Even on dull days, the shadows cast by a highway over-bridge is an excellent marker with which to check that your following distance is adequate.

Photograph copyright 2012 - All rights reserved




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Read the Disclaimer!


What IS Advanced Driving?


What is NOT Advanced Driving?


The History of Advanced Driving


Selected YouTube Video Clips of UK Police Advanced Driving and Riding


See also: Defensive Driving and Advanced Driving What are the Differences?


and: Bad Advice, Myths and Mistakes in Relation to Safe Driving




What is Advanced Driving?


Advanced Driving is defined as the ability to control the position and speed of a vehicle safely, systematically and smoothly, at all times. It works with existing road and traffic conditions to allow reasonable progress to be made unobtrusively, with skill and responsibility. It requires a positive, knowledgeable, courteous and all-around good attitude, and creates a high standard of driving competence based on concentration, effective all-round observations, anticipation and planning. These aspects must be combined with appropriate and capable handling skills. 


Advanced Driving is based on the System of Car Control, which in turn is defined as "a system or drill, each feature of which is considered, in sequence, on the approach to any hazard."  As an essential part of the System, the vehicle must always be in the correct lateral position on the road, at the right time, traveling at the right speed, with the correct gear engaged, and always able to stop safely within the distance that can be seen to be clear. 


A hazard is defined as anything that may cause a driver to change speed or course. Hazards include obvious features such as curves and intersections, plus other vehicles and pedestrians, but also include less-obvious situations such as a minor movement sideways to avoid a small object on the road surface. 


In simpler terms, Advanced Driving is a way of approaching and dealing with all hazards that is methodical and safe, and leaves absolutely nothing to chance. Its one overriding aim is to give a driver time to react and to deal safely with the situation, whatever the circumstances, even if the vehicle is lawfully being used at high speeds by emergency-services drivers such as law enforcement officers.

Definition copyright 2006, updated 2010. All Rights Reserved. Advanced Drivers of America, Inc.


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What is Not Advanced Driving?


It is too easy to claim that any driver training which takes place after the trainees in question have taken their routine driving test is "advanced driving" and yet all that does is de-value the meaning and the purpose of the real thing.


What we might call "true" advanced driving has been painstakingly developed over an astonishing 75-year period in order to find the best way to create maximum safety for people who are driving on public roads.  Within the previous comment lies the first important fact, namely that advanced driving  in the context of safe driving has nothing to do with driving on private circuits or racetracks; it is designed specifically for driving in random traffic on the full range of public roads, anywhere in the world.  One can go further than this and categorically state that racetrack techniques may be essential during track races and, indeed, they may also be great fun but they increase risk when used on public roads and should therefore never be taught for use on public roads, period!


Classic examples of racetrack techniques which should NOT be used on public roads are:

  • The "Apexing" of curves

  • "Drafting"

  • "Trail Braking"

  • "Heel & Toe"

  • The "Racing Line"

  • Relying on your reactions

Next comes the subject of "escape techniques".  There are two of these, and they are:

  • Skid Training

  • "Evasive Swerve" maneuvers

There are three extreme reasons why escape techniques are definitely not the best way to deal with safety among traffic on public roads.  The first is a simple fact: A well-trained driver (i.e. one who has been taught safer methods than these escape techniques) will not get into the dangerous situations from which such desperate methods are supposedly needed.  A good driver will recognize in advance the likelihood of a bad situation developing and then work to stay OUT of that situation, without getting into any danger in the first place.  Getting into an unsafe situation is almost always an example of bad driving period!


The second reason is effectively a continuation of the first, but for this we need to remember that training for skids and for evasive swerving is carried out in wide-open, empty spaces such as old runways and empty parking lots.  Doing the techniques correctly under those circumstances is not only easy but it is also great fun (making it an "easy sell", just like racetrack techniques, on the basis of its popularity),  However, in "real life" the likelihood is that a driver may be on a relatively narrow road or a relatively busy road.  Under these circumstances, there is commonly not enough room to get out of a skid without hitting something, and similarly there is commonly not enough room to to take evasive (i.e. "swerve") maneuvers without hitting something, either.  And, of course, "hitting something" actually means the risk of injuring or killing oneself or other people.  Consider a potential situation where a driver does an evasive swerve to miss another vehicle that pulls in front of him but, having made that swerve, the "evading" driver now hits and kills say a child pedestrian or a bicyclist (or alternatively swerves left and gets into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer).  How could that ever be classed or accepted as being good technique?  It would be a blatant example of inappropriate and incapable driving, and this certainly does happen, every single day.


The third, and in many ways the most important reason is that as with everything on this website you are not just reading one person's opinion.  Research in several countries has shown, for example, that people (particularly young people) who are taught how to get out of a skid, not only have more crashes afterwards than the people in scientific "control groups" who do NOT get the training but also that those crashes are at higher speeds among the trained drivers than are crashes among the people in the control group.1&2  The precise reason for this was debated for some years after the research was published but consensus is now that it is due to the tendency of such training to simply over-boost a driver's subconscious, self-confidence, something like: "I'm now a really good driver and even if something goes wrong, right in front of me, I can swerve or correct my skid and I'll be fine!"  And precisely because of that excessive self-belief, such people allegedly do not feel the need to slow down as much as they used to when approaching a potentially risky situation hence the higher speeds in crashes after the training has been done.


