Planning Your Drive
Anyone who has been through the Skill for Life programme, or read a copy of Roadcraft, will know that one of the core parts of advanced motoring, alongside the System, is the concept of a driving plan. However, for those of you reading this who have not completed the programme, the next few paragraphs will hopefully explain why a driving plan is so important and give you some of the tools to start to devise your own.
What can be seen
The first element in any plan is to deal with the known knowns, those things that you can see and allow for. This could be a stationary hazard, such as a junction or roundabout, a moving hazard (such as another vehicle) or something weather-related (for example ice or rain). By understanding what you can see, you can then take action to avoid it or mitigate the effects of it, just as you do every time you get in your car.
What you cannot see
You also need to plan for the known unknowns - those things that you cannot see. What, for example is around the corner that you are approaching? What would you do if there was a cyclist on your side of the road and an oncoming vehicle that prevented you passing it immediately. Could you stop? By asking yourself what you cannot see, you immediately become more cautious and alert to the potential dangers that are around. Most incidents (they are not accidents, because they are avoidable) happen due to drivers being on familiar roads and not allowing for what they cannot see.
|What cannot be seen here? What could reasonably happen?|
What could reasonably be expected to happen?
Finally, based on what you can see and what you cannot see, what do you think will happen? This insight usually comes with driving experience (and is often verbalised with the "I knew he/she was going to do that") but is a vital skill for any advanced motorist. If you anticipate something it is, by definition, not unexpected. Therefore, you can take action before it occurs. For example, you are on a three lane motorway, with two lorries in lane one (nearest the hard shoulder), you are in lane two and there is nothing in lane three. You are closing up on the lorries, but the lorry behind is also closing up on the lorry in front of it. This is what you can see. What you could reasonably expect to happen in this circumstance is that the second lorry may indicate (but may not) and may pull out into lane two (i.e. in front of you) to overtake the first lorry. To mitigate this, and providing you were not holding up another vehicle in lane three, you could move out to lane three, leaving lane two clear. This either gives you a buffer, in case the lorry decides to do just what you anticipate, or allows the lorry to make progress by making the overtake easier. This example is especially pertinent if you observe that the lorry is not UK registered, and therefore may not be able to see down the right-hand side as easily as a UK one.
If you want to learn more about driving plans, and advanced driving in general, the Kent IAM Group runs courses three times a year from Grove Green, Maidstone and The Barn, Kingston Near Canterbury as well as a flexible alternative course. Contact our Associate1 Co-ordinator for more information, or visit the Kent Institute of Advanced Motorists website.