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 Roadcraft, an introduction
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  1:58 AM
Talking about Roadcraft in general I have heard that there was a New York (State?) police force which was having so many driving accidents that they brought in drivers from outside their force area to drive their vehicles. Incredible but apparently true. Somehow they came across the British Police driver training system and ended up sending an officer to Hendon for some six weeks. The programme he (presuming it was a 'he') instigated dramatically increased the driving safety level in that force area. What has happened since then I don't know.

Chris Gilbert's website is www.driving4tomorrow.com. I understand he is in the process of doing another DVD. He was also responsible for teaching Princes William and Harry to drive.
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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  6:59 AM
quote:
Originally posted by Nigel A


Chris Gilbert's website is www.driving4tomorrow.com. I understand he is in the process of doing another DVD. He was also responsible for teaching Princes William and Harry to drive.



I like the picture at the top of the page which shows the difference between main beam and dipped beam.

"Driving with eyes on 'dipped beam' is a very common fault which produces reactionary driving. The photo above shows how with eyes on 'dipped' you only see what's just in front of you."

In my opinion, they really do mean to spend most of your time looking farther down the road. With practice, one can see what's close while looking far, but one can't see what's far when looking close.

We've all seen the person who drives on dipped beam. They never realize their lane closes until it closes. Then they get boxed in while trying to merge to the other lane. They also do things like get surprised when a stale green light turns yellow.

My scan is similar to the one in the picture, but also includes close and far scans to the sides as well as checking the mirrors. There are times I focus inward such as a busy intersection or critters crossing the road. When something inward demands my attention, I'll often slow.

I'm not a big fan of commentary riding as I find my words can't keep up with my thoughts. I know there are others who can do it. When I was new, I tried it out. I found single words were better than sentences. However, I am a big fan of using videos and commentary. Pause the video where a lot of commentary would be appropriate, then move on. If one practices this, than commentary driving can occur at the speed of thought which is much faster than words.

Here is a good link which discusses improving situational awareness:

http://www.2pass.co.uk/awareness.htm#Understand

In the first section it states that people can only keep this up for 20 to 40 minutes. With practice, this period can be extended, but it's helpful to know what one's personal limit is and take a break after that amount of time.

Another concept in the link I find helpful is looking for the presence of something. A couple years ago, there was a thread on "How far can you see on a head turn?" One poster said it's psychologically better to look for the presence of something than the absence of something as our mind fills in the blanks. An indication that this isn't being done is that little jump of surprise at seeing a car in our blind spot when we look.

Nigel, in the first part of the thread you said this: "Looking at the forum there seems to be a lot of concern about safety, naturally enough, but little unified way of going about it."

I agree completely. MSF teaches disjointed exercises designed to teach basic control. For what it is, it's fine. But it would be nice if there was a syllabus to follow after the basic rider course. I once tried to make such a unified course, but the project was very big and there was no interest, so I stopped.

We could do such a thing here. People could contribute ideas they feel are crucial, and then a moderator could put them in an order to be learned in a large file. A link could be put next to the safety tips called "Unified Rider Training" or something.
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  7:40 AM
rioguy. Yes, Chris Gilbert's idea of looking on either dipped-beam or full-beam is a good one. He was intimately involved in the creation of the Roadcraft video (http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore....0&DI=520490.
Commentary is a developed art and one will never be able to speak at the rate the brain processes information, therefore catch phrases and economy of words are essential. The transferring thoughts to words in a continuous and fluid fashion only comes with practise. One of my catch phrases which will come at the beginning of a commentary is, 'Looking out for areas of potential conflict in order to avoid them'.

On the driving/riding development side I have what I call a twelve drive programme which is designed to bring people up to the RoSPA Gold Advanced Standard. This also encompasses positioning (as in lateral positioning), dealing with bends, what I call the basic safety position and, obviously, overtaking. This is supported by a 60 page (or so) D12 Manual which normally goes to associates (via the advanced driving group) at 15 a time. The D12 programme is obviously based around Roadcraft but was checked for me by police driving instrutors.

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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  8:25 AM
For those who are unfamiliar with commentary riding, here is an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oitkGP-_5M

A person could easily make such a video without commentary and then after the ride stop it every few seconds and explain what they are looking for.

As I thought about it, I do use catch words. For instance, when I approach an intersection, I say "left, right, past" meaning I check the left turn lane and cross traffic, the right cross traffic and hazards just past the intersection like driveways and pedestrians.

