All sorts of ‘rules’ or ‘guidelines’ are important in safe driving but, a few years ago, a panel of British Police Advanced Driving Instructors was asked to decide on which one was the most crucial.
To put things in perspective, British police advanced drivers and advanced motorcyclists are by far the most highly-trained individuals in the world relative to safe driving/riding on public roads, with just one exception — the instructors who train them! Qualifying at the advanced level in both disciplines of driving and motorcycle riding takes a minimum of ten weeks (400 hours) of behind-the-wheel training, at very high speeds among regular traffic on public roads, not a private circuit. And this is done in unmarked vehicles without any flashing lights or sirens. That duration of training is far more than it takes to obtain a private pilot’s license. Qualifying as an advanced police instructor then takes several more full weeks of training and many more weeks as a continuously supervised instructor, to ensure the task is being done with absolute accuracy.
So what is this ‘Golden Rule’?
Interestingly, the panel of advanced instructors said that this concept of a golden rule had to have an explanatory introduction and that was that the most fundamental thing is to stay on the correct side of the road — for example, on the left in Britain or Australia, and on the right in the USA or France. It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? And of course it is, but in many countries that people visit on vacation or on business, there are road deaths every year because a visitor made a mistake and drove on the wrong side. Once this was made clear, the panel was able to focus on a key rule that would apply to and be helpful to all drivers, anywhere in the world, and it is this:
“Never drive so fast that you cannot stop:
on your own side of the road,
within the distance you can see to be clear.”™
(Copyright, 2006, in North America; Advanced Drivers of [North] America)
There is much more to this powerful safety advice than meets the eye. For example, “the distance you can see to be clear” emphatically does not mean “the distance you can clearly see!” Similarly, the “safely” aspect is inextricably linked to a full and correct understanding of safe following distances.
Naturally, this is one of the many topics explained in great detail on all Advanced Drivers of North America, Inc., training courses.