So What Exactly Is Advanced Driving?

‘Advanced Driving’ is a phrase that is often used, out of context, in driving schools and racetrack driving courses by people who suggest that knowing a few enhanced evasion techniques is enough to qualify for this description. Accurate advanced driving, however, is solely concerned with public road driving, not private tracks. Furthermore, it is entirely structured towards avoiding any hazardous situation rather than rectifying one after it has started.

In other words, enhanced vehicle-handling techniques may be helpful but represent only a small part of actual advanced driving. In isolation, zooming through coned obstacle courses and learning skid control will make a driver faster but do virtually nothing to teach that driver to be truly safe, especially when driving above the speed limit, as police officers sometimes need to do.

The only proven methodology is based on the Roadcraft “System of Car Control.” This was founded by the police in Britain in 1935 and has been continuously refined by them since that time. It was created to reduce the number of crashes experienced by police officers and succeeded to the extent that the crash rate fell to one-sixth of its previous level.

The critical factor is that this is no “Johnny-come-lately” scheme, dreamt up by a few individuals, because it seems like a suitable method. On the contrary, it has been refined and improved for more than seventy years by collective thousands of the world’s top public road driving experts.

The fundamental aim of advanced driving is to utilize observations, anticipation, and planning, allowing a driver to have adequate time to deal with any situation. This applies finely good drivers traveling within the relevant legal speed limits but latency personnel driving very high speeds.

One mantra for emergency-service drivers that the writer of this article was taught from the outset of his own police advanced driver training in Britain is a classic but basic example of the ethos in question:
“It is no good being sent to deal with a serious road accident if you cause another one yourself on your way there!”

Advanced Driving — A Definition

Advanced driving is 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 overall good attitude and creates a high standard of driving competence based on the concentration, compelling all-around observations, anticipation, and planning. These aspects must be coordinated with good handling skills.

Advanced driving is based on the System of Car Control, defined as “a system or drill, each feature of which is considered, in sequence, on the approach to any hazard.” In other words, the vehicle must always be in the correct lateral position on the road, at the right time, traveling at the right speed, with the proper gear engaged, and always able to stop safely in the distance that can be seen, to be precise.

A hazard may cause a driver to change speed or course. Hazards include apparent features such as curves and intersections, plus other vehicles and pedestrians, but also have less noticeable instances 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 organized and safety hazards, leaving nothing to chance. Its overriding aim is to give a driver time to react and sell safely with the situation, whatever the circumstances.

Anybody who has passed their state or provincial driving test can learn advanced driving. For the full range of courses available from ADA, click here.

Definition Copyright © 2006: Advanced Drivers of America, Inc.

To provide further insight into this highly complex subject, we include here some external links, such as this one on the essential ‘System of Car Control’ —

The point should be made again that good driving requires far more than just competent handling skills. Some hazards that drivers encounter are hard to predict and can occur singly or in overlapping clusters — think about all the potential dangers at a busy town junction/intersection, especially if the traffic lights/signals have failed. Suppose you wish to develop the necessary physical and mental skills for advanced driving. In that case, you must create a forward-thinking, investigative approach to safely recognize and negotiate all hazards.

The UK traffic police are widely held to be among the best-trained road drivers in the world, and a summary of their typical 160-hour advanced driving course may be found on the Scottish Police College website. In addition, officers who qualify as advanced drivers and motorcyclists benefit from up to 680 hours of the public road, largely high-speed training (including initial and intermediate levels before the ‘advanced’ course). To qualify as an instructor in both disciplines would require an additional 496 hours of training.

It is well-written about police driving courses, which are unavailable to ordinary drivers. Nor should they be, as they are targeted primarily at high speeds and emergency driving. Therefore, the concept of ‘advanced driving’ needs to be considered somewhat differently when talking about members of the public, but that doesn’t matter as long as the same basic techniques are taught so that people get a good grounding in the subject.

To the best of our knowledge, at Drive and Stay Alive, there is only one driving school in the whole of the United States that offers public-road, truly advanced driving courses (see the above definition), and that is Advanced Drivers of America, Inc. (for both Canada and the USA).

Advanced Drivers of America (ADA) also provides advanced driver testing and a range of awards.

In Britain, however, two-parent organizations provide courses and recognized tests in the fundamentals of advanced driving. Links have been included here so you can look at what is involved. The Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Advanced Drivers Association (RoSPA-ADA). Several private companies also provide such courses (without the recognized tests), which are almost always owned or run by former traffic patrol police officers.

One of the IAM’s 200+ affiliated regional groups is based in Dumfries, Scotland, and their website gives a fascinating insight into the aims of advanced driving.