My Drivetech Speed Awareness Course Horror

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Yes, I got caught: 72 miles per hour on a deserted dual carriageway at a quarter to eight on a Sunday morning(!) in September with the sun pouring down and visibility perfection itself.  Deserted except for the mobile camera trap on the opposite carriageway. Unfortunately I was looking at the road ahead on my side of the dual carriageway. My error.

So it was a fair cop … ish.  I was exceeding the speed limit, and as I wasn’t exceeding it by much, Surrey Safety Camera Partnership (I won’t give you the web link to this. It uses such violent images and emotional blackmail that it borders on the obscene. I don’t want it associated with this blog)  in deep discussion with Surrey Police (they like to have the public on their side) decided that this errant non-conformist might benefit from a Driver Speed Awareness course run by Drivetech (UK) Ltd.  I attended it last week, and here is my report. It’s very long and doesn’t make easy reading.

Sad

I wandered into Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre (the venue for the course) well before the allotted time to join a gathering throng of 19 naughty boys and girls aged 20 to 70.  It SO reminded me of naughty children in school lining up outside the head’s study, I couldn’t help but chuckle, till I realised how sad this actually was: they appeared appropriately cowed and penitent, standing against the walls on either side of the entrance, playing with their phones, looking down, hiding behind their hair, avoiding eye contact, alone. Not good, I thought. All they’ve done is get caught for a mild infringement (by the Partnership’s own admission) of the speeding laws in this compliance-obsessed country. That’s all. Unfortunately for me, as I was about to find out later, if I’d appeared a bit more cowed and penitent it might have gone better for me.

No, this is NOT a right hand bend warning apparently.

I cracked a joke in these straitened circumstances (it went down like a lead balloon) to try and lighten the atmosphere, and chatted to the man next to me. How long have you been driving?  47 years, he whispered. Ever injured anyone?  No. Ever had an accident? No. Then what on earth is he doing here, I wondered. We smiled at each other, curious as to what might lie ahead. We waited and waited, and eventually the Course Director and his ardent trainer arrived.  Late.

The first three minutes

I was the last one to enter the room and the only chair I would fit into in this too-small crowded room was on the far side of the room. All the other classroom seats were taken. I sat down, and with passport checked, (no, really!) signed myself off on the clipboard.  I was ready and waiting expectantly. What happened next shook me. The trainer walked across the room straight at me, shoved a marker pen within inches of my face and told me to write the speed I had been caught doing on the whiteboard at the front for all to see. I was shocked to say the least and gently explained that I wouldn’t be doing that. The Course Director strode across to ‘speak’ to me, demanding that I show him my papers where it says quite clearly that I must fully participate in order to pass the training. But there was no pass or fail, I’d been told. Ah, yes, but I would not be signed off as having successfully attended the course unless I participated fully. “Satisfactory completion of the course shall be determined at the absolute and sole discretion of the trainer.” It occurred to me that he had absolute power and knew it. I dared to question his power. Now if he decided he didn’t like me, I was dead.

We were less than 3 minutes into the four hour programme and I was already in trouble. I explained that I was here to learn… “Oh no you’re not, sir” he said.  “You’re here to avoid three points on your licence. You’re on the wrong course.  This course isn’t for you, this is for people who will participate fully and you’re not doing that. I think you need to leave.”  I was gob-smacked and felt intimidated.

“But I’ve only been here three minutes and I’ve come to learn all I can.”  “No you’re not.” It took me all my skills and about another five minutes to convince him. (Reason was in short supply.) By that time I had been accused of lying, maligned, embarrassed, verbally abused and bullied by the finest of them. I don’t know what everyone else in the room thought, but I was shaking and appalled. I had come to learn and was being bullied. I suddenly felt for all the school children in our country who don’t quite fit the system so experience every day what I was only experiencing for a few minutes.  It was awful. I knew there was no way I was not going to submit to such disgraceful unprofessional behaviour. However, he ‘let’ me stay (how kind) nodded conspiratorially to the trainer and left the room returning only to feed the trainer with pots of take-out Costa coffee.

Just a little pic to show you where I was the week before - an relaxing empty road across the sierras of northern Spain.

Corrective education

Not the best start, and in some ways I wished I hadn’t stayed. I may not have been in a state to be able to make a rational and objective assessment of the rest of the four hours, but all I can say is it damaged me, reinforcing all the stereotypes of ‘corrective education’ and made a mockery of the idea bandied about on the website promoting it.  I later thought how ironic that the Speed Awareness Scheme is abbreviated to SAS. It felt like an SAS political re-education programme.  After an unendurable amount of time of watching people being ridiculed, put down, and forced to participate in this correction-centre charade, I looked at my watch only to experience another minor shock.  We weren’t even half way through. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Let’s get this in perspective. I was the worst speeding offender in the group, exceeding the limit by 12 miles per hour, 72 in a 60 limit. These people did not deserve to be punished in this way. Some of them had been caught doing just 33 in a 30 limit, yet the threat of being “sent back to the Court” (quoted several times) was used to full effect by the power-mad trainer. He had an agenda, and a list of ‘right’ answers that even the brightest and best of us in the room were unable to fathom.  Let me illustrate.

Guess!

What do you think the sign in the picture above means?  “It’s indicates a right hand bend ahead,” said the first person.  “NO.” postured the trainer, waddling up and down like a cartoon character. Having that option out of the way he turned to the next person in line, obviously looking forward to catching them out and displaying how absolutely clever he was. “It’s a warning sign,” she said timidly. “NO.” he smugly replied again. Louder this time. Gotcha. That was her sorted. Now on to the next innocent victim…  What on earth am I going to come up with, I thought as I realised that the first two answers might have been the ones in the Highway Code, but they obviously weren’t on his list. I worked out there were 14 more wrong answers to go before he got to me. I started to create some entertaining possibilities for when it was my turn, but clearly I’d be regarded as non-cooperative and ‘returned to the Court” if I’d dared to voice them.  And that was just the right hand bend sign. Intrigued, I started to count open and closed questions, and how many times he said ‘No’ to a trying-to-be-helpful volunteer. It went on and on.

Unintended outcomes

I could go on too, but instead I’ve put the rest in my letter of complaint. I’ll let you know the result. Such behaviour cannot be ignored by reasonable citizens. We have to protest at this kind of outrageous treatment for minor infringements of ridiculous laws.  For me it convinced me that this speeding business isn’t about safety at all, but about power and money and conformity. I paid £73 and a day of my time to be bullied by two people who, regardless of their intentions, modelled how to be dogmatic, arrogant, rude, and abusive. And how to misuse power. (Copied from their masters?  I hope not.) All in the name of Surrey Police and the Surrey Safety Camera Partnership. I was so distracted and disturbed by what I experienced during that afternoon my driving was absolutely terrible on the way home and remained that way for the next few days. I had been shaken and traumatised, I was angry at the injustice and didn’t sleep more than two hours that night. The sad thing is, with a different underlying ethos to the programme it could have been so different, with those people keen to learn. Fortunately I’ve been able to coach myself through it to a safer (literally) place, but what about the people who don’t have that skill?

