Between the ages of 18 and 24 years old (statistically the most likely period for a male driver to be killed on the road, a fact of which I was blissfully ignorant at the time) I was a white van courier, happily being paid by the mile and constantly battling against the clock; not a great combination!
Thankfully I, and everybody else, survived it and when I entered the driver training industry in 1999, whilst I may have already amassed something like 300,000 miles thus far, I was about as far from ‘correct’ in my driving style as it was possible to be. And like many of my clients, my only previous experience of driver training was in preparation for my Driving Test, and the overly prescriptive thinking that often goes with it; let me give you a couple of examples.
You should never cross your arms when steering and, always leave enough room in front whenever you stop in traffic, so that you won’t be pushed into the vehicle ahead if you are hit from behind. Sound familiar?
Firstly, my specific problem with these statements is the presence of the words ‘always’ and ‘never’.
Crossing your arms is generally considered to be a quicker way to change direction than the traditional ‘pull-push’ method (and yes, the ‘pull-push’ technique still features heavily in my driving so don’t take that as a belief that it never applies). My point is this; what if you are skidding towards a tree and the only way to prevent your family from hitting it is to cross your arms? It’s your choice but I know what I would do.
And as for the vehicle about to hit you from behind, I should just like to point out that it’s a 38 tonne Scania travelling at 46mph with dangerous chemicals on board; good luck with that!
As a natural cynic myself your scepticism is welcome, required in fact, to ensure that you explore the merits and limitations of every idea, concept and technique that I, or anyone else, suggests. Only then will you develop the variety of skills and understanding needed to match the variety of problems we can face each time we drive.
Or to quote Bruce Lee, a man famous for being both student and teacher:
“When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”