This isn't ALL I check, it's just some of the important things I tend to miss.

One difficulty with this type of training is it takes a lot of effort. Not many are willing to do it. It also takes an admission there are better ways of doing things. Although I've suggested I don't like commentary riding, I'm going to spend some time practicing it and perhaps make a video. I have to figure out how to record the voice.
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gymnast
Moderator
4267 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  9:42 AM
Nigel A, are you familiar with the "Smith System" for perceptual training by Harold Smith, and the task analysis derived "SIPDE" concept as it relates to active search and scan behavior, information processing and the management of vehicle guidance and control tasks?
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  4:56 PM
rioguy. On commentary for m/cs also look for the Kent Police Driving School items on YouTube which would have been done in the 1980s. They took a BMW 100RT and removed the windcreen to give a clear view for the camera, viz: http://www.youtube.com/results?sear...tocycle&aq=f

Howver, out of interest, my advice is be wary of taking anything (for example in YouTube)under the advanced biker heading on overtaking at face value. Some are good, therefore sound and safe, and some are not so much so. Anything which is what I call sling-shot is automatically dubious. A good example of an overtake not being in that category can be seen in the Thames Valley sequence taken from a helicopter following a police rider with commentary. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yqy...ture=channel)

You mention catch words (cum phrases). I like yours on check left, right and past, much the same as 'check junction left'(because for us the ones on the left (we call nearside) are potentially the most dangerous. And then 'clear and safe (i.e. to proceed)', is a good general clipped phrase to use. It says a lot in three words. It's also good to use before commitment to an overtake, for example. However what Ithink you are also doing is taking ownership of your own safety and leave nothing to chance (bar the 'critters' of course). Indeed all the safest drivers and riders do just that and so take full responsibility for what ever happens. Accepted there are no 100% rules, but many of the ones which fall into, say, the 2% possibility category are so minor and remote they can generally be discounted. But yes, you are always aware of the possibility they might happen.

Yes, training takes alot of effort and, as you say, that can be too much for some people. I remember talking with another Hendon Advanced Wing Instructor and asked him what the temperamental makup was of a good driver. He said 'self discipline and restraint combined with a pince of aggression'. That wasn't inter-personal aggression. It merely reflected, for him, a positive state of mind where by he was always planning the possibility of the next safe overtake (presuming open road conditions, of course).

gymnast asked whether I am aware of the 'Smith System. and SIPDE. I wasn't until you mentioned it and then Googled it. Yes, of course, the essence of what he talking about is completely sound because all of what we do is based on being able to see and assess as far ahead as possible. We call it observation and planning. I don't know about defining it in such absolute terms, which is what achaedemics are much inclined to do: they have to categorise or pidgeon-hole everything, partly so that they can do statistics on them et al. I would say just look as far ahead as possible, look for the problem areas, roughly categorise or prioritise them (they may change as you get closer)and apply System as necessary to ensure that you approach them (singly or collectively) in a suitably safe position and at a speed where you could stop if thing suddendly changed to your disadvantage.

I am afraid I have a somewhat cynical view of many of academics and their involvement in in road safety. I am sure I am wrong in a number of cases but they often seem to be on a rolling bandwagon of writing papers and all of that. In fact I often wonder whether writing the papers is actually more important than the subject matter they are writing about. We had a classic case over here where one such individual with so many letters after his or her name and a claimed expert in driver behaviour was asked to write the mental aspect (Ch 1) of the current Roadcraft. Up they came with the text but it was so far off the mark that it was thrown out and Dr Gordon Sharp's contribution was put in instead. That is largely based on the work he did with the Scottish (police) Driving School at Tulliallan Castle and is also reflected in his excellent book, 'Human Aspects of Police Driving'. Not all chapters apply to civilian driving, obviously, but many of them do. As one reference see, http://www.acpo.police.uk/asp/polic.../pursuit.doc. It can be bought, for example, at http://www.whsmith.co.uk/CatalogAnd...1568004.html

Nigel
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gymnast
Moderator
4267 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  6:14 PM
Nigel A, actually the Smith System and the SIPDE concepts are at the applied level of training vehicle operators and are the result of the distillation of a great deal of research done during the period 1930-to the 1960s and are not the starting point but rather the implementation of the the results of a vast body of research. The academic side has a great deal to do with the formal preparation of competent professionals in the field of traffic safety.

