Posted: March 25, 2020
In our continued quest to see our customers and followers develop their driving skill, technique and knowledge, we are heading to the public highway, to travel through part 3 in our series about car control.
It’s all about driving on public roads. And keeping safe.
The motivators behind your journey can have a profound effect on the level of risk you may experience. Statistically, it could be loaded with varying levels simply by the time of day you choose and many other often hidden factors.
What does the ribbon of tarmac all of us enjoy driving on mean to you?
Why does your answer influence your safety and car control?
The reason for your journey and the psychological interpretation for using the road at any given time, can both increase and reduce driving risk.
When do you drive at your best?
On early Sunday morning jollies in your pride and joy?
When you’re alone?
On a driving tour with club members?
Perhaps when driving to and from work? Or dropping the kids off at school?
I have developed a fascination for how we individually view the tarmac we drive on. I’m not referring to observation and scanning skills, but the actual reasons behind the drive.
It's a weekend morning.
There’s the car enthusiast, who lives for driving and weekend “drive outs” with friends who all own performance cars. Their 500 BHP Cabrio feels amazing as they pull out onto the local dual carriageway.
Like every weekend – they enjoy blasting their baby up to 90 mph. Life’s amazing! The tarmac represents freedom, excitement, a challenge, a literal endless ribbon of happiness, accessible to any individual to express personality and driving ability.
Hold on … that’s coming up quick behind - it’s a sports bike, brightly coloured leathers abound and it’s pushing 110 mph.
The thought bubble above the rider’s head reads, “I’m Valentino Rossi at Mugello on a quali lap, and I can normally hit 120 mph before I pass the next exit opposite Tesco’s!”
The cyclist enjoying the outside world and keeping fit, on the adjacent cycle path the motorbike rider has just passed, also has a thought bubble above their head …. “Boy they’re moving - I wouldn’t want to get hit by them.”
What does the bubble read over the roof of the SUV leaving the dual carriageway in the scene above, using the tarmac as a medium to transport family/friends from A to B? “Just need to get mine and my neighbours’ kids to football club, safely”?
My point? Each of the individuals in the scene above could all be the same person but on different days at different times. Many of us own bicycles, motorbikes and perhaps more than one car. We may also have children and/or grandchildren.
When with clients on a Road Advanced Driver Training course, discussion is often around the need to drive not only your own car, but the cars around us. Not in a literal sense, but with consideration for the multitude of behavioural reasoning going on, not only around us but within our own mind.
Defensive driving makes a lot more sense when you consider the need and the skills required to manage and influence the vehicles around us.
I may consider myself a good driver, but what I must not forget, is that those driving around me are perhaps, compensating for my mistakes and vice versa.
I now see driving on the public highway as an exercise in societal cooperation.
Accepting that we all make mistakes and remaining calm is at the top of my car control priority list. Often when driving, I hold the “door open” for fellow road users – just like I do when going in or out of a shop – it’s driving that gives fellow drivers room - a forgiving nod for unintended driving errors.
Drive with a heightened sense of anxiety, anger or perhaps excited by a situation, and your body will prepare for the event you are anticipating, enduring or perhaps enjoying.
Adrenalin is a powerful substance. It’s joined by a cocktail of internal chemicals triggered by an event to help us survive a threatening situation. In the driving situation, it may not serve us well to get too excited.
In fact, statistically, driving when angry is probably the most dangerous state to be in. We begin to shut out the outside world and drive with a narrowing focus on the environment around us.
I recently learned Pilot’s refer to it as “coning in”. Being nervous or overwhelmed in a situation generates a comparable response.
The same can be said for simply being pumped up with adrenalin when driving. The physiological response from our body is to send the blood to our core and reduce the blood flow to our extremities.
Scarily that includes blood flow to our optic and auditory nerves - we begin to see and hear less. Our peripheral vision reduces - that’s not good for motorcyclists in our vicinity. If you want to see an object in your peripheral vision, it helps if it’s moving.
Try it - hold up your hand to the side of your head at arms length, hold it stationary and then move your hand. Interesting I thought when explained to me many years ago on a coaching course.
Now imagine approaching a T junction from a minor road to join the major road. The motorcycle to your right, approaching on the major road, is at an acute angle and sitting in your peripheral vision. It may even look stationary and not register as a moving object.
A heightened emotional state is now reducing your ability to sense and see the motorbike - perhaps “coning in” is now taking effect and that necessary confirmation look to the right, might be over-looked.