The truth is, I did learn a lot last Wednesday at the Spectrum in Guildford. Most of it I only wish I hadn’t.

79 Replies to “My Drivetech Speed Awareness Course Horror”

  1. This demonstrates the psychology of power and what it can lead ordinary human beings to do when they perceive themselves as more important than their peers – or because they have been awarded a temporary authority. It reminds me of the Stanford Prison Experiment where undergraduates were separated into two groups – prisoners and gaolers – and asked to act accordingly. The ‘gaolers’ became abusive to the ‘prisoners’ and the experiment was abandoned:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

  2. Thanks for this Roy. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Stanford Experiment was a closer comparison than I want to admit to. It was abandoned because of the profound psychological damage it did to the participants.

  3. Thank you for sharing so candidly, Andrew.

    How sad that there are people who behave in that way. As you say, they taught you a whole lot: just not what you wanted or needed. Thank goodness for your abilities to filter and work through; what about those who couldn’t…

  4. Hi Andrew,

    Did you manage to get a response from the AA? I was also asked to leave the course after saying the word bollocks during the session. I just left because their attitude stank. I really felt for you mate reading this, its affected me all day. it was such a horrible experience and took me straight back to my not so happy school days.

  5. I am going on one of these feb 27th in derby will let you know how it goes got clean licence at mo 1.1 sec through red light

  6. Yes, its called bullying, Robert. I’m now a personal development coach and work a lot with people who are highly sensitive, often very intelligent, and so take on more damage than less sensitive people (and it seems to stick stronger.)
    To answer your question, no I didn’t get any response from the AA. They took my money just the same!
    I guess some of us are not ready to simply lie down and be ‘re-educated’ in this way. If no one complains, people just think it is ok. Surrey Police called and had the classic ‘customer services’ conversation. It made no difference.

  7. Ridiculous, isn’t it. I remember reading about the camera timings on an amber light being deliberately kept short so you are more likely to cross the red. Here in Sussex we don’t have ‘re-education’ programmes for anything other than exceeding the speed limit. (I don’t call it speeding, or driving too fast. That is related to the real world. These offences are related to imposed and demeaning laws.) When cameras were first approved they were set at 20mph above the limit. Now it seems to be 2 mph above the limit. I’ll be thinking of you in February, Sam! You may get a good one. There are some about.

  8. Cheers Andrew 3 years ago a large skip wagon was coming towards me the big ones with the large back door type full of scrap cars. Is door came open hit a pick up in front of me cut open the back quarter of my car (a station wagon size car) and split open the the roof of the car behind the driver was lucky to be alive . All he got was 3 points and £360 in fines lost is job but then went
    to work for another local skip firm i was without my car for 4 months

  9. My Husband and I have lived in a Small Village for the last 30 years and we go through the next village 5 times a day and one morning my Husband was going through the next village and had to accelerate 2 miles per hour over a 30 limit to get round a parked car and avoid a dangerous situation. When my Husband overtook this parked car in the village to then slow down to the 30mph he was Clocked by a White Van with a Detector Sticking Out. My Husband did not know about this SAID SPEEDING until many days later.
    My husband is 53 and has driven since he was 18. He / We drive 30,000 per year in Uk and in Europe and He / We have never had a Parking Fine or Speeding Fine.EVER!!!
    Is he a Speeding Villan??? Why don’t the Police Fine all the Illegal Number plates on the Road????Easy Money I Say and a Fair Cop!!!!!!!!!!
    My Husband read the Driving Course Horror Story above and has been dreading his Course which he attended Today 4th Jan 2014 for 4 hours at a cost of £90.
    Are these Couses Legal and do the AA have the authority to run them and Charge?
    Anyone Know The Legal Answer? Surely Police Should Run Them?
    To me the Driving Regulations as with all other money making systems in this ( GOING TO THE DOG’S ENGLAND) are designed to CHEAT THE PUBLIC OUT OF THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY. Soon we will be charged for Breathing.!Well we get Charged For Dying!!
    We are Sick to death of Failing Public Services, Failing Customer Care, Failing English Values. Observing the Drastic decline of this said ENGLAND leads to Dirty Underhand Tactics with an emphasis on Getting Money By Any Means Possible and this is Across The Board. We are Fed Up Of Being Ripped Off and Paying for the Miss Management of this Country which every hard working member of the Public has to Pay The Price For.
    Failing Public Services will lead to Total Meltdown and then what .I openly witness the decline in Public Spirt, with a so what attitude and who can we Blame THIS EVIL GOVERNMENT WHO HAS KILLED THE HOPE, EXPECTATIONS AND FUTURE OF ALL IT’S CITIZENS .
    My Husband and I have no failth in this Country or those who Lead it or Most Regally Sponge of this ONCE GREAT ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. It was the Right Hand Bend warning sign in the illustration, Debbie. However HE wanted us to guess his ‘right answer’: that it showed that there had been an incident there at some time in the past. (From last week to … well, a century ago.) It may have been a drunk driver on a performance motorcycle, or a farmer on a horse and cart, of course, but no matter. Any other answer was ‘clearly wrong’ in his eyes. It looked like a right hand bend warning sign to me, but there you go! I wasn’t interested in who had the incident, or how drunk or plain stupid they were. Maybe a policeman not looking where he was going?

  11. Andrew, I had to laugh at your article about the course and it made me feel much better. I am going on one tomorrow!!!!!. Will let you know how I get on.

  12. Yes, do. Remember not to treat it too seriously. I had a police inspector tell me recently he disagreed with a lot of what they teach. Just drive safely and take it with a pinch of salt – and smile to yourself at least every hour…

  13. I know. I once had two traffic police follow me for four miles, and all they could ‘get’ me for to justify the disgraceful waste of time and money was the arrangement of the letters on my numberplate. I actually felt sorry for the officer as he knelt behind my bike with his ruler measuring them. He looked so pathetic – a sad case. His mate sat in the BMW watching. Desperately sad – two officers measuring a numberplate when children are being abused and they are paid to stop it.
    I don’t agree that we have an ‘evil government’ though. Most of them seem to be very insecure people obsessed with power and determined to make people respect them, not realising that the very respect they want is earned and is utterly worthless if given under duress.

  14. Hi Andrew, I have had virtually the same experience as you but the only difference is I was asked to LEAVE the course in record time !! did you make a complaint ?
    Janet

  15. No, I wasn’t thrown out, but I had a hard time convincing a very nasty and bullying bloke that I was there to learn. I really really wish I had left. He told me I was lying – and all in front of everyone. Lovely. Fortunately, I’m a coach and coached myself through it. The truth is I WAS there to learn, not least what a course like this was like. (I’m a very curious person and love new experiences.)

    My driving was wrecked by the course. I guess it took me about four months to get back to a decent standard of driving. One secret of good driving is NOT to concentrate on what you are doing, but to have inbuilt ‘automatic’ skills that will actually save your life in high-reaction times.

