The myth of the intensive driving course
We make the above point because it is sometimes heard that the giving of “intensive course” training is inferior to the plod along alternative of ‘pay as you go’ driving lessons. When driving instructors provide sessions of 1 or 2 hours, it naturally restricts how far a pupil can travel in that session – very often within the town/city they started off in. Whereas our driving sessions are typically longer (3-4 hours), it enables us to supervise our pupils driving on longer journeys. We have for a long time felt (admittedly without having the hard evidence) that our pupils will typically drive more than pupils who practice on pay as you go lessons for this reason.
A typical BIG TOM experience
A recent pupil living in Grantham, who did a 45-hour intensive driving course, drove to Nottingham, Peterborough, Lincoln and Sleaford. Even without the recording of mileage, we believe that pupils like this benefit from far more driving practice than those who do the 45 hours split over one or two hours. It is not uncommon to travel 70 miles in a training session with BIG TOM. This means that our pupils are experiencing life like journeys, using artery and country roads. It also makes for stimulating driving training for our franchisees.
We can only control what WE do
It, therefore, seems quite an injustice to us here at BIG TOM when we hear people suggesting that intensive courses are unsafe. We can’t speak for other intensive course providers, but here, we encourage our pupils to experience a wide range of driving experiences to develop their skills of defensive driving, raising hazard awareness and reducing risks. But the smart work is nurturing that practice in a safe training environment, which is where our carefully created systems prove their worth.
Safety records between training providers
We believe that if an accident occurs in a driving school car, it demonstrates a breakdown in the working relationship between instructor and pupil. It is not luck or coincidence that the BIG TOM safety record is so good. We pay attention to the key skills of maintaining road safety. Although an accident is often described as an unforeseen and unexpected event, the question needs to be asked is it preventable? We say this because if driving school “A” provides driving training with a significantly higher safety record than driving school “B”, it begs the question, how is one driving school preventing accidents when the other is not?
Some safety stats
Despite the lockdowns, these past two years, it is always informative to look at the statistics for UK road safety. The latest DfT updates for 2020 show us that fatalities dramatically reduced in 2020 to 1391, from 1658 in 2019. Likewise, the number of accidents went from 117,000 to 91,000. The vast majority of those accidents occurred on built-up roads with slower maximum speed limits. Cars are still involved in the majority of accidents when it comes to vehicle types. The worst performing county is Lincolnshire accounting for 51 of the total fatalities. In terms of pairing the contributory factors for accidents it always comes down to the eyes. Failing to look properly & failing to judge others path or speed is the number one pairing. [Source:DfT ras 10013 10001 20009 30038]
An adaptable driving training programme
We have heard from instructors and pupils that intensive course providers are training pupils on test routes only, and that is a matter for them. But here at BIG TOM, we work aligned to the DVSA driving standard, which means that we adapt our driving training programme to the pupil’s needs rather than expecting the pupil to perform to a fixed programme. When instructors invest in our franchise, they enter into a two-way obligation where the franchisor and franchisee are working with integrity. Having now had experience providing plod along driving lessons and intensive driving courses for over 12 years, we believe that intensive course pupils receive more driving practice, mile for mile, over the same number of hours in total. This benefit of extra driving helps our pupils be more confident, which is reflected in our above-average pass rate.