Life experience helps us to control and predict our emotional responses, especially if we enjoy sport and external challenges that raise our emotional state.
The experience of competition can be, not only rewarding but educational in respect to our own coping mechanisms. Like many situations we experience, repetition brings prediction and reassurance that we can manage our own reaction.
I teamed up a with Auto Trader a while back to share my Top 5 Road Safety Tips. The video covers techniques that can be easily applied to your every day driving.
Driving brings similar experiences and empowerment. Emotional equilibrium for me has become easier to maintain as I’ve aged. That said, I still have spikes in mood and concentration levels based on: the time of day I’m driving; how busy my week’s been; and sometimes, intentional scary and exciting overloads, as I still enjoy motor racing and driving on track days.
The time of day we drive is a factor not often considered when assessing the risk of a journey. We all run and respond to our own inner body clock.
Early morning starts, late nights and shift work can all affect our sleep patterns and consequently, our performance when controlling a vehicle.
You may have heard of the phrase Circadian Rhythm. A natural process designed to ensure you sleep at certain times of the day. Hence driving when your body expects you to be sleeping may see you knocking on the door of a higher risk journey.
My profession and personal learning have opened my eyes to a whole new world of journey planning and risk management. These nuanced persuaders of increased driving risk simply passed me by as a younger man. Hence you will find them discussed on our many and varied course offerings.
Drive at night and you could be up to 4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. The hours between 21:00-06:00 are fatigue hot spots. Drivers are most likely to be involved in a tiredness related incident between the hours 02:00-04:00.
Source: Department for Transport
My driving world has become more formulaic - information brings empowerment and lower risk when considering when to travel.
Could you reschedule your journey to a safer time? Or plan your diary or leisure time to ensure you are well-rested, hydrated and nourished, before embarking on a long journey?
Car Control is a simple phrase that means something different to all of us. If you have a desire to explore the huge canvas that car control is, then talk with Jo or Lynne on 01234 757 633 or complete the enquiry form here.
CAT’s Road Advanced Driver Training or Advanced Control Course are great starting points for your personal driving journey. You can choose to sign up for one day or a series of days with us and your sessions will be tailored exclusively to you.
Our customer written Trustpilot reviews confirm the depth of your learning exceeds your expectations, time and time again.
Spent a fascinating day at Millbrook and out on the road with Paul who kept my attention on driving throughout a long day without me tiring in the least.
The opportunity to work with someone who not only understands the art of driving on British public roads but combines this with an engineer's appreciation of the mechanics and physics of four-wheeled vehicles is a potent stimulus to better driving and in the week since my day with CAT, I can already see that I am approaching the task of driving somewhat differently.
There really is a great deal you can learn even after driving for 40 years and I will be back to build on this start once I've had a chance to assimilate this day fully.
In our 4th instalment, we continue our car control exploration with an in-depth dive into the world of Ice Driving. CLICK HERE TO READ.
An effective and exciting way to develop car control skills and have endless sideways fun at the same time in an environment only the frozen North can offer.
"Performance Driver Track Day Course I participated in the course arranged by Porsche Club GB and very happy to give 5 stars all round. The team has put a huge amount of thought and effort into making the facilities and training Covid-secure, which is indicative of their professionalism. I found the whole day both fascinating and a lot of fun, in briefings, on the various driving segments, and chatting with the team and other participants. I was genuinely in awe of how much Colin moved my theoretical and practical driving on, and what he got me to get the car to do in the space of one day - always building confidence, encouraging me to explore my limits, while not pushing me beyond them. Can't wait to return!"
"I have had a reasonable degree of driving training over the years as am ex police officer and advanced police driver. I took the performance driver driver training to learn about track driving, and found it excellent. My instructor was Paul who was fantastic. The training built up during the day and I learnt so much about the capabilities of my own car and although I was nervous about using my own car realised afterwards it was the best thing for me to do. The instruction was extremely informative from an engineering perspective coupled with driving, friendly and tailored to your individual needs and abilities. At no time was I encouraged or pushed to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with. It was extremely professional throughout. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone whatever your standard of driving."
