number of road deaths has decreased significantly, but this doesn’t give the full picture. He said: “In 1926 there were 4,886 road deaths recorded, compared to 2015 when there were 1,732.

“We have forecasted figures which show a slight increase for the 2016 period. Taking into consideration the number of cars on the roads then compared with now, there is a significant improvement in standards, the big issue is how do we measure what is actually working?"

What makes driving safer?

We know road infrastructure and engineering interventions have assisted, plus vehicle technology and safety systems clearly keep people alive. The development of the adapted driving tests, pass plus and Hazard Perception testing along with improvements in Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) standards all add to the measure.

So in essence, we have come a very long way since 1926, however we can still do so much more.

Gareth continued: “The fact 1,800 people die every year as a result of road traffic collisions still remains unacceptable. Having dealt with such cases as a roads policing officer will always remind me of our vulnerability when it comes to vehicle collisions, so many unnecessary deaths could have been prevented.”

How do I safely avoid police cars on the roads?

Hearing a police siren and spotting blue lights can result in some drivers panicking or even ending up in a collision with the police. To ensure its police officers are always one step ahead South Wales Police uses a driving simulator which thoroughly trains officers to drive in a state of emergency. This has resulted in a 45% drop in collisions over the past five years.

Despite this however, many motorists are unsure of how to react when they see blue lights in their rear view mirror. Gareth explained: “The most important thing is not to panic. Remember, all emergency response drivers are trained to deal with your reactions, but you can do a great deal to assist them. Give response drivers some clues of your intentions, such as an indicator or some other form of non-verbal communication. They are always grateful for your support.”

Gareth also advised following the Highway Code:

  1. Consider their route and how best you can safely get out of their way without putting others at risk.
  2. Avoid stopping on bends and or blind summits where the view is restricted.
  3. Remember the car behind you may not have seen the emergency vehicle coming, by harshly braking you run the risk of a rear end shunt.

Being stopped by the police

These safety measures should also be complied with when being pulled over by a police vehicle, too. Gareth emphasises motorists should always pull over in a safe, legal and convenient location and told us police officers will always be understanding about this.

In the event of being asked to be pulled over it’s also important to acknowledge the request straight away, whether with your indicator or a wave.

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