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RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders
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President of the Bedford Group Inspector Jane Aspin

Here is a selection of reports from our previous meetings


All content is the opinion of the writer or contributer. It is not the official view of the committee of the Bedford Group of RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders, RoSAPA or any other official body connected to or mentioned by the writer.


July 2017 David Williams F1

Our speaker for July was David Williams who talked about his working life from Hunting engineering in Ampthill to Formula 1.
Clearly it was his time with F1 that interested the members. Dave was head hunted to work for Williams F1, Dave is no relation to Frank Williams its founder.

Dave gave an insight into working as an engineer managing the team. After many years he left Williams and after a short break joined Eddie Jordan to help build his team. Dave gave his views on many of the great drivers he has worked with over the years, from personality to driving skills. Dave has also done development on a number of car components.

Dave answered a number of technical questions after his talk.

David Williams

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April 2014 Dave Ward, Senior Driving Test Centre Manager

Our thanks go to Dave Ward, Senior Driving Test Centre Manager for an interesting, informative and amusing presentation. The first Highway Code was issued in 1931 and UK driving tests became compulsory in 1935. Trivia fans note: "A Mr. Beene was the first person to pass the driving test"! Driving tests now come under the umbrella of the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) which since March 2014 now combines the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA). Whilst the debate about driving tests seems to focus around questions such as 'Is the test too easy?' and 'Does it cover enough?' one of the concerns is still fraudulent test candidates - often where another takes the test on behalf of the provisional licence holder. The DVSA has a Fraud and Integrity Unit which specifically scrutinises, polices and where appropriate prosecutes such instances of 'driving test fraud'. Test candidates must now have a level of English that allows them to understand the examiner and the days of a friend acting as an interpreter are now gone. Dave gave us the example of an examiner issuing a simple instruction to a test candidate lasting perhaps 10 seconds. 'Move off when safe to do so and then take the next available left turn'. The interpreter then speaks to the candidate for 90+ seconds relaying (in theory) only that simple instruction?! But who knows what is said? 1 to 2 candidates fail the eyesight test in each region every month. Dave said that there have been instances where the tape measure has been used to measure the exact distance: 'You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres'. Safety for candidate, examiner and other road users is also a priority, the examiner doing a vehicle walk around looking for obvious vehicle defects and they also ensure that the vehicle has front head restraints fitted as standard. A typical driving test is scheduled to last 38 minutes. Dave showed us copies of the examiner's comprehensive 'Driving Test Report' that is used to record the test drive. As we soon discovered, it is a skill in itself to use the form quickly and accurately to record any of the minor and serious faults that can occur at any point in the drive. There are 3 types of faults that can be marked on the form: · a dangerous fault - involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property · a serious fault - could potentially be dangerous · a driving fault - not potentially dangerous, but if you make the same fault throughout your test it could become a serious fault. One or more dangerous or serious faults results in a test fail. However, a candidate can still pass the test if their recorded 'driving faults' do not exceed 15. Further details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/practical-driving-test-for-cars/overview

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October 2013 Highways ~Agency

Our thanks go out once again to Steve Davy for another excellent presentation. He was billed as 'Traffic Signs and More' but what we got was a good overview of the Highways Agency and its work which did include Traffic Signs and ... More!! The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport and it is responsible for the management of the strategic road network in England. Steve is the Team Leader for Roadside Technology which covers such things as Electronic signage and the technology that allows for the safe use of what is termed 'Managed Road Networks' which most people would be more familiar with as 4 lane or hard shoulder running on motorways.

The cost to the UK economy of a badly flowing or stationary road network is huge. According to the latest DfT projections the number of cars on Britain's roads will increase from 28 million in 2010 to 38 million by 2040. The Government has pledged to fund 52 major projects, tackling some of the worst congestion hot spots. But despite this pledge, it is recognised that the road network will struggle to keep up with an increase in the number of cars.

Steve explained how the Highways Agency assesses road improvement schemes, how long it looks at in terms of lifespan before another change may be required and the cost benefits analysis from a multi-million pound road improvement investment. Despite the commonly (mis) used phrase, 'Future Proofing' and it applies to all walks of life, you can only future proof for a finite number of years. He explained the improvements that would be carried out at the Black Cat Roundabout (A1/A421 junction) and explained the logistical and cost reasons why a flyover and slip roads won't be constructed. The roundabout will be enlarged and traffic signals will manage the flow. Despite what you may think, correctly phased traffic signals improve traffic flow not reduce it.

