May 11 2008
This weekend saw BMRT member Mike Higginbottom taking part in the second
driver awareness course of the year provided by Lancashire Constabulary.
Following on from Steve Fletcher’s experiences in mid February, Mike,
together with Kev Camplin from Bowland Pennine MRT and Steve Hatton from
Rossendale & Pendle MRT, journeyed to Lancashire Constabulary’s Motor
Driving School at Hutton near Preston. Mike has written about the weekend –
Saturday morning started in fine form with a discussion of priorities. By
unanimous vote the kettle won out and the first brew of the day
accompanied a short informal session of introductions and general
defensive driving principles. That was followed by a couple of hours of
local driving to allow Roger, our instructor for the day, to pick up on
our bad habits and generally get a feel for our experience levels. This
was undertaken in Bowland Pennine’s ’Two Zero’ Landrover kindly supplied
for our use over the entire weekend. Gorgeous sounding V8 engine but a
tell-tale squeaky clutch that resulted in me getting rumbled for a couple
of lax gear changes.
After a quick lunch we were out again for more driving. This time Roger
concentrated much more on instruction rather than assessment and we really
started picking up some great tips on positioning, reading the road for
hazards and subtle cues and setting the vehicle up for the road ahead. The
majority of the afternoon’s driving took place in our local areas of
operation with Kev passing members of Bowland Pennine MRT returning from
an incident at White Coppice and myself passing members of BMRT on the
Belmont Village Winter Hill Fell Race rescue cover.
Webmaster – Yup we were certainly confused by seeing a BPMRT Landrover with a BMRT person driving it !!!
Sunday saw a change of instructor and a marked change of pace. After a
powerpoint presentation on the theory of response driving, and some good
discussion on the way it applies to MR response driving in particular, we
took to the road again as Jerry gave us an expert high speed response
driving demonstration in one of Lancashire Constabulary’s liveried Vectras
under blue lights. It was at this point that it became obvious just how
important all our lessons were. When put into practice at such high speeds
you can’t fail to see how they really do massively reduce the risks
involved for both the responding vehicle and the other road users. What
should have been a terrifying experience was not.
The afternoon was spent back in the more sedate atmosphere of a fully
laden MR Landrover amongst the country lanes of the Trough of Bowland.
This session was very much a consolidation exercise as Jerry allowed us to
put into practice what we had learned and injected a few helpful comments
here and there. The afternoon ended with perfect timing as the thunder
that had been threatening all weekend finally arrived with a vengeance.
In the couple of days since the course I’ve noticed myself applying the
knowledge I picked up to my normal driving and I’m sure all three of us
have come out as much better drivers. Many thanks of course to Roger and
Jerry for giving up their weekend and sharing their wealth of expertise
with us, and to Inspector Neil Sherry, also of Lancashire Constabulary,
for organising the event. And of course thanks to Bowland Pennine MRT for
the loan of that fantastic sounding V8 (but oil the clutch pedal next time