    These ‘training’ programmes, along with the police force in general, are built on false premises. One is that the police are taught to take authority and keep the public accountable, but of course it is the police that are accountable to the public. They forget they are there as servants to the public. The trainer told us he had several accidents (most police drivers have) and so I wanted to learn from the man next to me who had driven for 46 years without ANY accident. The training idea is to break you and then put you back together THEIR way, and have everyone drive the same. I personally believe that is immoral. It assumes their way is better and takes responsibility away from people.

    The thing is, I cannot think of anything worse than ending up with the mindset of a traffic policeman, whether he is a skilled driver or not. They break laws every day that you and I don’t know about, lie in court, bully each other, mentally damage sensitive people, let each other off, cover for each other and misuse their delegated power in a thousand other ways. Some are unbelievably cruel .. to each other! Psychological abuse is rampant. No thanks. The course convinced me of that. Almost every day the papers have reports of the deceit and lies they tell. Just look at their professional body, the Police Federation. What a disgrace to the nation and the Crown.

    I serve our community in lots of ways, love people and am keen to help. (I’ve been clearing roads as a volunteer in this last patch of terrible weather, as I expect you have/would.) It is important to take responsibility for our own behaviour and honour one another in a community.

    My work as a Therapeutic Coach is about taking messed up lives and sorting them out. So many of my clients have been damaged by authoritarian and legalistic parents, school authorities and, yes, the police. Bullying is unbelievably damaging, as is psychologically trapping a person. The great thing is, with today’s coaching techniques we can repair it all! (see my website http://www.powerchange.com and tell your friends!) What a joy to do it too. 😉 It takes me four of five 2-hour sessions and it is DONE. Forever. (I love it!)

    I’m sometime quoted the ‘bad apple’ thing, that one one bad apple affects the reputation of all the others. I would suggest that you ask ANY policeman if he has ever lied in court in order to get a conviction. Yes, there are some great police, dealing with horrendous injustices. I utterly honour them. Most of them don’t parade the streets in uniform or drive cars. They are infiltrating paedophile rings, etc, and keeping teenagers safe online.

  16. Yes I did. I wrote a letter to the Chief Constable of Surrey, the Surrey ‘safety’ Partnership, The Independent Police Complaints Commission and the AA who run the course (what a joke!) I received a smooth-it-over phone call from a Surrey Police PR man, and another non-committal ‘standard’ letter from one of the others (the IPCC if I remember.) If you just write to one of those people it will end up unanswered and in a bin.

    Stupidity is everywhere – I’ve recently been fined £25 in Bognor Regis for displaying the wrong COLOUR free parking disc on the dash of my car!! No, really! (In a virtually empty car park. There’s a message there somewhere!) Eventually it becomes a joke.

    Of course I won’t choose to shop in Bognor Regis ever again. They don’t want me there, so I’ll follow everyone else and shop online, or in another local town. I got two pages of explanation about how much the discs cost to print and cost £1.00 in the local shops and can then be used for ever! Then they wonder why footfall in the High Street in Bognor is falling away. (£1.00! I’ve spent £1000s there over the years.) Sad, isn’t it. The nice thing is Horsham, and Chichester are lovely places to shop, and are just as close.

    Again, it is Public Servants setting themselves up as Public Masters. No thought for the shopkeepers in their town. Just fine-money. The poverty on the streets of Bognor Regis is being caused by the poverty in the minds of its leaders. (I paid the fine with a sense of, well, pity actually. Grief even. I couldn’t care less about the £25.)

  17. Robert Grantham, I hope you dont mind me asking but did you get a refund of your fees from AA Drivetech ? I have been told that I will now have the 3 point on my license and they will not refund the course charge – good eh ?!?!

  18. From Andrew: Janet, I think it depends on whether you break their rules or not. You probably will not get the three points if you make a strong care for wanting to stay and them telling you to leave. You agree to ‘fully cooperate’. Whether that means you taking your clothes off or something when they ask you to isn’t clear. Other people have not had their point deducted or been sent back to court. Write a formal letter of complaint to them as I’ve said elsewhere. Remember its about power, not education. Others have not had the three points after attending and leaving. (I think it is a threat.)

  19. I attended one recently (first sunny Saturday of 2014!!!) and there were several people there who were clearly not ‘participating’ and were very inclined to be ‘grinding their axes’ about the system, one comment was ‘if you do lots of miles you will get caught speeding, it’s the law of averages’ – and that was at the beginning of the day, just after one chap stating ‘this is my third course, it doesn’t work’. I felt sorry for the trainer and had to make a point about the interruptions as they were intolerable. Fortunately another couple of participants (particularly ‘E’) were supportive of the trainer and helped keep things on track so that we could finish on time, we were close to having the whole group fail as we wouldn’t have got through the session as there were so many disruptions and challenges on the statistics etc.

    To be honest, I got caught speeding, I was there to avoid the points and to avoid getting caught again. Hands up, I was breaking the law, I had to eat humble pie, pay the money and have a training session on the ‘bleeping’ obvious, but I can’t complain. If you turn up with the attitude of ‘well I was only speeding a bit’ then surely you shouldn’t be there and should have contested the ticket in the first place and had a day in court to argue about the system and why no ticket should have been issued in the first place. Turning up to ‘avoid the points’ only is the wrong attitude and too right, you should have been chucked out, however perhaps your trainer could have been more patient and explained the position. Our trainer was very patient and only issued a ‘you’ll fail’ warning to three people who in my opinion, should have been kicked out.

    Sorry folks, if you speed, then you are breaking the law and should take your licks if you get caught. If you don’t like the system, don’t accept responsibility in the first place by agreeing to go on a course and take yourself to the magistrates and convince them to change the system. Good luck with that one.

  20. Dominic, I’m glad you had a good experience. I am interested to know how someone got their THIRD course. I thought you were only allowed one.

    There are one or two things here worth noting. I suspect you’ve never had an accident, or nothing where speed was a factor? (Only something like 4% of accidents are related to excessive speed.) So if that is the case, you really don’t need to attend a course – or be booked. You’re not a risk.
    Secondly, you mentioned eating humble pie. That is indeed the intention of the course, and that is about power and authority, not danger or driving. It is about keeping you in submission, making you conform. You did.
    Thirdly, the course leaders threatened to fail the whole group because THEY couldn’t handle the opposition in the room through convincing argument. The statistics being used to punish people were being questioned, and those defending them were losing. In court that would have meant ‘case dismissed’. In the Drivetech classroom that means ‘punish everyone’. That is about power too isn’t it, so that those who submit like good little children are incited to punish those who do not. That is a subtle form of bullying, and goes on in classrooms across the world. It is psychologically damaging and destroys trust. Remember, women would not have the vote unless courageous people stood up to those who made the laws for their own ends – to maintain and increase their power. Ask women under Sharia Law what they think of boys being educated and girls being taught ‘their place’.
    I agree that ‘point avoidance’ is the norm as a motive for attendance. The system is SET UP by the authorities on that basis, so to regard it as not good a good motive is questionable, isn’t it?