Steve also explained that with longer and longer sections of main roads now fitted with traffic flow sensors, the overhead signs that show for example 60 on what looks like a clear motorway are telling you to restrict your speed to 60mph to avoid the inevitable domino effect of a stop/start queue that will soon occur ahead if everyone continues at 70mph assuming the 60 sign is illuminated for 'no real reason'.

Outside of multi-million pound high profile projects, Steve was keen to remind us of the more mundane but equally important day to day tasks the Highways Agency undertakes: Monitoring and responses to conditions on the managed network of motorway and trunk roads in England including road closures after traffic incidents. Resurfacing (planned and reactive), grass cutting, signage and white lining, winter services (gritting!) and even litter and debris clearance.

The Highways Agency also provide Traffic Officers. Next year, when the Tour De France comes to the UK, they will be responsible for road closures and road management for that event. And whilst millions are watching the British Grand Prix globally, the Highways Agency will be ensuring yet again that during that 1 hour and 40 minutes of racing 40 slurry tanks can leave Silverstone fully laden before the big toilet rush re-commences as soon as the chequered flag drops.

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May 2013 Traffic Master

We began at TrafficMaster HQ with Bill welcoming Rob Turl & Neil Dix as our two new tutors. We were then warmly welcomed by Mick Savage, Head of UK Networks at TrafficMaster who was to be our informative guide for the next hour. The proclamation ‘25,800 Minutes Saved Today’ was the theme that followed us throughout the tour of Traffic Master. That equated to saving around 18 days of sitting in a traffic queue, getting lost or not using the quickest travel route in a 24 hour period. Mick talked us through the early days of TrafficMaster which began with traffic flow monitoring on the M25, where subscribers were simply told ‘queue ahead’ often via a pager message to today’s sophisticated route planning and alternative live route planning. Traffic data flow is now available on all of the UK Motorway and Trunk Road Networks along with information on road restrictions and the latest changes (e.g. the A428 - Goldington Road is closed overnight). TrafficMaster holds the mapping for its subscribers on its servers, so it is as up-to-date as it can be. Subcribers access this information when they ask for a route. There system is known as Smartnav. When subscribers call in, TM knows the vehicle’s location and they can deal with requests for routes to specific addresses to ‘I am 200 miles from home and my kids have just decided they want to go ice skating. Can you tell me where the nearest ice skating rink is?’ In the latter example TM can search a massive database of information and advise the subscriber where the nearest rink is and, if the subscriber can cope with the ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ questioning, a route can be sent through to them. TM also provide vehicle tracking for fleets and also for individual subscribers. We saw an instance of how they used the technology to locate a stolen vehicle within minutes of the owner seeing it being driven off. Their systems can also be linked into the vehicle ECU and if for example an air bag is triggered (usually indicating a serious incident) the vehicle can be automatically located and a call made to the emergency services to attend. It seems likely that EU vehicle legislation will, in the near future, force all new vehicles to incorporate Emergency Call ‘E-call’ which automatically alerts the emergency services of such incidents. There will of course always be concerns over ‘Big Brother Monitoring’ and just what information might be made available and to whom. On the plus side an incident alert could mean lives are saved if a vehicle has an incident and ends up in a ditch not visible from the road.

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February 2013 General Discussion

Regrettably Our guest speaker, RoSPA Senior Regional Examiner, Tony Gabb was unable to attend. We apologise to those who turned up. Fortunately opinions, views and questions on driving matters from those who attend are always there, so an interesting group session ensued. ‘Younger drivers’ is always a subject never very far from the press headlines and our group discussions, usually (and unfortunately) following a life changing road incident or fatality. I use the word ‘incident’ rather than the word ‘accident’. Accident implies ‘An unplanned, uncontrolled event which has led to or could have led to injury to people, damage to plant, machinery or the environment and/or some other loss’. The vast majority of road incidents are down to human error and they do not happen suddenly with no warning. As I have heard Bill say on several occasions “The most common word used in a (vehicle) insurance claim is SUDDENLY – which is far from the case”. Even a mechanical vehicle failure could be attributable to driver or human error ………… ‘If only I had checked this before driving the car’.

