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Introducing the ‘Safe and Considerate Driving’ course

We take a closer look at how the new course was developed and why it should prove effective

IT IS a UKROEd policy to undertake a major review of all NDORS courses every three years, and NDAC was due for such a review this year. This also created an opportunity to look at our whole suite of non-speed-related courses (NDAC, WDU and D4C), and tackle a few wider issues we were aware of.

   As with all courses, everything would need to be based on the best available evidence, according to Dr Simon Christmas of the Course Development Unit (pictured right). “That evidence includes academic road safety research and wider evidence regarding effective behaviour change through educational interventions,” he told us.

   “It also includes the experience of our trainers across the country, and the insights they can give us about what does and does not work in the classroom and out on the road. As well as a survey of trainers currently delivering NDAC, WDU and D4C, we have also engaged a panel of trainers in developing materials and exercises.

   Increasingly, we’re able to draw on NDORS’ own evidence, such as data on course referrals. By the time these next courses are reviewed, we look forward to drawing on an independent evaluation.”

Name

Simon told us the ‘Safe, Considerate Driving’ title came from a long process of trying to find clever names that would please everyone. “At some point, someone suggested we just say what it is about: Safe and Considerate Driving. That’s what the course is all about, why we sometimes fall short, and what we can do about that,” he said.

   SCD is a day-long course, aimed at people who have been involved in a collision. Its companion course, the new WDU, lasts half a day, and is aimed at people who have been offered a fixed penalty notice. 

   Simon said he expected a wide range of offences on both courses – with the one common factor that it would not be about speed. 

   “Based on an analysis of the offences for which people have been referred to NDAC, WDU and D4C, the main reasons we’re expecting include offences relating to driving without due care and attention, control or consideration, including those resulting in minor collisions, and tailgating.

   “But we will also expect to see traffic light offences, crossing a solid white line, stopping, overtaking or failing to give precedence in zebra/puffin/pelican areas, stopping at school gates and contravening a no-entry sign.

   Simon and his CDU colleagues believe in the basic principle that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. “We’ve kept effective parts of the existing courses, and built the new course around them,” he explained.

Scrutinise

   “We’ve also called on our panel of trainers to scrutinise, test and improve our ideas. Finally, in May, we conducted a full pilot with 16 professionally recruited participants. Not only were we relieved that the course as a whole worked well, but we were also delighted to learn some important lessons which have improved the final offer.”

   So is it possible to identify three key general points for SCD clients to take away at the end of a course? Not really, says Simon. “That’s because the whole course is designed around the recognition that people come for different reasons, and so need to take away different points. 

   “For some people, for instance, the issues is not knowing what the rules are. Others know what the rules are but, for whatever reason, don’t feel they need to stick to them. Still others know the rules and mean to stick to them, but get pulled away from the driving task by something. And then there are people who know the rules, mean to stick to them and aren’t distracted as such: they just aren’t driving with enough care and attention, perhaps as a result of bad habits built up over the years. Each of these people will take away different things at the end of the course – and our task has been to design a course that is relevant to every one of them.”

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