    So what did you actually learn that you didn’t know already?

  21. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for the response – in terms of attending more than once I believe that there is a time limit (possibly three years) after which one would be eligible to attend again. It kind of makes sense as a reminder, however one chap had 9 points and was counting his blessings that the time limit had expired in order for him to avoid the ban and do the course instead. I suspect his habitual contravention of the law will result in him being licence free at some point.

    I have been fortunate to have only been in a few accidents, rear ended mostly (I do live in Milton Keynes, city of roundabouts!) and speed is always a factor – one or more vehicles moving, one of which excessively as they didn’t manage to stop in time….

    As for power and conformity, then yes, I would agree that is the intention of the course. Equally, it is the intention of the entire legislative process. Laws are meant to be complied with, if not, there are sanctions. The legal process recognises contrition as clearly shown in the parole process as well as the sentencing guidelines, where a lesser sentence is available to those that confess than those who maintain innocence but are found guilty.

    As for the statistics being challenged, I would agree, there is always scope for statistics or evidence to be challenged, however by attending the course there are several things that must have happened –
    1 – the offender would have been caught contravening the speed limit
    2 – the offender would have admitted (rather crucial that one) the offence
    3 – the offender had opted to attend a session

    If I thought the statistics or evidence was incorrect, then challenging the trainer is not going to change that. If I didn’t agree with the course aims and objectives then I shouldn’t have selected it as an alternative to prosecution. If I was intent on trying to make the session ‘difficult’ for the trainer (one gobby woman stated that she had been on the Department of Healths website to get some statistics) then again, I am not complying with the intention of the course nor my declaration to participate as it was intended.

    I’ll happily concede that the figures may have been wrong, that there are alternate viewpoints on the role of speed in those statistics or any road collision, that some people think that because they have a fast car / superior driver or observation skills / better roads that the speed limits in a particular location are nonsense. I don’t have strong opinions on those matters and even less interest – I personally am happy to defer to the town planners and road safety experts. If I happen to think that a mistake has been made, then I ‘should’ write in and complain, attend open and public planning meetings and voice my opinion, but to be honest, I can’t be bothered as I know these people have more knowledge than me in the matter. Same as I trust my plumber to not put the cold water pipe into the hot water tap and I wouldn’t value his opinions on my particular profession any higher than my own.

    If I think a law is incorrect or silly, it doesn’t give me the right to break it. If so, then I’d have taken my day in court and argued with the court. You don’t turn the world vegetarian by berating the staff in McDonalds.

    As for what I learnt – nothing new. I was reminded of some of the ‘bleeping obvious’, but after 15 years of driving there was no harm in that. Equally, I’ve not been prone to speeding and I don’t speed normally. However the course was a good wake up call for me to re-assess my driving (including how I ended up speeding that day) and to stop being complacent. After all, my life may be value-less, but my actions in a car can have an impact on other people.

  22. Hi, Dom – well argued and clear.

    I personally attended the course to see what it was like – I love (most!) new experiences. I objected being told out loud and in front of the group that I was a liar by someone who clearly new far better what my thoughts are than I did – an ex copper I think.

    And you didn’t learn anything new. And you trust the local council planning department – and the lovely people in Brussels he has to obey! And you can’t be bothered to protest. And you don’t mind if the law makers misquote statistics and ignore scientific evidence when they are making money from it.

    The trouble is, I take the opposite view! Ah well!

    On a more serious note, thanks for taking the time and giving thought to contributing to the blog. I really appreciate that.

    I did wonder if you were a police officer, but of course if you had been you’d have been let off anyway. 😉

  23. Hi Andrew,

    I’m not a copper and as much as I sound a bit pompous about the whole thing, I was a naughty boy and I got caught – still, I got a clean license!!!! 😉

  24. I attended a Speed Awareness course today in Sunbury. My experience was very different to yours. being shy, I had fears of being called out in front of the 25 strong group to participate however, I was quickly put at ease. I had a great time. I found the whole experience enjoyable and informative. The 2 course tutors were funny, interesting and engaging. All in a non patronising way. Some of the other attendees were very witty. We laughed a lot!!! If you get the chanced to attend, do so.

  25. Yes, it was, Idris. Dreadful. Bullying is an integral part of policing it seems, and these guys were ex-cops and brilliant at it. I don’t know how such people sleep at night. From a professional point of view it is evident to me that many of them don’t. I’ve checked your website out. Well done for all the work you’ve put in. Again, it is so sad that accepting the truth is such a big no-no for people.

  26. If you don’t break the law…………………………….. speed limits apply to all drivers at all times. There can’t be exceptions because it’s sunny, quiet etc.
    I went on a course last year, but I went with a positive attitude and an open mind. Many of those on the course were of the opinion they didn’t need to be there, because they knew it all and were just unlucky.
    Can’t comment on your course because it’s only your version, but the guys who did the one I was on did manage to change a few opinions.

  27. If posted speed limits in Britain were set for maximum safety, which most are not, they would be set at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions. On most main roads, this would tend to be 10 mph higher than currently posted. Posted at the 85th percentile speeds safety would improve and the for-profit scams of speed traps and the expensive for-profit Speed Awareness Scam courses run by the Partnerships would end.

    James C. Walker, Life Member – National Motorists Association (USA), a similar organization to the Alliance of British Drivers. Note that I am a 1+ million mile driver with driving experience in 24 world countries.

  28. The trouble with that is that you advocate conforming on the course but you didn’t conform on the road. And the time you got caught will have been only one of hundreds of times that you had exceeded the limit….and not the worst of those times either.

    And unless you are one in a million, you still speed now.

  29. “…it showed that there had been an incident there at some time in the past”

    If he said that, he is this: wrong.

  30. “2 – the offender would have admitted (rather crucial that one) the offence”

    No. The alleged offender will have admitted being the driver of the vehicle. It is not necessary to admit an offence to attend the course, only to admit that you are indeed the subject of the allegation.

  31. I’ve got one tomorrow, in Guildford! I can only hope it’s not run by the same people you’re referring to. I’ll post back here after..

  32. You know what, it wasn’t all that bad. The 4 hours flew past pretty quick. Once you get over the whole “I shouldn’t be here” mentality, then you can learn quite a bit. The instructors didn’t seem to target anyone specifically, and everyone participated, so yeah I wouldn’t worry about going if you’ve got one coming up.

  33. Well, I mostly learnt how much other drivers didn’t seem to know! The highway code references, speed limits, stuff like that seemed obvious, and some of the things mentioned seemed like basic common sense, but others seemed surprised or interested to learn that the national speed limit was 70 and not 50, etc! Lots of other examples I can’t think of right now, but I ended up answering a lot of the theory questions on behalf of the group. The course does seem primarily based around marginal speeding in a 30, and most of the people there were caught doing just that. Of course, that is serious. Most crashes happen in a 30 zone, and most people are seriously injured there too, but I was actually caught doing 60mph, on a road that used to be a 70, but is now 50 – The limit wasn’t reduced because of crashes or being hazardous, it’s because the residents of the nearby village moaned about the noise the road made, so the council lowered the speed limit to satisfy them and keep the road noise down! If I knew or expected kids to be playing in the middle of the A24, during rush hour, then of course I would have stuck to the 50 limit. Now when I do drive 50 down there on the way to or from work, I get fed up of feeling like I’m not moving, as I’m frequently over taken by everyone else doing 60+. No cameras when they do it though.