I am sorry to say that the academic side of things has been negatively affected by the vastly greater influence of the political, law enforcement and "special interests" sides that have come to dominate the human side of traffic safety in the US. The integration of the "Three E's", Education, Enforcement and Engineering that characterized the organized traffic safety effort in the US from the 1930s to the 1970s has been replaced by a couple of new "E's", namely "empathy and "Enactment".

The "Empathy E" is the public expression of concern regarding most any traffic safety matter by the media, government bureaucrats, and elected public officials. It tends to be fleeting, shallow, and expedient. The "Enactment E", while it has always been present as a last resort, has come to the fore as the primary traffic safety "problem solver of choice" It is based upon the belief that society can legislate it's way to "safety" by means of enacting and expedient implementation of legislation and solve most any individual or societal problem.

Having a bit of background in the development and teaching of police pursuit and emergency personnel driver training, the police training document you reference appears to be an excellent outline.
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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 05/26/2009 :  7:42 PM
quote:
Nigel said:
I think you are also doing is taking ownership of your own safety and leave nothing to chance (bar the 'critters' of course).


Some critters seem to come out of nowhere and luck will play a role although I've never had it happen. Yes, I have been late in seeing them sometimes and I kick myself.

Last July, I went out for four rides specifically to look for critters. I got four good videos. My scan is very disciplined where critters are common (which is almost anyplace outside the city.) I start far and work my way in, then work my way out and back again. Getting both sides of the road. I try to imagine being a deer and especially look for grassy areas where they seem more common. Mountain goats are becoming a bigger problem here. Unlike deer, they don't seem to move when they see a car. They just stand and watch.

Here are the videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZN0...ture=related (due to low resolution this one is real hard to see)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5D5...ture=related (Bighorn sheep)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALOq...ture=related (Deer which is hard to see, then an antelope. This one is really fun to watch.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV1g...ture=related (The deer are late in the video, so enjoy the scenery for awhile.)



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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  1:05 AM
gymnast. Thanks for the explanantion on the Smith System and SIPDE. Actually, when you come down to it, it is just another way of approaching the implimentation of System as found in Roadcraft, with more emphasis on the technique of observing (aka scanning).

Over here the RS people have gone over to thinking tha of the three Es, Education is now the key, but most of them haven't yet realised that better driver cum rider training is realy the key to this in the wider sense. Most of their 'eduction' is done at schools level, which is important enough but only part of the whole.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  3:15 PM
quote:
Originally posted by scottrnelson

...two seconds...it's enough following distance for them to make an emergency stop and for you to notice and be able to stop without hitting them. The two second distance applies at all times, including when starting out from a stop light or stop sign.

Certainly three or four or ten seconds of following distance would be "safer", but two seconds is good enough. And in heavy freeway traffic it's hard enough to get even two seconds without having someone else fill the gap.

For those insisting on a following distance greater than two seconds, I would appreciate seeing a reference to where that number came from.


From today's Better Motorcycling, Safe Stopping Time:

Is 2 seconds enough time?

The 2-second rule is meant as a safety buffer for time to respond. If an event is unanticipated, 1.6 seconds will be consumed in your reaction alone, how much more time will you need to complete an avoidance maneuver? Is the two seconds an adequate safety buffer?

Two seconds may be enough at speeds less than 30 mph. However, remember perception/reaction time is not factored into any of the stopping times for the equivalent braking distances.

The following speed ranges show the braking time to stop on normal, dry, level roads:

20 mph and 30 mph = 1.2 secs to 1.8 secs
35 mph to 45 mph = 2.1 secs to 2.7 secs
50 mph to 60 mph = 3.0 secs to 3.6 secs

If you are traveling at 50 mph hour, you need at least 3 seconds of braking time to stop within the clear distance ahead.

The following table shows varying stopping times (equivalent to braking distance) from 10 mph to 60 mph:

Stopping Times

MPH Seconds
10 = 0.608
15 = 0.911
20 = 1.215
25 = 1.519
30 = 1.823
35 = 2.127
40 = 2.430
45 = 2.734
50 = 3.038
55 = 3.342
60 = 3.646

For obvious reasons the "safe following distance at any speed" cannot be true. While reaction time may remain constant, at speeds greater than 30 mph you need more distance = time.