We now also have a separate web page which deals with the research surrounding this topic in much greater detail. Click here to view it.

Copyright 2010: Advanced Drivers of America, Inc.


References for the above article:

  1. Evaluation of an insight driver-training program for young drivers,  T. M. Senserrick & G. C. Swinburne (Monash Univ., Australia); 2001.

    "Traditional driver-training programs that aim to improve vehicle-handling skills, including manoeuvring exercises and skid training, have tended to be relatively ineffective in reducing crashes. In fact, the introduction of skid training into driver-training programs has been found to increase certain crash types for young drivers. This has been attributed to associated increases in confidence that resulted in greater risk-taking...."

  2. Conflicting goals of skid trainingKatila A, Keskinen E, Hatakka M.;  Department of Psychology, Univ. of Turku, Finland.

    "Efforts to make novice drivers drive more safely on slippery roads by means of special courses have mainly failed.... The exercises may give students the impression that manoeuvring skills are more important than anticipating skills. Manoeuvring exercises also increase their self-confidence and may lead to underestimation of the risks involved, resulting in e.g. driving at higher speed."


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The History of true Advanced Driving


In Britain, between the years 1935 and 1954, there was a dramatic reduction in accidents among the Metropolitan Police drivers, following the introduction of Approved Police Driving Schools in 1935.  Early in that 20-year period, the police developed "The System of Car Control" (above) which has been the basis of all of the historical developments shown below.  "The System" to give it its commonly-used, shorter name has been continually developed and refined ever since 1935 with only one over-riding criterion: maximum safety.


Figures produced by the Home Office, for the UK Government, showed that even in the early years the use of advanced driving techniques in the police in Britain reduced accidents to one-sixth (approx. 17%) of their previous total. [IAM]


A group of people from the "Road Safety Congress" subsequently decided to form what we now know as the Institute of Advanced Motorists [IAM].  Throughout 1955 they formed a Steering Committee with the result that the IAM was registered on 10 March, 1956, with the stated aims of improving driving standards, promoting road safety, and establishing an advanced driving test for all drivers. No longer would the skills be confined to police officers. In 1958, recognising that advanced drivers represent a "selected risk", a number of Lloyds underwriters began offering a 20% discount to IAM members.


Also back in 1955, the Finchley League of Safe Drivers was formed, in London, and in April 1960 it became a national organisation, simply called The League of Safe Drivers. It had two patrons, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (MP for Finchley and later the British Prime Minister)) and Mr. Raymond Baxter. It continued as an independent body with examiners in many parts of the UK. In many areas local groups were formed to maintain and foster the enthusiasm of its members. The League required its members to take tests at regular intervals and offered a three tier grading system.  In 1980 the organisation had become large and unwieldy and faced increasing overheads. It was decided that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents [RoSPA], which had in fact been very helpful from the earliest days, should take over the League, which it did on the 1 October 1980. Thus the RoSPA League of Safe Drivers was born and based in Birmingham. Eventually at the general request of the members the name was changed to, the RoSPA Advanced Drivers' Association [RoADA], in April 1982. [View RoADA source for this paragraph.]


In 1996, the IAM celebrated its 40th anniversary with many activities over the whole country, the launch of it's own website and it looks to the future with a range of new initiatives, including a campaign to target younger drivers.  In that year, the IAM also won a Prince Michael Road Safety Award.


In the year 2000, the IAM carried out it's 300,000th advanced driving test, and introduces a Discount Voucher scheme to encourage the 'most at risk' generation (i.e. those under 26 years of age) to benefit from the life saving possibilities of taking and passing the IAM Advanced Test.


Read the full IAM history, split into two periods:  1956-1979, and 1980 to 2005.


Copyright 2006-2010: Advanced Drivers of America, Inc.


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UK Police Advanced Driving and Motorcycle Riding Videos from YouTube


The first of the clips shown here was made by Sergeant Chris Gilbert a good personal friend of ADA's president, Eddie Wren and it shows Chris driving to an emergency scene in London, England.


Chris does an excellent job of demonstrating the calmness, acute observations, forward planning and professionalism that are required for police advanced driving, where the pressure is on and the speeds are often high!


Please be aware that Advanced Drivers of America has the exclusive license to use this video clip for seminar and training purposes throughout North America, but we can, however, sell you a copy of the full DVD on which this clip is to be found, and which explains the important art of commentary driving in great depth. Please contact us for details.


Excerpt:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVtQ4NN5_-Q&feature=related


The second clip is from Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, England, and this shows a police motorcyclist on his way to a crash scene:




If you struggle with the terminology used by the British, in relation to vehicles, roads and driving, please go to our US-UK Driving Terminology page.



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All contents including text, logos, artwork and photographs are copyright 2010 Advanced Drivers of America and/or Eddie Wren, unless stated otherwise.  Website last modified on 07-May-2012.