Yesterday I had the pleasure, rather surprisingly, of attending my first and, obviously, last Speed Awareness course. Run by John and John from Essex County Council, it was held in the Green Centre, Wat Tyler Country Park.
I arrived suitably early (I can hear the roar of disbelieving laughter, but it is true!) and nervously headed into the waiting area. Who would be there? Would they be friendly? What would the course be like? So many things to worry about! I need not have stressed! The waiting area was light, bright, had tea on tap and was filled by a mixed group of fairly friendly looking people. I can’t go into specifics due to confidentially (what happens in the Speed Awareness course, stays in the Speed Awareness course) but I can tell you that the room comprised of men and women of varying ages and backgrounds which just goes to show, there are no ‘typical’ naughty folk who speed!
We settled into the training room and, after a brief introduction, John kicked off with the first half of the training. I always think it is a good sign when a training session feels more like a night out watching Live at the Apollojust without the alcohol, than anything else. John’s style of delivery ensured that our random group of people not only listened but actively engaged in the session which was fab as this was one of the strict criteria detailed in the conditions of the course offer.
Clearly Essex County Council have a great training for trainers programme as, John’s session is only pipped to the ‘Best Training Session Ever’ title by the fabulous Talk, Listen, Cuddle course I attended run by Sian Ansell – she was fabulous and if you ever get a chance to attend a course she is running, grab it!
After our tea break, John stepped out and John took over with a different style of presentation, still friendly and approachable but slightly more serious. Given that the second half of the training included more emotionally charged content, I think it was a good choice.
So what did I learn? Lots! Here are my top five new things I’ve learnt *queue Top of the Pops count down music*
At Number 5… I wasn’t so surprised to learn that I had very little idea of the various speed limits on different roads and for different vehicles but I was surprised to learn that I thought they were much lower than they actually are. Although this is good because it means I have been driving well below the speed limit on many roads, it also means that I could have caused an accident as I was not acting as other drivers would expect me to.
At Number 4… I was shocked to learn that 60% of fatalities in crashes happen in rural areas. My initial assumption, before the course, would have been that most crashes happen on motorways and that most fatalities are on motorway’s too. However, most crashes happen in built up areas, with fatalities of 36%. Motorway only account for 4% of all crash fatalities.
At Number 3… The latest edition of the Highway Code has 40 new rules and 5 new signs!
At Number 2… I learnt that all those pesky motorbikes who weave in and out of the traffic are NOT breaking the laws of the Highway Code after all! If you don’t believe me, you will find the relevant bit in Rules for Motorcyclists, section 88.
And coming in at Number 1… The whole “10% plus 2-ish” rule when it comes to being booked for speeding is a total MYTH! You can get booked for speeding if you are doing 1 mile above the limit. The “ish” rule, as John called it, is purely for guidance given by the Association of Chief Police Officers and it is at the Police Officer’s discretion as to whether or not to follow it!
So, what can I do with all my newly acquired knowledge and understanding of speed limits and driving safely? Well, I am going to COAST! Don’t panic though, I shan’t be blithely driving around without a care in the world! What does COAST stand for?
What I think is interesting is that not only can I apply COAST to my driving technique but I think it will prove to be quite useful to apply it to my life in general!!