Thanks to Andrew McGrorey for providing us with insight into younger driver risks, research and the many proposals to change the way drivers obtain their licence. There seems to be very little political will to change things, despite the evidence that there are better (risk reducing) ways to learn to drive, like graduated licences and a ‘consistent driver learning experience through defined training’. These may be seen by new or first time voters as attempts to restrict what some regard as a ‘right to drive’, rather than what should be regarded as ‘a privilege to drive’. Improvements could be seen as restricting / delaying a licence and therefore a ‘vote loser’. Andrew also told us of evidenced research that showed that the part of the brain that identifies and recognises hazards (and therefore leads to effective management of road risk) does not develop fully until the age of 25. Nature may resrict just how much we can do to reduce the risks for young drivers, suggesting that significantly raising awareness of risk, greater hazard awareness training and driving simulation for example may be a way forward. I do wonder how when you consider the evidence of the brain’s development just how many employers fully consider the younger driver in their ‘at work driving risk assessments’. Is there still too much of a ‘everyone drives, where is the risk and we are all the same’ approach to driving both socially and at work?

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January 2013 RoADAR Awards and Networking Conference

The subject of January’s meeting was a talk by Bill Brady and Stan Jones following their attendance on 24 November at the RoADAR Awards and Networking Conference held in Birmingham. This was only the second of such conferences, but it is encouraging to see that RoSPA recognises the work of the UK RoADAR Groups. Bill and Stan had composed an entry for our Group which was submitted in October for the Best Car Group Category. We were close to being selected as finalists Best New Group was Cornwall which had until the previous year been part of IAM. The change to RoADAR enabled them to change their membership structure so that they could encourage younger drivers and those that wanted to ‘put their toe in the water’. Runner up was North East Essex operating from the peninsular east of Chelmsford. Best Car Group was East Midlands. This Group was successful in the recruitment of younger members. Best Bike Group was Merseyside. We as a group have a number of times tried to persuade suitable bike members to start a bike section without success. Merseyside Group have in two years created a very large and friendly group whose members meet regularly. The win was largely due to their promotion and adoption of the Enhanced Rider Scheme and their road safety work with local councils. Further details are available in the press release at: http://www.rospa.com/news/releases/detail/default.aspx?id=1163

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October 2012 Collision In vestigation

Many thanks to Bob Wagstaff from Beds and Herts Police Collision Investigation Unit for an excellent talk and insight into the work of the Collision Investigation Unit.

Bob started with the serious message of road safety: His CV: “21 years of picking up dead bodies (from the roadside)”, 208,648 Road traffic incidents in 2010. 1,857 road deaths of which 437 (23%) were 17 to 24 year olds, 22,660 serious injuries and 185,995 minor injuries. An the estimated cost of just one road fatality? £1,585,510. Half of the drivers killed on the roads between 10pm and 4am are over the UK drink/drive limit:

That was the wake up call for the UK in general: We have already had that wake up call.

For comprehensive stats on Road Traffic incidents see: http://www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2011/

There is a lot of detail there to explore!
Bob then gave us an interesting insight into how he and the investigation team set about investigating a road traffic incident. Note the word ‘accident’ is not used as using that word implied there was nothing that could be done to avert what happens. Rarely the case of course and as it is estimated that 95 to 98% of road traffic incidents result from human error, most of what are generally termed ‘traffic accidents’ could be avoided.

We saw several videos of incidents including an HGV breaking through the crash barrier on the M1 near Toddington. Amazingly no fatalities. The driver claimed to have blacked out and knew nothing of the incident, yet the CCTV showed the application of brake lights by the HGV driver as well as steering attempt to try to avoid a collission. Not bad from someone claiming to have no recollection of what happened! Most incidents are not captured on CCTV which then makes Bob’s job more painstaking to try and establish what happened. It is a case of looking for the evidence; road surfaces, witnesses, tyre marks, debris (often what is left behind), and physics. Measurements from various points are taken and then it’s back to the office for the technical analysis. There are GPS devices that allow the road layout to be quickly plotted and various points noted. But the investigators still have to decide on what is a relevant point to record and whilst such devices may mean a road can be opened quicker it often results in more time back at the office analysing that data. It is the skill, knowledge and experience of Bob and his (human) team that finishes the investigation off. Many thanks Bob.

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September 2012 Magistrate in us all

Many thanks to Caroline Leonard for an excellent talk and insight into the often mysterious(?) work and processes of the Magistrates Court Service.
Caroline gave us an over view of the Magistatres Service: The induction process to become a become a magistrates and the (legal) constraints that a Magistatrate has to work to.