And one reader posted the following comment which sums it up pretty well, in my opinion:
quote:
If you ride using the two second rule you either havent thought this through logically or you have a death wish. A two second following distance only works under ideal conditions where you are focused on on the vehicle in front of you. Get distracted for a fraction of a second and have the car in front of you hit the brakes and your in a panic braking situation. Coming to a tire smoking stop half an inch short of a rear bumper can be a real eye opener.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6890 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  3:37 PM
quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa

The 2-second rule is meant as a safety buffer for time to respond. If an event is unanticipated, 1.6 seconds will be consumed in your reaction alone...

I disagree right there. Maybe someone having a heated discussion on their cell phone needs 1.6 seconds to react, but the average driver/rider that is paying attention to driving/riding needs between 0.5 and 0.75 seconds to react.

If your reaction time is 1.6 seconds then I would have to agree that you had better leave a three or four second following distance.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  3:38 PM
Welcome to the site Nigel A! I am very pleased that you have elected to share with us your experience regarding Roadcraft and riding safety. Thanks.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  3:41 PM
quote:
Originally posted by scottrnelson

quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa

The 2-second rule is meant as a safety buffer for time to respond. If an event is unanticipated, 1.6 seconds will be consumed in your reaction alone...

I disagree right there. Maybe someone having a heated discussion on their cell phone needs 1.6 seconds to react, but the average driver/rider that is paying attention to driving/riding needs between 0.5 and 0.75 seconds to react.

If your reaction time is 1.6 seconds then I would have to agree that you had better leave a three or four second following distance.


That's fine. Let's say it takes you .5 second to react. At 50 mph it still takes 3 seconds to stop on dry pavement. What then?
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  3:55 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I too can't imagine taking anywhere near 1.6 seconds to react.

The following distance premise the article is forgetting is that the vehicle your following will also require time and distance to stop.

I just don't ride my bike on the interstates near me, they're crazy in a car, but on a 2 lane highway I'll follow at more than 2 seconds just so that I can have a better view of road defects or obstacles. To me, the bigger traffic hazard on the interstates is from the sides and rear, than up front.
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  4:00 PM
Thanks, Aidenspa, for the welcome. It is intersting to compare thoughts and ideas with riders on your side of the pond, as we say.

Particularly intersting, at the moment is the discussion about following distance. My own input would be going for a minimum you can get away with does not make alot of sense. And if a rider needs to hang on the brakes then they are automatically part of the problem (albeit whilst simultaineiously doing their best to stay out of it) instead of being part of the solution, which is being well back and letting it all happen in front of you. Interestingly at our legal maximum of 70mph (motorways and dual-carriageways) you are actually travelling at 105 feet per second. A judge reckoned that bringing it down to smaller units (instead of miles per hour) actually gave a better idea of the real speed being travelled at. And the minimum overall stopping distance at that speed is 315 feet. At 80 it is 400 feet, 90 is 540 and 100 is 600 feet. Also if you ever travel at 100 you are actually moving at 173 feet a second.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  4:18 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Nigel, I don't think the discussion is about "the minimum you can get away with", but what would be a MINIMUM safe following distance.

I agree with Scott that on a multiple lane highway, attempting to keep a 4 second space would be futile, in the respect that the space would be quickly filled by someone else. At least in moderately congested traffic.

At least one advantage riding a motorcycle has is eye level, where we should be able to see further down the road than the average automobile.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6890 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  4:20 PM
quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa

That's fine. Let's say it takes you .5 second to react. At 50 mph it still takes 3 seconds to stop on dry pavement. What then?

It also takes whatever vehicle you're following three seconds to stop, so you end up stopping behind them. I already pointed out that the two second following distance isn't valid if whoever you're following hits a brick wall and you don't notice it's there until they hit. But two seconds is enough to notice someone in front of you making an emergency stop and to get stopped yourself before you hit them.

I'm making the assumption that you have to pay attention to what's happening in front of you for a two second distance to be safe.
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  4:28 PM
quote:
Originally posted by rkfire

The following distance premise the article is forgetting is that the vehicle your following will also require time and distance to stop.

I would be hesitant to stake my life on the quality of the brakes in the car ahead of me and the reaction time/braking ability of the person driving it. You never know what the other drivers will do, positively, so why not give yourself a little slack? What's the worst that could happen from hanging back a bit? What is the downside?


Nigel A -

Thank you for that. In your experience, what makes a rider resistant to the concept of hanging back and letting the problem happen in front of them?
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  4:55 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Well, my point was the time and distance in order to hit the vehicle ahead of you in that article does not account for the car ahead continuing ahead even as they might slam on their brakes for some reason. They're a moving target, consuming time and distance also.