"Truly exceptional In my experience, driving instruction has generally consisted of being repeatedly told that you are 'doing it wrong' accordingly to some unknown standard or principle that you had hoped to learn about by taking said instruction. Then there is Colin. It is not that common to find an individual who genuinely understands both people and engineering. It is incredibly rare to find one who can actively apply both to deliver a sustained behavioural change. Colin adapts his teaching style to the way you learn. For me, he lead with the WHY of the learning point, grounded in physics and engineering. We'd then put it in to practice, often doing several variants of an excercise to explore how the car reacts to differing inputs, providing valuable context for what good feels like and reinforcing the learning point. Each point built on the previous ones, layering up and coming together in to a whole, one far greater than the sum of it's parts. Subtle changes to huge effect. I was concerned on the day that the learnings would rapidly fade, but I have found that because Colin has taught me an understanding the lessons have persisted, even if I do still need some more practice (48 laps of the Silverstone GP circuit last Thursday definitely helped!). Add to this the fact that Colin is great company and an absolute pleasure to spend time with, and you have one of the most positive learning experiences I've ever known. Truly exceptional. I could not recommend more highly. Thank you!"
"Superb day with calm knowledgable and professional guidance from Paul. Thank you Paul. The course is so well structured consistently building ability and knowledge in complete safety. I fully recommend anyone wishing to increase their knowledge, confidence and experience to attend."
"Far better than any track day you can imagine! There is a massive difference between a typical driver experience or track day events and CAT driver training. The main difference is that you drive your own car to the full extent of it's capabilities, and your own, while being given expert one to one tuition by brilliant trainers Colin and Paul, who come from a Motorsport and auto engineering background. Their combined domain knowledge of engineering and competitive Motorsport allows them to explain the physics of why the car behaves as it does and how you can exploit the cars characteristics for maximum performance., in a safe fun environment. The frankly brilliant experience on the track is matched by the quality hospitality hosted by Jo, and classroom training, which prepares you for what you will experience on the next stage. These stages include such delights as the ring, where you will drive with no hands on the wheel at 100MPH, providing you with a clear understanding of the fact the car finds its own balance , and my personal favourite the alpine stage, with hairpins a plenty and 'character building' drops and rock faces. I have to admit to being slightly 'corner shy' before the training, however after some brilliant coaching from Collin urging me to 'stay on the gas, stay on the gas!' I am now far more confident and safe in the twisty stuff!"
"I don’t want to make this review too long and detailed, so I think the best way to summarise it is this: I think I possibly learnt more in one day that I’ve ever learnt before and the skills are relevant to all driving and can be practised daily. On the way home, I drove the ‘long way’ just to practise and feel the difference in the attitude of the car. I used to do this now and again because there are a few good straights and it’s nice to give the car a ‘blast’. This time, I drove that way home because I wanted to drive round the corners properly."
"Extremely professional driver training. Period. I wanted a course that would deliver a very high level of training, in an organised and professional manner. The course exceeded my expectations in every way, I wish I had started working with CAT Driver training years ago. There is no doubt that if you are looking for absolute top level training, there isn't anywhere else to look. Somehow they manage to follow a very tried and tested course structure, yet it is tailored all the way along to meet your requirements and current skill set. very impressive. I cannot rate this company highly enough. I have more dates booked already."
"Very structured training Paul was very clear and methodical in his coaching. The training technique was built up in various sections during the day and all came together like a jigsaw puzzle in the end for a great result."
"It's hard not to be enthusiastic about the lasting impact CAT Driver Training will have on your approach to driving. I spent a day with Paul exploring the potential of my new vehicle. The coaching is clear, methodical and structured to allow you to go on learning for a full day without overload. The training venue is superb and quiet enough (on the day I attended) to allow uninterrupted driving. Brilliant admin team too. Absolutely 5 Star!"
"Everything you read about these people is true and i cannot really add anything apart from clicking these five stars and to say they are truly incredibly knowledgeable, professional and nice. I did the Performance Driver Track day in my amazing six-month-old 911 GTS 4 and I now know so much more about my car and myself. I was in a group of six people all with different driving skill levels from the complete novice (me) to regular track day enthusiasts and the day was a journey of discovery for everyone. I am so pleased to have done it."
"First class performance car training day. Many thanks to Paul & your great team for a really enjoyable training day at Millbrook on Friday. I learnt a lot more about the capabilities of my F430 and found many new limits! The attention to detail in the delivery of the training was exceptional. I would recommend this to anyone with a performance car who wants to fully understand and enjoy their vehicle."
"An amazing day. If you drive you should go to CAT. If you have a performance car you MUST go to CAT. A day with CAT will transform your driving, you it be safer on the road in any situation and it will be the biggest performance upgrade your car will ever get. I learned so much in one day without any pressure, effort or stress. Colin's coaching is world class, he makes it simple / interesting to understand and easy to absorb / remember. The whole day and and everything leading up to it are well organised by the team. They REALLY care that you have a great day and TOTALLY deliver. You owe it to yourself to go."