  34. Well done. I don’t know WHAT people learn in driving schools these days. I’ve never had a formal lesson – and never caused an accident in ¾ million miles of driving, over 48 years. Had loads of ‘experience lessons’ though – riding my motorbike in 30 countries, on ice and leaves and over unkempt manhole covers, staying patient with inexperienced drivers, bored drivers, blind drivers, past-their-sell-by-date drivers, (and small-minded jobsworth traffic police?) – and am determined to keep learning from those experiences. Doing so keeps my driving skills sharp, and everyone (including me) safer.

    I think I know the road. Have you seen how far back the residents actually live? I suspect it was just one or two influential (ie, councillor) people, not the whole ‘village’, who live along there and has decided that his/her comfort is more important than others’ convenience. He has made 1000s of motorists lives that much more frustrated every morning and evening, and ensured that 1000s of mums and dads see their children for less time each day. Booking you is a much more profitable option than laying down ‘hush tarmac’ – or considering that faster cars mean noise for less TIME each day. Maybe sending you on a retraining day goes some way to easing their consciences. Sending HIM (or her) on a Selfishness Control Day might have been the better option.

  35. I attended one of these courses last year (after doing 36 in a 30 zone by the Met Police as I recall) and agree entirely with your article on the manner and attitude of the AA instructors.

    The Napoleon/”instructor” on our course was also one of those who claim the Right Hand Bend sign (or something similar) meant that there had been a serious accident there and wouldn’t accept any other answer.

    He also told us a number of “facts” that I challenged him on during the course including:

    “Undertaking is an offence”.
    No it isn’t, I said.. There is no specific offence of “undertaking”, however it could be classed as driving without due care and attention.

    “If you passed your test after 1997 you can’t drive a Transit van ithout taking an additional (C1) test”.
    He even went round the group telling everyone if they could or couldn’t drive a van on their licence, including scaring one bloke who turned up in his Transit but didn’t have C1 on his licence. The intructor refused to listen when I told him that Transit-sized vans were below the C1 weight limit and were fine to drive with just the standard test. He wouldn’t even let me turn my phone on to google the regulations to show him he was wrong!

    “You can’t tow another vehicle using a tow rope anymore. It MUST be a rigid bar now”.
    This one I thought sounded fishy but only verified after the course so couldn’t pull him up on it at the time. Regulations are that you must use a rigid bar if you are a professional tower. Joe Public can still use tow rope. Halfords even sell them so they cant be that illegal!

    My father used to be a traffic policeman and couldn’t believe it when I told him about the rubbish that the AADrivetech instructors were “teaching” on the courses. His view is that the courses COULD be educational and informative if done correctly…but they aren’t. At least not all of the time. He sees them as a missed opportunity and, having now attended one, I have to agree with him. It saved me the 3 points, but it tought me nothing other than the fact that AADrivetech clearly doesn’t monitor what their instructors do or say on these courses.

  36. I agree that most people on my course had no idea of the various speed limits.

    In fact, most of the guesses (and I use that word intentionally given what people around me were saying) were wildly UNDER stating the speed limits, implying that the other attendees were, in ther own minds, not going a few miles over the limit, but 10-30 miles over what they BELIEVED the speed limits were!

    The person next to me even said that the dual carriageway speed limit “must be 60 as motorways are 70 and surely they can’t both be the same…”

    And yet the course instructors glossed straight over this obvious (and dangerous) knowledge gap & focussed instead on more “observational” things like missing tree branches being an indicator that the road is commonly used by lorries or buses! If people don’t know basics like the speed of the raod, they won’t care about low hanging branches!

  37. Thanks Tim. It is so sad that people who should know better are still intimidating those in their control. We have ‘Community Speed Awareness’ people now (or are they called “Neighbourhood Safety Camera Groups’?) doing the usual damage to our society here. They are a disgrace, and there will be so many ‘unintended consequences’. Maybe time for another blog!

  38. My observation is this: at the course I attended an asian gentleman admitted never having read the highway code and as he was not the only one attending I suspect more could have admitted the same. Makes a mockery of it to me////////11

  39. I did the course in February 2014 near Portsmouth. The two retired coppers were brilliant. Great attitude, no condemnation – just helpful and positive, reflected in the appreciation and respect shown by the “class”. It turned out to be an enjoyable learning experience. I learnt a few things and equally important, I was reminded of a few things that I should have remembered. Clearly a difference in style and my guys win hands down!

  40. Not if you are already going slow enough. Don’t you just love those folk who drive at 25 in a 30 zone and then brake for every slightest thing.

  41. Thanks, Nicholas. I have all sorts of thoughts about road signs. “Slow Down” when you may be doing 3 mph? How silly. “Maximum speed 30”. Really? So what will happen if you do 32mph?
    A much less patronising and sensitive sign might be just “Slow”. It describes a wise relative speed and is a sensible warning not a blind dictatorial order.
    Another silly sign is “Speed Kills.” The question is “What speed specifically?” In fact speed doesn’t kill. Stopping very quickly does (as in hitting a barrier in an accident). There are 1000s of people who have crashed at speed (100mph-plus) and did not die because they rolled on up the road, bounced off a tyre wall in a race, etc. Planes fly at 600mph and no one dies in them! I somersaulted over a car in a crash and walked away. (The police asked me what speed I was doing when I hit the car. Of course I said, when I hit the car I was doing zero! Well, the bike was. I was continuing over the car to land on the tarmac.
    How about the sign “Cameras”. Most of the time it is a manipulative lie. No camera – and certainly not more than one.
    Still we are surrounded by ‘jobs-worths” who turn a blind eye to the 113,000 people who die from avoidable medical ‘accidents’ in british hospitals each year.

  42. Hi, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’m just about to go on a course in Penge…very worried now. Do you mind me asking what happened after you were asked to leave? Thanks, Michela

  43. Hi, Michela. The first thing to say is no one needs to be worried about such things. It’s only a speed awareness course and really isn’t that important. (If it had been a course on looking for safe space on a road, that would be great!)
    My experience was unusual it seems, and these days they use women trainers too. Lots of people enjoy the course, and you’ll learn a lot – though not everything they tell you is true. Speed doesn’t kill, for instance, and there are so many variables in driving that speed is only a key factor in about 1.7% of car accidents. So go and enjoy it. Keep your brain in gear. These people are trained to convince you to drive the way they want. (It may or may not be ‘safer’. The man next to me on the course had not had an accident for 46 years, and the trainer had had two in the last ten years – so who is the safer driver?!) Ask them how many accidents they’ve had!
    Remember you are there to make someone somewhere some money. It is like the Pope selling indulgences – you get off the points if you pay for the course and needless to say, you’ll have to fill in the (electronic) form so they can go back and say how successful they’ve been or they don’t get paid.