Keeping space between you and all vehicles on the road is always a great idea. Keeping more than a minimum distance is what I do, but on a moderate to highly congested multi-lane road, it might be impossible to keep a distance of say 4 seconds. The traffic in other lanes will fill that void continuosly, inviting new potential hazards on a regular basis. Vehicles may also tailgate, if they percieve you are not keeping pace.

I also think on a 2 lane road there's no hazard of lane changing in your following distance, but there's also the potential that if you follow the car ahead by more than 2 seconds, but less than say...4 seconds, traffic from side streets or parking lots might perceive the space as adequate to pull out. I'm guess-timating the time interval for this though. I know on a recent ride with a friend, with him in front, I felt he left this sort of in between space, and encouraged more encroachment into the space than I would have. I guess I would have either left less space, or much more space.


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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 05/27/2009 :  5:07 PM
I note your point, rkfire, but personally I wouldn't generally think in terms of the minimum safe following distance. But then safe can be difference things to different people, depending alot on their risk profile. When we get new 'associates' we essentially do two things with them. We increse their threat perception and simultaineously that automatically reduces their risk profile. But in stopping distances there are those who will have to brake very firmly because of a situation in front and they think they are safe becaue they haven't hit anything. In my mind this would be potentilly unsafe and a closer call than I would like. If it happened to me then I would not be looking far enough ahead or/and picking up up the clues. Because very seldom does anything really happen 'out of the blue'(except for those eternal critters!). Even then you might say, 'This looks a lot like Bighorn country...'.

Which flowing nicely to aidenspa's point about the resistance to hanging back. In my experience it is mainly, well it must be primarily, a mind-set thing. I remember asking Sgt Pat Forbes who, at the time, was an Advanced Wing Instructor at Hendon, what the mental make up of a good driver is. He said (and don't forget he's one of the people who was teaching people to go as fast as possible and stay safe on the roads. In those days it was up to around 130mph (now adays is is in the upper 150s on advanced courses), 'Self-discipline and restraint', then he went on to say, '.. with a pinch of aggression'. Of course he didn't mean any form of inter-personal aggression. He was just meaning enough forward thinking, and intent to make safe progress and do safe overtakes in the process. May I repeat the point because it is easily lost. That is, 'self-discipline and restraint' coming from one who teaches the highest form of pursuit training. When I get a new associate the first thing I am looking for is what I call the 'off reflex'. If anything happens in front of them which might threaten their safety I want to see some reaction from them that they are prepared to stop should the need arise; just a subtle lifting of the foot on the throttle will do. It is almost a contradictory thing. But is also almost a Zen type thing. You are enjoying yourself (riding or driving) but simultaineously you are emotionally detached. You might want to make progress, but should that not be feasable (that is safe to do - or any possibility of safe to do so) then that mind-set also allows you to hold back and be happy to do so. It makes no difference that you are late for an appointment (but leave more time next time) if there is undue urgency there it will affect the ability to willingly exercise restraint.

The police (and Roadcraft) call it red-mist. It is basically where the urgency to make progress (whether it is the police going to an incident or a commuter impatiently wanting to get home) where the desire to make the progress diminishes the threat perception and so the vulnerability factor increases. That is the difference between, if you like someone who will call themselves a good driver or rider and someone who is really good. The difference with the UK police trained to advanced standard is that this mindset is ground into them; it is largely a training thing. But of course it's all a matter of willpower and application. There is no reason why any average rider or driver can't think like that if they want to.

The problem, in part, is probably also our society which seems to be increasingly impatient and quickly wants to tick boxes. The mindset thing takes work, or as Jim Rohn so succintly says, 'Unless you change how you are you will alway have what you've got.' To get the changes you have to make the effort first and then keep practising it - consistently. Many people today won't do that and so won't really reap the benefits bcoming safer. It's the same with System in Roadcraft. It's a sequence; a method. To do it well and get it ingrained into you you need to keep doing it consistently ever day, every ride until it becomes seond nature.

Another worthwhile example comes from Derek Van Petegem, yet another Hendon Advanced Wing Instructor and for many years the primary skid-pan instructor there. Derek alway said that the art of going fast was knowing when to go slowly. That simple statement evolved and matured in my mind over a number of years. There is much more depth in that than meets the eye. Recently I included it in an article I wrote called 'Four Phrases'. I will happily forward a copy to anyone who wants one.

Edited by - Nigel A on 05/27/2009 5:20 PM
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