Magistrates are members of the local community appointed by the Lord Chancellor.

No formal qualifications are required but magistrates need intelligence, common sense, integrity and the capacity to act fairly. Membership should be widely spread throughout the area covered and drawn from all walks of life.

All magistrates are carefully trained before sitting and continue to receive training throughout their service. Magistrates are unpaid volunteers but they may receive allowances to cover travelling expenses and subsistence. Caroline gave us some interesting non identifiable scenarios from actual cases she has dealt with. Not surprisingly the cases were motoring related offences. Presenting us firstly with the case against the defendant to consider, what plea the defendant submitted we were asked us to consider how we thought it should be dealt with. Caroline then explained the process that she and her fellow magistrates went through, considering the evidence, pleas, witness statements, where legal advice is obtained from when needed and what circumstances including ability to pay are considered. We are all a bit wiser now on why some sentencing may appear to be (in our view) ‘a little lenient’. For those who wish to know more the following website is a very good start: http://www.magistrates-association.org.uk/ A most interesting talk perhaps best summed up as “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Magistrate, but never knew who to ask”.

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July 2012 Tour of Fire Appliances

Thank you Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service for an informative tour of your Barkers Lane facilities. The tour of the station’s pumps, emergency equipment etc. gave us an interesting and informative hour and a half. So intetesting that we were minutes away from being locked in to the Athletics Stadium car park! As a child (OK and as an adult!) Gerry Andersons Thunderbirds is one of my favourite TV programmes.

One of the fascinations for me was always the array of specialist equipment that the puppet heroes had at their disposal. The station tour felt very much like a a tour of ‘Tracy Island’ except it was real life not science fiction. It is frightening when you stop and consider what could go wrong, but it was very re-assurring to see just what the crews have at their disposal and to realises what a truly professional and committed emergency service force the fire service is. I am not inspired to take any additional risks in life, but it is re-assuring to know that if an emergency occurred these ‘fire fighters’ would be there without fail. The pumps are very much equipped with ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ – but I did spot somewhere to wash your hands! The Olympics and Paralympics have come and gone with no major emergencies and the crews were on standby to cover for a major disaster. Thankfully their services were not needed. Once again thanks for a great evening.

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April 2012

Many thanks to David Bowie, Head of Service Traffic Management at Central Bedfordshire for a very interesting and informative presentation on everything from traffic signs to road maintenance. The presentation and discussion started on the requirement for road signage and road markings as detailed in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Direction 2002. For those wanting to know it all in full detail the regulations can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/3113/contents/made

Contrary to general belief road signs are not compulsory, however those responsible for highways have a ‘duty of care’ towards road users, which they discharge in many ways including the provison of relevant road signage.

It was generally agreed that there were instances of ‘signage clutter’ which had the potential to negate the original reason for signs being there – which typically was to inform drivers of potential hazards.

Sometimes signs that were erected to inform of ‘NEW ROAD LAYOUTS’ seem (or actually do) become permanent road signs, but the road layout is no loger a new layout.

The reason for the “Caution Slippery Surface” sign is:

often a new road surface may take several weeks of traffic uses before it ‘beds in’ and provides the intended level of grip. After a few weeks the signs are not always removed. David also discussed the consideration factors that are taken into account when determining the construction and layout of a new road. We discussed the reason and merits of the mobile CCTV vehicles now used by both Mids Beds DC and Bedford Borough Councils and the adoption of the ‘shared space layouts’ phylosophy for road design and its effect on accident reduction.

We also discussed the merits of hard shoulder running, variable speed limits on motorways. Mass carnage did not materialise following its introduction. In some instances accident rates have so far not increased and dare I say it? …………… Traffic flow is improved!

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March 2012 AGM

Another succesful AGM with a fantastic selection of cake, tea and coffee. Our Chairman Bill provided us with a concise summary of the last year. Bill advised that our group still flourishes and that we have seen loyal and interested members at our monthly meetings over the past year. ‘Your committee again excelled by providing quizzes and thought-provoking discussions.’
Bill thanked the team of Tutors who give up their time to ensure that Associates and Members have the best advantage when taking the test.

Bill also thanked The Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service who continue to allow us to use their facilities (at no cost to the group), for which we are very grateful.