    Regarding leaving. I had to sign to say I would ‘fully cooperate’ with the trainer, without being told what the trainer will ask people to do. I think that is unethical to start with. He asked us to put the speed we were driving onto a whiteboard, but the online conditions THEY must abide by is not to ask me to incriminate myself. Needless to say, I refused. That was then the second trainer came at me big time. He didn’t ACTUALLY ask me to leave, but accused me of all sorts of things re not cooperating and said he would ‘send me back to the court.’

    I was dressed in motorbike gear, and looked happy – ie, not repentant. That was my error. These people are not really very bright and are pretty shallow. (Who else would do a job like that for money?)

    It’s a game. Just play the game and you’ll be fine – AND have a great Christmas!

  44. Clearly no issues then! If your husband had to accelerate above the speed limit to pass a parked car “safely” it rather suggests he shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. What if a kid had opened the door and jumped out? Part of the course covers hazard perception. I’d suggest he pay attention! If you have no faith in this country we are fortunately part of the EU and you have 26 others which you may move to at will. Almost all of them have speed cameras and run speed awareness courses though, as they have been one of the factors which have helped to reduce roads deaths in this country from around 6000 a year in the 60s to around 1700. Is saving 4000 lives a year too high a price to pay for your husband’s inability to judge a passing situation?

  45. Simon… come on. This sounds a bit angry, doesn’t it? Two mph, she said. Two!
    And are you honestly wanting to play the extremes of the game of ‘What If.” Sadly your comment reminds me of a insight I heard recently: “What you say about me says more about you.” Do you really mean everyone who is cross about being caught on a speed camera – or any other injustice in the UK – should move to a different country? And are we really fortunate to be part of the EU? Perhaps in your world everyone will walk to work to reduce all the risks of a potential car accident. Or better still, not leave home in case they cause one. Let’s have all cars driving at zero mph – they won’t injure anyone then.

  46. How far did deaths on the roads reduce from that 6000 figure before speed cameras were introduced? If they reduced without them, and they certainly did, how much further would they have gone down if cameras had never been introduced? It could be exactly the same amount….or perhaps even more.

  47. Thank you Andrew, this has been very helpful. My course is on Monday and because my children are still on Holiday I tried to reschedule the course. When I called yesterday, the smug customer care lady said it would cost another 47 pounds to change the date because I hadn’t bought the 3.50 change your booking insurance. I was livid! I don’t even believe I was speeding in the first place. They say I was going 35 in a 30 zone, I was with both boys on our way to a playdate at the garden centre. I’m a careful driver. Is AA Drivetech a scam?? Feeling so annoyed!!

  48. Hi, Cori.
    I only wish I HADN’T gone on mine. My driving was terrible afterwards, and yes, it does feel like a scam – especially when Chief Constables are on the boards of these ‘training’ companies. However, getting livid at injustice won’t help your driving skills, will it. I’m a coach (see Powerchange.com!) and I decided to ‘reframe’ it – in other words give it a different meaning. For instance you can pretend that the money you’ve paid is helping the police stop sex-slavery, or enabling a young police officer to go on a course to learn about integrity and compassion, or stop one more person from shoplifting. We all know it’s just another tax really – about the same as you’ll pay VAT on a good television. It certainly helps the unemployment figures! The lighter you treat it (just play the game!) the less internal psychological damage it will do you … damage which is real.
    It’s worth remembering that the police have very few areas where they can be SEEN to wield their power. Comparatively innocent road users are forcibly reminded that they are underlings and mustn’t step out of line. Policing is about power, not justice. (The Courts are about justice, and generally do much better, but then magistrates aren’t doing it for the money.) Just remember never to buy anything ‘AA’ – car insurance, offers, breakdown insurance, books… and stand up for yourself against ANY sort of bullying, wherever you find it. As it happens, police forces are loaded with such people, from the top down. They cover each other’s back with what is known as ‘professional etiquette’. It means “I’ll ignore your law-breaking and expect you to ignore mine.” A police inspector told me that. He said he couldn’t wait to get out of the Met – it had damaged him so much.

  49. Hear, hear, Nicholas! People don’t understand the difference between causal and associative statistical connections. Causal means that B is DIRECTLY CAUSED by A. Associative means that the two figures go up and down together but may not be connected at all. Eg, People with smaller feet are less good at reading. So people with bigger feet are better at reading. Well of course, little children have very small feet and can’t read at all! The figures are associated, but poor reading ability isn’t CAUSED by having small feet. Here we find that road deaths were less over a period of time, but a 1000 different things may have caused that reduction (Fatalities were dropping BEFORE the first camera was introduced.) Crime figures in the States dropped significantly when homosexuality was legalised. It had nothing to do with policing.

  50. Its funny how many people have similar experiences on these course, we had a right pair of jokers who thought it clever ridicule somebody for giving the correct answers only to show a slide minutes later with that answer…examples what is the speed limit on this road, my answer depends on what your driving…much ridicule then shows the slide with HGV, car, van all with different limits. Another being what distance do you keep from car in front, my answer 2 second gap …eeerrr what, only a fool breaks the 2 second rule.. I got through it but what a joke

  51. I’m assuming by your email address, Steve, that your interest and skill in driving goes beyond a few mph of error. Like the police, there are many drivers on the road that take much more interest in driving that they are given credit for. Such people are not the sort to be patronised – insulted. (You and I are two of them!) I was told that by stopping me the officer had saved me from killing myself in the next two miles! How ridiculous. Here in Sussex it is great to see less police on the roads due to the cuts – and reallocation due to the increase in online/paedophile/exploitation crime where youngsters are being so abused. I’ve even found myself more tolerant to the occasional drink-driver making his way home from the pub at 20mph a mile down a deserted road in the middle of the countryside. No, he shouldn’t be doing it, but it isn’t the end of the world and the quality of his life would be shattered if he was banned. The worst accident creators round here are old people, who can be lethal! So many should not be on the road – much worse than D-D. But I’d only stop the very worst – socially they need the independence. However I WOULD stop them driving – for their own sake. Many bumps and bangs happen and they will always pay the bill themselves. The insurance companies never find out, or they would be refused.

