Chapter 13 – The police car – Ford focus 1.6

British traffic police officers undergo a minimum of two-stage driver-training (totaling at least six weeks) or sometimes even three-stage training (totaling ten weeks) to get them to the ‘advanced’ level required for driving patrol cars, and another one or two equally arduous courses are necessary if they are to qualify as patrol motorcyclists as well.

As a result, officers who qualify both as advanced drivers and advanced motorcyclists benefit from up to 680 hours of high-speed training (including basic and intermediate levels). To qualify as an instructor in both disciplines would require a further 496 hours of training.

Apart from skid pan sessions, virtually all British police driver training takes place on public roads and therefore avoids the sterile, almost traffic-free environment of private circuits. It also means that learning to ensure the safety of other road users is an inescapable necessity at all times; and that, more than anything else, is arguably what advanced driver training is truly about.

The three-stage training referred to above can be defined as follows (source — UK Association of Chief Police Officers):

Basic Driving – Training to fulfill a patrol function within the constraints of the Highway Code [n.b the British ‘Highway Code’ is somewhat similar to a U.S. a state driver’s manual but is more detailed]. Typically four weeks/160 hours.

Standard Driving – Extending basic training to include emergency response driving, night response driving and most importantly, attitudinal training. A pragmatic introduction to pursuit incidents and pursuit management in line with standard level car control skills. Typically three weeks/120 hours.

Advanced Driving – Achieving a high level of all round driver skills, enabling pursuits and high speed response driving, as well as a full understanding of the effects of attitude and associated stress.Typically three weeks/120 hours.

Ignition on, mirror – two pedestrians 200 yards away – black Astra reversing 50 yards away – traffic lights on left at green – engage gears – signal – accelerate – move off – 3 pedestrians, 2 minors on pavement – bakers, newsagents, flower shop – zebra crossing – unoccupied – change gear – accelerate – Homebase, Currys, Aldi – green Corsa indicating right turn ahead, brake – gear change – decelerate – halt – into neutral – green Corsa makes turn – engage gears – accelerate – move off………

Change gear – accelerate – unescorted dog on pavement – check mirror – wonder what kind of dog it is? Looks like a staffy cross – always wanted a dog,but not fair,not with these shifts – change gear – circus flyer tied to lamp-post, roundabout ahead signal – check mirror – indicate – change lanes – indicate – take third exit – hairdressers, betting shop, Indian take away – need to think about supper, not sure what’s in, see if she fancies a take-away tonight, not Indian though, Chinese or one of those noodle bars – filter lane ahead, stay straight – check mirrors – 20 speed limit area – engage gears -deceleration – brake – school ahead – zig zag markings – no parking allowed – nail bar, photographers, bargain booze – red VW Golf – indicating left to turn into parking space – white transit van behind – touch brakes – Golf pulls in – accelerate – speed camera –

40 mile zone – change gear -accelerate – play area -empty – bus stop- 4 adults – 2 children waiting – bus approaching from behind – junction up ahead – speed kills – flowers tied to railings – 4 bunches – wonder what happened here, they don’t look recent,hate RTAs, messy, time consuming, it’s always raining too – rain started – wipers on – chemist, bookies, pound shop – Give way in 200 yards – junction up ahead – accident black spot – two for the price of one on all ready meals – junction in 100 yards – check mirrors – decelerate – change gear – brake – prepare to stop – stop – left/right – left/right again –

Bus approaching on right – black Porsche on left, followed by white Astra, blue Nissan, white Clio – clear on left – clear on right – gear – accelerate – move off – Porsche – what job you need to do to have one of those? must be nice – all leather interior, admiring glances – all that power, wonder how it handles – must be a bugger to keep clean, black cars show every bit of dust, quite fancy one of those driving days – might see if the lads fancy it sometime, bit of a bus-mans holiday though.

National speed limits apply – think bike – sharp right hand bend ahead – horses in a field – warning this field has CCTV and these horses are freeze-marked – farm entrance on left – tractor ahead – maximum speed 20 miles an hour – brake- change gear – whoops – didn’t check mirror – check mirror – down to twenty miles an hour – metallic blue Frontera behind – farm shop up ahead – eggs and veg – Cant believe this guy hasn’t noticed the build up behind him, must be ten cars, all driving at 20, you think he’d look in his mirror, pullover can’t you.