"Absolutely Brilliant! The best advice I can give: believe every one of the glowing reviews on CAT! I approached CAT because I wanted to feel more comfortable with my newly-purchased BMW, the first rear-wheel drive car to be used for every-day driving after decades of FWD cars. I wanted to find out what the car's capabilities are, what it would feel like in extreme conditions, understand what it was telling me at the limits and, generally to get advice on my own technique. I wasn't a novice, having done plenty of track days and laps of the Nordschleife but I just knew that there's always plenty more to learn... A day's Performance Driver session met every one of my targets, and then more! Paul was a patient, logical and technical instructor who took time to explain what would happen in each manoeuvre and then fully debriefed that stage so that I not only knew what the car was doing but also understood what effect on the car my own actions were having. The proof of the pudding was in the final stage - setting consistent timed laps of the handling circuit. I'd worried a little about this all day as I'd have described my driving as enthusiastic but perhaps not consistent. The results were close to unbelievable to me! By remembering all that Paul had demonstrated and explained to me I surpassed my wildest dreams. Fantastic! As a result of this day, I now have more belief in my ability to read what my car's saying to me which brings confidence and relaxation. The car and I are now a team, rather than me just sitting there making it go down the road. I can highly recommend the whole CAT experience. Professional, friendly, patient, technical when required and not afraid to challenge when necessary. Oh, and the lunch is good too! I wish I could afford to go back every month..."
"Achieve your driving goals here! Can't ask for more than that! The entire experience was a positive and pleasant one. Everyone I met at CAT Driver Training contributed positively to the day, regardless of the role, so thank you to Jo, Lynne and of course, Colin! CAT have existing programmes for teaching anyone the fundamentals and advanced techniques of how to drive fast, but Colin can identify really quickly what you can and cannot do, and is quick to understand how to best use your time. I went in with my own unique set of requirements which slightly 'broke' the programme, but it was no problem at all and the most impressive thing was that I achieved my goals by the end of the day! I wanted to understand my car, be able to find and drive at the grip limit, and also understand how to be a faster and better driver. A lot to fit into a day, but Colin managed it in the most efficient way possible, and we achieved them all! Colin has great insights into vehicle dynamics, as well as the human machine behind the wheel. He understands why we sometimes don't function as optimally as we would like! His ability to listen to you, translate your input and isolate what is not working with your current technique helps focus the day on exactly what needs attention. This focus, along with Colin's 'feeling' of how the package of car and driver is behaving, makes him uniquely qualified to provide great direction and input to help you become the best driver possible. A lot of people talk about it, but very few can translate the inputs to a specific process for you to follow as a driver. The process is all about starting with foundations and building on them. It doesn't always seem to make sense, but trust the system - it all comes together in the end! The time is not cheap, but it will help you achieve your goals, so how do you put a price on that!? Thank you CAT Driver Training!!
"Best In Class Driver Training The training provided by Colin at CAT Driver training is superb. I am lucky enough to attended training days with Porsche, Lotus, Aston Martin and the day with a Colin at Millbrook has topped them all being informative, challenging, practical and above all delivered by a true Petrol Head. Thanks again and I will be back with the 911."
"Reminding how to drive fast A day with Colin on a 'One to One' basis is almost essential for anyone who lives on a small rock in the middle of the English Channel or lives in a city. We don't drive fast and don't get the opportunity to drive fast unless we are on a track. Colin spent the day reminding me how much fun it was to have 'fast feet' and to make the Tyres 'squeak' as they reach the sticky limit. I think I lost about 7kg in weight during the day as I was worked so hard but oh what a day. Thoroughly recommended to anyone who had a petrol head. Best bit was the 'Alpine Loop' at the end of the day. Full gas on the exit with all four squeaking. 👍😃"
"Excellent! Colin, Jo, Paul and the team are amazing, professional and have a unique ability to cover all areas of driving properly. My driving capability has been enhanced beyond measure. I highly recommend them and the CAT Advanced Driving Academy Programme. During the course it became clear to me that CAT Driving are one of the very few on the planet with such experience and capability. They have designed a brilliant dedicated package focused on working with you and delivered with an attentive caring personal touch."
"Paul was amazing: awesome teacher with a great brain. Made me realize my Mustang has actually way more grip and better and better handling than I thought. Top notch facilities in Millbrook. Totally worth it."