  52. Andrew

    So i attended one of these last night, Sutton Surrey. 2 (what appeared to be lovely) trainers. 3min into the course they start throwing death statistics at us and everything is about how speed kills. i initially made an innocent comment that the population to death ratio was extremely low and then female instructor and i started talking about this. The male instructor (Jack was his name) felt he needed in on the conversation and started having a go at me for asking questions. i immediately went into defensive mode, having been a policeman in my home country for almost 9 years and having seen all types of accidents i knew 1st hand the devastation that can be caused. I also know that that speeding is not the sole factor in all road accidents. While he was being very arrogant and aggressive towards me i managed to ask him simply this, if i am to be responsible and accountable for myself and my vehicle, where is the accountability for the cyclists and pedestrians whom share the public road with me? he did not like that at all, his response to me was “do you want your license?” I was like WTF?? I’m here on a 1st offence speeding on a road i misjudged as being 50 rather then the 40 sign that was obscured and didn’t feel like arguing in court and figured the course could be beneficial to me. He went on to judge me, like who does he think he is. The entire course was based on scare tactics saying if you speed you going to kill someone. i have had 3 accidents in my driving career, all as a police officer during the execution of my duties. i dont generally speed, another thing the kinda got wrong was the impact speed, they assuming everyone reacts the same and that we all hit the brakes at exactly the same time and so forth and thus saying that @ 32mph your impact speed is 18mph. like how do they justify that?? what if i dont have time to hit the brakes? what if i reacted sooner and hit the brakes 2m earlier? both would have different results @32mph. Smells like a total farce and money making scheme to me. This doesn’t teach speed awareness!

    Could you post the link to where you files your complaint, i intend to complain about the instructor who basically threatened me with the loss of my license for asking a few simple questions. I felt belittled and intimidated by his behaviour to me. The only thing that kept me there was that others on the course actually told him his wrong and that i have made valid points and asked valid questions.

    Shaun

  53. Hi, Shaun.

    Not good, eh. I wrote four letters, all the same, copied to each other and obviously so, so that any single letter could not be ignored. I wrote to the Surrey Safety Partnership who operate the vans, Surrey Police who prosecute, the AA Drivetech (I think it is called) who run the classes, and the Police Complaints Authority. It now has another name. Today I would include the Police Commissioner for the area.
    And thank you for writing. Unless people complain nothing changes.

    One factor that has come up in the last few weeks is a report that anger and other strong emotional responses CAUSE accidents. It took me MONTHS to get over the course I attended, and my driving was terrible. Every day I would get in the car or on my motorbike and think about it. And shake. The sight of a policeman in uniform (particularly a traffic cop – I listened to a statement from one in Court that set out to deliberately deceive the Court – and mobile speed traps) I’m sure still raises my blood pressure, as my brain now sees a police officer as ‘enemy’. The fact is, I am not confident that any police officer can be trusted. They don’t even trust each other.

    The police are not concerned about saving lives on roads – or they would stop all the elderly dodderers (bless ’em!) who can’t drive safely. The police are out for a quick way to impose their presence and show their power, as you found in the course. And it works, so there is no motivation for them to be sensible. What they haven’t yet understood is that they are alienating the public on a daily basis, and at some stage it will backfire. People will say ‘No.’

    It would be interesting if no one accepted speed tickets but all insisted on going to Court. The system would instantly break down. It is only that we go along with it that it works.

    We’ve noticed in Sussex that there seem to be less and less traffic police on our roads (They can’t afford them!) – and no increase in accidents!? Well, there’s a surprise. I know many of them are now unmarked, but it is rare to see someone stopped by a blue light. And we all do just fine without them, because we want to get home safely at night, and want other drivers to too. And we drive cars that are MOTed and very safe, and not Morris Minors, the cars being made when the ‘safe’ speeds were decided. If everyone drove keeping to official stopping distances, the roads would be at a standstill.

  54. Hi Andrew, I attended a driver awareness course about 2 years ago it made me aware of just how out of touch our Highway Code has become.
    It is a imperial/metric ‘halfway house’ mess, just few examples-

    Road speeds in imperial and stopping distances in metres or car lengths.
    Lower case ‘m’ means miles unless you drive under a bridge when m now becomes metres!
    The vehicle weight limit signs usually 7.5 metric tonnes depicted with T or t . (Upper case T means Tesla magnetic flux density and not metric tonnes!).
    Width restriction road signs showing 3 or more units of measurement when just metres would do.

    Our official Highway Code is trying to run 2 competing systems together, and the department for transport will not go with 99% of the entire world and go fully metric.

    See the unofficial metric Highway Code (Internet), and also the Dr metric website.

    I have to add that I use km/h and I failed to convert back to medieval measurements (mph) quickly enough and ended up on the speed awareness course!

  55. OK – I did the course today in rainy Huddersfield and was so bored at the end of 4 hours that next time I’ll honestly take the 3 points. Speedcamera doing 35 in a 30 area – caught bang to rights. A fair cop and I’m not arguing.

    The 2 guys running the course were ok – did the ‘good cop / bad cop’ thing, advanced drivers. I pity them doing that for a job, it must be awful for them! I hated being there for 4 hours, imagine doing it day in / day out.

    The chaps out front didnt go for the intimidation / power trip thing which you describe. And ALSO nobody in the audience tried to be a smartarse. Perhaps now somebody wont get run over, who knows – if so then its worth it. The bottom line is there was no classroom drama and we just got on with it.

    You however are making a meal of it, dedicating hours of blogtime, and quite frankly if the side effect of the course was to ‘put you off driving for 4 months’ then you seem unstable and perhaps should never be on the road!

    You say “One secret of good driving is NOT to concentrate on what you are doing, but to have inbuilt ‘automatic’ skills that will actually save your life in high-reaction times”. SERIOUSLY you drive in a zen trance!? surely GOOD driving MUST BE TO concentrate on your driving so you spot problems before they happen!

  56. Thanks for your comment.

    No, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes here and there, and is interesting to see various reactions – including yours of course!

    Once a driver has enough experience his auto-response system will notice the problems developing about seven times faster than if he is looking for them consciously. When a person is concentrating he moves from peripheral vision which is wide and very comprehensive to focussed vision which narrows the field – a bit like looking through binoculars when you have to move them around to see everything. Definitely a life-saving trance-state, but nothing to do with Zen!

    I guess I ought to say I’m glad you had a boring (hateful?) four hours, but I don’t. Having run all sorts of training courses myself – and designed them for well known international companies – I know they don’t need to be like that.

    For me the issue isn’t whether anyone may or may not get run over, etc. I’d like to ask what better alternatives are possible with the same resources. Maybe hundreds of people not run over – or whatever? Bearing in mind no one on the course had run anyone over in the first place and were only marginally over the limit (or they wouldn’t be eligible for the course anyway) it is more than tempting to assume it is merely a money spinner.