Gun metal grey Saxo, overtaking past me and past tractor- minor junction ahead – danger of skidding -mud on road – private gateway, no turning – 2 miles to The Copse, an executive development – cycle path merges with traffic – check mirror – 20 cars behind, speed 20 miles an hour – train track on left – Intercity passes – crossing ahead – check mirror – stopped raining – turn off wipers – brake lights on tractor- check mirror – brake – 15 miles an hour – lose weight, ask me how, fine bespoke furniture 200 yards ahead – bespoke – don’t know what that word means, sounds expensive though, quite fancy a trip to Ikea this week end – off shift, 2 days clear – their meat balls are good, want to start on the spare room, get some shelving up – Christ – tractor swings wide to turn right -almost bloody went into the back of it

Hump backed bridge ahead – warning oncoming vehicles in center of road – reduce speed now – mirror- brake- gear down –
oh look down there, it’s a narrow boat, must be a bit damp this time of year – woman driving it looks a bit tense, wonder if she’s on her own, can’t see anybody else- they don’t move very fast, might be relaxing, looks a bit boring
past bridge- accelerate – gear up – sharp right hand bend ahead – bungalow.

National speed limit applies – change gear – accelerate – bendy road ahead – no tipping – no overnight stays in this lay-by – public toilet 2 miles ahead – Christmas trees, some green stuff in a field, black and white cows all travelling across a field in a completely straight line – wonder how they teach them to do that? – minor junction up ahead – check mirror – indicate right – Iceland lorry, land rover Discovery, wait for gap and go – single track road -please use passing places – This is nice,unexpected, looks really countryish – if we had a dog,we could take him here, give him a good run on a Saturday, find a nice pub.

Thirty mile zone ahead – mirror, brake, gear change – decelerate – this village welcomes careful drivers, bridal shop, computer shop, the village store – thank you for driving safely – National speed limit applies -warning cows – warning ducks – hog roast and guest beers -big house, another big house, man on a bike, legs going a million miles an hour – God, but some people look stupid in Lycra, wonder if he’s ever looked in the mirror? He’s one of those eco- blokes,probably wants to ban cars, make us all eat muesli .

T – junction ahead, 200 yards, brake, check mirror, no wrong order, check mirror, then brake, pedestrian on road, looks ready to cross, major brake, stop – gear in neutral, engage gear, rev engine,accelerate, and go – warning school ahead – do not exceed 20 miles when warning lights are flashing – warning lights not flashing – stay at 30 – shoe shop, kitchen fitters, garage, terraced house – Black Punto pulling out of parking space- brake lightly, reduce speed- left turn coming up – mirror – indicate, mirror again – cyclist coming up in cycle lane – hold back from making turns – slow down, change gear and left turn, its been a long day, glad when its over, do I risk a cheeky early finish, say house was empty, no-one in, head home the back way, could be in for 2 pm, its tempting.

National speed limit applies, road empty, foot down, plant nursery, pig farm, building plot, car in ditch- Christ, that one looks nasty, upside down, one door completely stoved in, windows smashed, its been here a while, the police aware tape is beginning to fray, wonder who got the call out, glad it wasn’t me, would have been freezing and dark and bloody muddy.

Major roundabout ahead- local roundabout ahead – for motorway stay in right hand lane – non-motorway traffic bear left – M1- M69 – M6 – best fried breakfast, hot cobs and sandwiches, cakes and ice cold drinks – New Sainsburys opening here 2013 – Who’s watching your valuables – check your speed – speed cameras ahead – But this one never has any film in, not been checked in the last 3 years, but best slow down, set a good example – lol ing to myself at that thought .

Traffic lights sequence has been changed – Tesco Metro – Esso petrol, All days food store,Kwik fit fitters, The nail bar, the Kings head, the crusty cob, the dunkin donut, Costsa drivethru, MCDonalds,Pappa johns – really hungry , might still be a packet of biscuits in the glove compartment , nah all gone thieving gits in the last shift, that’s the last time I leave anything in here, should have learnt by now really.

Bus lane 4 pm to 6pm – pedestrian lights – orange – brake, mirror – FFS mirror – brake gear change and prepare to stop. Woman and child, dog cross the road – big shaggy one, don’t know what sort, like the look of it though, quite like the look of her too, blond, bit posh, smile

Radio squawks into life – first shout out in what 10, 15 miles, call for all mobiles, gotta be serious then, there goes my chance of an early bath, short day. Push my hands through my hair, really regret the snaffled biscuits now, wonder if I can stop off , grab a sandwich, still debating it and knowing the answer really – chew a sugar-free mint to keep me going and then shove on the nee-naw. I can justify the blues and twos – some low life’s abducted two kiddies from outside a shop.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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