Bill sent his thanks to Lisa Dorn (our retiring President) for her support over the past three years. He also welcomed our new President Acting Chief Inspector Jane Aspin at this meeting. We have some exciting and hopefully fruitful ideas about ‘partnership working’, which we will keep members informed as they hopefully come together.

The new committee was elected.

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February 2012 Local Examiner Simon Hill

Many thanks to Simon Hill, our main local driving examiner for an interesting and informative presentation that generated much discussion on: “Roundabouts DSA Line v Straightline” or “How to Negotiate Roundabouts Safely”.

As we should all recall the way we were taught to negotiate roundabouts to pass the (non advanced) DSA driving test is not depending on road and traffic conditions the way an advanced driver would always negotiate a roundabout. Roadcraft advises in chapter 4 – ‘A moving vehicle is at its most stable when its weight is evenly distributed, its engine is just pulling without increasing road speed & it is travelling in a straight line’.

By default the DSA taught way, “stay in lane and follow the roundabout contour” may inherently make the vehicle less stable than, where it is safe and possible to do so, negotating a roundabout in a manner often referred to as “straight lining”.

Simon presented us with the non-complex theory of weight balance and vehicle stability, showing why the DSA way is likely to be the higher risk option to follow. There will however be circumstances, for example in very busy traffic, where ‘staying in lane’ through a roundabout is safer than ‘straight lining’ and as Simon emphasised:

‘Safety should always be your number one consideration’

And ‘If you are unhappy with any aspect of what you are about to do, DON’T DO IT!’

I can only conclude that when it comes to roundabouts there is far more to their safe use then often meets the eye. Don’t forget at all times use the system of car control. Use all available information that is available to you to decide your position, speed, gear and acceleration.

Simon’s other advice to us all was “Practice is an essential part of learning” and “Drive to what you see, not what you know”. The latter reminds me of someone I know who reversed off their driveway into the side of a car parked opposite their drive. The excuse for not noticing the car was there? “The car was not there when I parked on my drive an hour ago!!!”

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15th November 2011 - Eric Simpson Retires

Below is a brief résumé from Stan Jones of Eric’s involvement with our group:

ERIC SIMPSON has been the RoSPA Regional Senior Examiner for many years and has supported the Bedford Group since its inauguration in 1997. He has talked at our meetings on several occasions guiding associates in what they may expect in their tests and how to help their performance.

Full day in car training days have been a great help to Observers (now Tutors) over the years and Eric’s humour has made them all enjoyable events. He has always been receptive to comments we have made regarding RoSPA’s expectations and how they have varied between examiners and it has been Eric’s skills that enabled him to monitor those differences.

I had known Eric for some years prior to the Bedford Group formation as secretary of the previous but now defunct Mid Beds Group. I arranged around 25 years ago for a fleet of tanker drivers and sales representatives to be examined by RoSPA and Eric examined the HGV tanker drivers. So it is not just cars in which he has the skills but also HGV.

Bill and Eric Eric with Clock

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16th October 2007 - Heart Start course

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the monthly newsletter did not get to people in time. We still had 9 members attend what was a very interesting evening - which could save a life.
Bill, who is a first aid trainer gave us a chance to learn CPR and how to help someone who is choking. Martin also showed how to use a defibrilator, another way to help save a life.

Practise makes perfect

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17th July 2007 - Addressed from the "bench"

As a special treat, we were all made Magistrates for the evening..... and had to pass sentence on several cases.

These were real cases - with the names changed - and the range of sentences available to us.

Our own Caroline Leonard JP and Duncan Gear JP were on hand to assist and tell us how the courts operate. It's not as easy as it sounds, and this explained why some cases you or I would class as serious get seemingly lenient sentences.

All in all a very enjoyable evening, and a steep learning curve.

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19th June 2007 - Fire HQ Kempston



Road Accident Recovery Vehicle Road Accident Recovery Vehicle Road Accident Recovery Vehicle


We had a tour round the Road Accident Recovery Vehicle. This vehicle was designed in consultation with the firemen, and carries most everything they need at the scene of a road collision. There is only one in the county, and some say it is the best in the country.

After this we also had the chance to see round the fire control room and chat to the opperators on duty. Fortunately, it had quietened down after several lightning strikes earlier in the evening and a fire in the centre of Bedford.