    Next time you’re caught you’ll have to take the points anyway – but at least you forked out about twice the money due in a normal fixed penalty fine so AA Drivetech could keep two more people off the unemployment stats. So on behalf of all of the rest of us taxpayers, thanks for contributing a little more 🙂

  57. Hi Andrew – Just received my Notice to Prosecute – A bit of a shock as I’m a Road Rule Conformist at heart.
    Snapped doing 39 (downhill) and braking. Can’t really argue with the ‘calibrated’ equipment. Thanks for the blog – I’m actually looking forward to the course – the entertainment value alone will be worth the fee. At least I’m prepared to play the game now – whatever they throw at me! 🙂

  58. Well done, Kay – life is always worth a bit of adventure, even if you have to pay for it. I’ve just done my second course, in Dorset this time. I think I’ll become a Driving Awareness Course Secret Shopper.
    It was a joke, highlighted by an interesting comment from ‘Neil’ the oh-so-sad ‘trainer’ when I suggested that a cause of speeding may be upbringing. “That’s psychology, we don’t do that here.” Along with the other trainer Eddie’s (there is always two so they can support each other and only have to work half the time) personal struggle.
    The question was what distractions are there on the road. Well, I pointed out that the biggest distraction I have is speed cameras both static and mobile. They always make me jump and slap my brakes on. He couldn’t bring himself to put it up on the flipchart! All these other ones … but I insisted, reminding him twice that it was a legitimate (he probably understood the word in a different context!) answer and he must put it up, and eventually he put ‘Speed camira’ on the chart, spelling it with an ‘i’!
    Two driving instructors working for the police. I couldn’t help think they needed the money because no one wanted them to teach them driving!
    I suggest you take your Kindle. Time passes VERY slowly on these things. I was bored sick, but at least I knew what to expect this time. More snippets on my next blog, so watch this space! (And remember, It’s not you they care about, it’s your money that keeps them in a job. A sort of social security payment. No one is at risk by you doing 39mph.)

  59. Andrew – I was worried about my AADriveTech Speed Awareness course so searched the web for experiences. Yours was the first I came across and it made me white with fear. My wife then read it and wanted me to cancel and take the points instead.
    But… I did the course today and to be honest it was the polar opposite experience to yours. It was held in High Wycombe with most of the attendees from Amersham and the Chalfonts. So a similar demographic of middle age mums and business men to the Guildford set in my opinion.
    The tutors were professional but made it (dare I say) entertaining due to the audience participation.
    I was immediately worried at the start when I cracked a joke (come here often… ) to the man next to me. But when it kicked off the tutors broke the ice with similar rhetoric but delivered “tongue in cheek” around the “you are here to avoid points etc…”
    The interactive approach plus providing a genuine forum to ask obvious/stupid questions meant it was not intimidating nor was there bullying from anyone.
    A couple of my “partners in crime” did not engage and they sat in stony silence which did not antagonise the group at all. It was only when one of them admitted he had driving in UK for 14years without a license and it was only when he got a license did he get caught speeding and ended up on the course. This is when I realised this was not all for fun but there were some dangerously stupid people in attendance too.
    However, I am sorry you had a bad experience, I am also sorry there was not more info on the web to provide a balanced view, but I did enjoy my course and learnt a few new things.

  60. Great, Rich. I’ve just done another one (48mph in a temporary 40 limit on a dual carriageway at 5am!) and it was better. However there were several things that concerned me. “What distractions are their on the road?” When I said speed cameras – a major one for me – he refused to put it on the board with the others! I was very concerned about women being called “eye candy” too. As I was with the threat that if we didn’t come up with something we had learned on the course he had the power to fail us.

  61. Got flashed by a Camara Van 47mph in a 40mph.Down a hill no pedestrians or cars in front in site.I have been invited to go on a course and hundred pounds down the drain.I will listen and take it all in.I am there to learn so they say.If there is any abuse or bullying I will speak up.I am not on the course to be belittled by any jobsworth so we will see.

  62. all a MASSIVE Con!!! …….. these laws and other associated detritus have no base in reality imho.
    1) The Highway Code > Has NO legal authority at all (its an erroneous guide pamphlet) , written by people who ASSUME to know all the answers yet struggle with basic Physics.
    2) The Police/Courts/CPS ARE!! to a large extent ‘wilfully incorrect’. Local Superintendent videoed driving a ‘fully marked up Police R’Rover’ whilst on his Mobile, driving without due care, launched on to a roundabout and then refused to stop……..drove through the security barrier at the local Police Station and vanished (no one could identify him). I videoed two plain clothed in a fully marked Vx Corsa, the wrong way up a back street adjacent to Waterloo Station (full Blues n Two’s) turned right into Lower Marsh, stopped dead across a corner (parked on the Yellows) strolled across the road into Greggs Bakery!! walked out with an order of Cakes and returned from whence they came. Duly reported via Email with Video evidence attached and………..unable to Identify (they didn’t fill out the vehicle logbook).
    3) I was prosecuted by Gatso Camera 72mph in a 40 limit on a Dual Carriage way that was well known to me on my route to work. The first I heard of it was when two PC’s arrived at my door on a Sunday Morning. I’d been found Guilty at Magistrates in absentia, so off we go to Crown Court………….and, on the THIRD attendance at Court the CPS turned up with the Photos (which I had insisted on at Magistrates Court/first contact). I only got access to the 10photos!!!! when I insisted (or else) on the day outside the Crown Court………..the laminated photos had been enlarged/zoomed, cropped, shaded to obscure important items etc. I proved that there were TWO other vehicles behind me ‘in the capture zone’ [not allowed by Manufacturer/Acpo guidelines] and a shed load of Metalwork/Street furniture as well [railings, lamp posts, crash barrier etc.] They tried pulling a ‘Fast One’ on me and got caught out, how may people out there just ‘pay up’ and tough luck………….that’s fraud!!!! with NO penalty.
    I have many examples like that, literally!!!!! Cheers, Ding

  63. Don’t be alarmed by some of these comments. I took the speed awareness course with AA Drivetech yesterday and it was fine. The instructors were very professional and went out of their way to make us feel relaxed and did their best to make the course useful and even entertaining. I definitely feel I’m a better a driver for having taken the course and my impression was that most of my fellow attendees felt the same way. I also think that the course has been updated since some of the experiences on this page occurred. They don’t ask you to state what speed you were caught at anymore and they ask for your feedback anonymously at the end. Personally I think all drivers should take this course at some point – and no I don’t work for the AA, Police or Government.

  64. I agree with Simo. Did my course last month and found it very useful and actually enjoyable. I learnt quite a bit – should be mandatory for everyone once they’ve had their full licence for 3 years or so. Trainers friendly and knowledgeable – not patronisning at all. If you go in with a negative know it all attitude or a beef with the police then you’re not going to appreciate the aim of the day which is to try and make us all a bit safer on the roads.
    Rob.

  65. I don’t understand! The sign is clearly a warning sign, indicating a right hand bend ahead. If the trainer is suggesting that they are only put up when there’s previously been an incident, then is he saying that there has been an incident/accident at every place that a warning sign has been installed?? If not – then what was his ‘right answer’?

  66. Exactly! The answer he wanted was that there had been an accident there. The principle is that you only put up warning signs when there has been an accident/incident. (They now say there is no such thing as an accident. It is caused by someone doing something stupid – driving too fast, car not properly serviced, etc.)

    Things are changing though. It seems the courses are becoming more friendly, though still run by, well, not the brightest lights in the pack. Eg, a comment I had from a Dorset trainer was “We don’t do psychology here mate!” Hmmm… really? My fault, I guess. I suggested one reason people drive fast is that their dad did. Wrong answer. He wanted “Because we are in a hurry.”

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