Driver Awareness Training with Lancashire Constabulary

This weekend saw Bolton MRT member Paul Brain taking part in the third driver awareness course of the year provided by Lancashire Constabulary. Following on from Steve Fletcher’s experiences in mid February and Mike Higginbottoms in May, Paul, together with Phil Hill from Bowland Pennine MRT and Ted Handley from Rossendale & Pendle MRT, journeyed to Lancashire Constabulary’s Motor Driving School at Hutton near Preston. Paul 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 Gardener, our instructor for the day, to assess our abilities, pick up on our bad habits and generally get a feel for our experience levels. This was undertaken in Bolton MRTs BM4 Landrover, as it was Boltons turn to provide a Landrover for the weekend.

The BM4 Landrover we provided for the weekend is the teams newest Landrover, purchased in 2003. The vehicle has luxuries such as central locking and electric windows, not seen in our colleagues team motors. Comments were also made about the number of radios carried by our Landrovers (3) and Terrafix with the attached ’sat nav’ system also got some envious looks. Terrafix provides direct datalink messages from NWAS (Manchester) Control, enables NWAS Control to track our vehicles and is also inclusive of a Voice alert Sat Nav system, which can be activated remotely by NWAS Control or operated manually.

After a quick lunch we were out again for more driving. This time Roger concentrated much more on instruction rather than assessment and we started picking up some great tips on positioning, reading the road for hazards and subtle clues and setting the vehicle up for the road ahead. The majority of the afternoon’s driving took place in our local area of operation.

Sunday saw a change of instructor, with Ian “Batty” Bateson 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 Ian gave us an expert high speed response driving demonstration in one of Lancashire Constabulary’s liveried Vectras under blue lights on a run to Preston General Hospital. 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.

Following another classroom session on how clues on what to look for when taking corners, Ian drove our BM4 Landrover. After chuckling his way to the butty shop and back, Ian reminded himself of the unique roll, cabin space and comfort of the modern Landrover!

The afternoon was spent back in the more sedate atmosphere of a fully laden MR Landrover amongst the country lanes of the teams area. This session was very much a consolidation exercise as Ian allowed us to put into practice what we had learned and injected a few helpful comments here and there.

Bolton Mountain Rescue Team would like to thank Lancashire Constabulary for putting on the course, to Roger and Ian for giving up their weekend (especially as it was Ians wedding anniversary!) and sharing their wealth of expertise with us, and to Inspector Neil Sherry, also of Lancashire Constabulary, for organising the event.