Police System

Police System

The Examiner's View

What is the examiner looking for in my drive?

This is one of the most common questions an associate asks when starting a course with AAM. We asked former IAM examiner Keith Nicholson to give us his view on what an examiner will be looking for, and what you can expect on your test. Now retired, Keith was a Police Class 1 Advanced Driver, and Instructor at Greater Manchester Police Driving School. By following Keith's advice, you will be well on the way to a successful and enjoyable Advanced Driving Test.

"Arrange to arrive at the appointed time and place in good time so as to avoid stress. When parking up, avoid that surreptitious ‘knit’ (crossed hands) of the steering wheel, or even the ‘palming’ of it when manoeuvring into your test starting point. The examiner is probably there already and watching (oh no!). It would also assist the examiner’s first impression if you parked your vehicle ready for the off, facing forwards rather than nose up to a brick wall, JCB or 2CV!

After a brief exchange you’re off. The examiner’s ready (mentally) and rather hoping you don’t crunch a gear within the first couple of minutes or so – something you’ve probably not done for many years. He knows you are under pressure, you’ll be given some early sympathy and he’s been there himself through rigorous police advanced training – possibly also many years ago!

If you are lucky enough to drive a manual geared car, driven correctly it should be smoother than your average automatic. With perfect coordination between clutch and accelerator you should effect a clean, smooth gear change. A car full of passengers (not just your examiner) should not involuntarily ‘nod’ each time you operate the clutch pedal.

Your examiner is looking forward to you showing good observation, anticipation and planning. Scan the road ahead. Look to your limit point and scan the road back from it. That done early, accurately and acted upon properly, your anticipation and planning will develop to such an extent that the system of car control will be put into practice with timely application. You may very well volunteer commentary at some stage, and it is encouraged and appreciated by examiners. But remember ‘oops’ and ‘what’s he doing?’ suggest a lack of anticipation and do not form part of a good commentary.

Your overall car control is under scrutiny, i.e. the correct values of acceleration, braking and steering. Develop your acceleration sense to reduce braking to a minimum and to avoid sudden or late braking. Delicate initial brake pressure is desirable under all braking conditions – to maximise the balance of your vehicle and to avoid skidding. When coming to the end of your braking, ease off the pedal in a similar fashion to how you started braking. That will also balance your vehicle better and provide smoother transition into your gear-changing phase if one is required. Your examiner will be expecting a gear change independent of the braking phase of the ‘system’. Your examiner would also appreciate engine revolutions matched to the appropriate gear at the speed you are travelling.

A perfectly balanced vehicle can only be achieved by adopting the aforementioned coupled with precise steering control employing the ‘pull-push’ method. Your initial delicate pull down on the steering wheel will do much to improve the balance of your vehicle whether at low or high speed.

Position your vehicle appropriately for all situations. Consider perhaps using an emptier lane if there are two or more for the direction in which you are travelling – it will improve your observations and greatly improve progress.

Where bends are concerned, be seen to be positioning your car appropriately for both left and right hand bends. If on the open road with a national speed limit, the examiner appreciates flair and imagination. Enjoy your opportunity to drive with ‘spirit’. There may be overtaking opportunities (not compulsory). If appropriate, position your vehicle to give yourself a chance of overtaking should one arise. Remember the most difficult part of overtaking is not the manoeuvre itself, but the correct position prior to it.

The accuracy and timing of mirrors and signals are, of course, examined throughout your test. The examiner expects regular mirror checks and without exception prior to changing speed or direction. The timing of signals is very important – they’re meant to help other road users, not confuse. There should normally be a pause between indicator signals and brakes – as a general rule, the higher the speed the longer the pause. This will give any following traffic time to react.

Concentration is the key. Driving is to be enjoyed – even on a test. The test is conducted in a spirit of friendliness, not intimidation. Constructive criticism will be offered at the end of the test – successful or not.

Take a pride in your driving and treat it as an art. Even on our busy roads there are many opportunities to enjoy it to the full. Good luck if your test is imminent – and for the future. Remember, the more you practise the more skilful you will become.

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17.01 | 19:55

I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Very well written!

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