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17th October2006 - Annual Quiz



Quiz Master Andrew


The annual quiz is getting tougher - and none more so than the one prepared by Andrew. 100 questions on a wide range of topics (10 different rounds of 10) and only 12 questions (that I counted) on driving!!. The top score was in the 60's - so a very vallient effort from Northamptonshire’s Finest (but I think the acknowledgement should be Northamptonshire’s Finest with a touch of Bedford’s Best). All in all, a very enjoyable evening was had by all.

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19th September2006 - TrafficMaster



TrafficMaster TrafficMaster


Back in April we had Mick Savage from TraficMaster come and talk to us. At the time he suggested a visit to their HQ in Cranfield. This was the meeting where this happened. It was very interesting seeing "behind the scenes" and the data live on screen.

TrafficMaster TrafficMaster

We were also able to see the streetside devices up close. Do you recognise them?? We also had the chance to listen in to several requests for directions to the "Live" sat nav team. We also noted the number of occasions when the "Siren" went off alerting the staff to vehicles which had moved without the ignition being on. These are suspected thefts - but the vast number are where the owner is having the vehicle towed by a recovery firm - or on a ferry!!

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18th July2006 - Chris Gilbert



Chris Gilbert & Chairman Stan 
Jones


This meeting saw a visit from Chris Gilbert. Those of us who attended (and if you didn’t then you missed a real treat) were entertained for nearly two hours by a mixture of fact, humour and anecdotes from a man who literally has done it all with regard to Advanced Driving.

All in all, this was a meeting not to be missed, and we had a good turnout on such a hot night.

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9th July2006 - Honda Formula 1

As an extra meeting, two groups of 4 headed to Brackley and the office of Honda formula 1 (formerly BAR) for a tour of their facilities.

The tour was predicted to last about an hour. Two hours or more later, the groups emerged into the day light. This was more the fact that they had asked so much about what they were being shown, than boredom!

They were shown the complete path from an idea, to a car on the track. How subtle parts of the car have been formed to give the designers the aerodynamic shape, but still keep within the criteria of the official bodies of F1. How strong the actual structure of the car is, while still so light.

Also how, even during the qualifying day, if the designers can shave a second off the lap times a part can be re-jigged. Manufactured and shipped anywhere in the world ready for race day the next day!

To then be able to have pictures taken alongside the car was a keepsake worth treasuring!

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20th June 2006 - Impromptu meeting

As Stan has often said to the committee after an impromptu meeting, they often end up being better than a planned event, this meeting was one of the best I have been to.

Bill wondered what presentations he had on his memory stick, but before looking, we found the HGV theory driving test on the computer, and we were also lucky enough to have Malcolm Taylor in the audience, who is an HGV driver for ANC.

Malcolm was coerced into talking us through the slides and answered general questions from the floor. All in all, a very interesting insight from the point of view of HGV drivers on the road.

Considering that there was also a sporting event on TV this evening, the meeting was very well attended.

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21st February 2006 - Dr Lisa Dorn - Research Director of DriverMetrics® and Head of the Driving Research Group at Cranfield University

Dr Dorn gave a very interesting and thought provoking presentation on her work in assessing the behavioural aspects of driver training – specifically with the Police and Bus drivers to a packed house.


Dr Lisa Dorn & Chairman Stan Jones


Lisa has also created a web based DriverMetrics® tools to assess individuals against the “norm” for their group. In discussion after the meeting, she is interested in getting results from a group such as ours to create the “norm” for advanced non-police drivers. The test is available online on www.drivermetrics.co.uk. Hopefully passwords will be available soon for the group to do the test for real!

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19th October 2005 - Casualty Reduction Partnership

A very informative and believe it or not interesting evening. It is surprising how a small reduction in speed makes so much difference in the number of serious collisions.

It also amazed me how well the "Killed or Serious Injured" casualty numbers have fallen at camera sites and you can trust Bedfordshire to have the most improved stretch of road in Britain (A505 Leighton to Linslade Southern Bypass) where the KSI has fallen from 19 in three years to just 4 in three years (79% reduction). Lots of numbers crunched during the evening, but this was justified and really hit home!

To see the partnerships newsletter, click here

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20th July 2005 - A Practical Evening

This meeting was kept as secret as possible, but I think all who attended learnt something.
Those who attended were split into three groups and rotated between the practical tests we had set for them.

How good are your reactions? Sitting in a car with two red lights in front of you, this test found out how fast you can apply the brakes. The results displayed how long in seconds and also how far you would have travelled at 30mph and 70mph.

How well do you know your cockpit? Blindfolded, each member was asked to operate 10 items in their own car. No one was able to do all 10 immediately. Everyone hesitated with some of the requests!!

How good is your eyesight? We had an eyesight testing machine which was able to find most eyesight defects. Quite an eye opener for some!!

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19th October 2004 - Another Fine Day Part 2

Bill Brady, the Road Safety Manager at Bedfordshire County Council, explained the background to the national "For my Girlfriend" campaign and why in Bedordshire a slightly different approach is being taken to reduce the number of young people killed or injured in the first few months after passing their driving test. He first presented a video that was produced last year that shows a young couple on the day before they were due to married collecting a new car and crashing into a wall in St Pauls Square in Bedford. In this crash the boy's girlfriend, who was a passenger in the car died. In part 2 of the video, which is currently being finalised and Bill showed us a incomplete version, concentrates on the effects of the accident on the driver, who is distraught at killing his girlfriend, and her family. It shows the mortatury at Bedford Hospital and the court case. This video has a very powerful message and is to be shown to school children just before they reach the age of 17.



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20th April 2004 - Quiz Night

Our Treasurer, David Lee again produced an entertaining quiz with only 3 questions about driving. The other questions were (supposed to be!) general knowledge which would imply that the knowledge was generally known. However as some one who didn't know that the dog in the Wizard of Oz is called Toto and that Uranus is the only planet in the Solar System that rotates on its side, I would have to disgree. However everyone who attended had an enjoyable time and congratulations to the winning team.



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20th January 2004 - Police Control Room

For our meeting this month we were pleased to once again visit the control room of Bedfordshire Police. This is the third time Group has visited the Control Room. The first time was in 1999 just before a major refurbishment and extension. For the second visit in 2001 we saw the new control room and on this occassion we saw how the new conrol room had settled down. The control room is divided in to two parts. The first part receives all external calls to police stations throughout Bedfordshire all 999 calls directed to the Police. The second and larger part acts as the communication centre for all police officers on patrol in Bedfordshire. The place is crammed full of all the latest computer equipment including electronic mapping and call logging facilities. The control room receives all calls from the emergency telephones alongside the M1 in Bedfordshire as well as having access to CCTV cameras that monitor the traffic on the M1. This was a very entertaining and informative evening.


Police Control Room



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29th November 2003 - Skidpan

On a wet & windy day 11 members and a guest braved the elements to go to the skid pan at Desborough Airfield run by Precision Driving & Roadcraft. The friendly instructors first demonstrated skid control techniques in front and rear wheel drive cars. The members and guest were then coached in skid control followed by the opportunity to practice on their own. The skid pan was well lubricated with water (and the best quality corn oil!) and the tyres were inflated to a high pressure and had no tread which meant that skid control could be safely practiced at a little over 10mph. As the rain increased and the corn oil got washed away, the speeds increased along with the confidence of the attendees. A fun and enjoyable day despite the weather conditions. However with careful application of roadcraft techniques we hope never to get into a skid in the first place, but it is good to have this training as an insurance against this possibility.


skid



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18th November 2003 - The gritters are coming.....

The days of being showered with grit, on nights it does not freeze, or hearing they haven't gritted yet it is icy, may never happen again. Our speaker this evening was Colin Dowding from Carillion-URS who manage and maintain the motorway and trunk roads in the Bedford area.

Colin explained how his many years of experience help to keep the road network open when ice forms or snow falls. He explained the new technologies that are being used such as spreading pre-wetted 6mm salt instead of 10mm salt to minimise damage to vehicles and reduce the amount of salt blown to the side of the road and how GPS and computer equipment on the gritter now control the operations. He also explained the sophisticated equipment used to decide when the grit the roads such as automatic weather stations on the side of the road and equipment that are installed to measure road surface temperature.

However despite all this technology it can still rely on the gut feeling and instincts of an experienced engineer because, as we all know, the weather forecasts are often wrong. He brought a gritter to the meeting so that everyone could see the technology for themselves. But the star of the show was "Graham the Gritter" a character created by Carillion to explain to children the work done to keep our roads safe in the winter.

For information about safe driving in winter, visit the Think! Road Safety website

Colin gritter gritter Stan
Colin Dowding A gritter A gritter Our chairman Stan Jones takes a closer look

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