There’s been a lot of politics about the legality of training carried out off-road, much of which pre-dates my involvement in driver training, but which seems to be coming to a head at the moment.
Whether there will be any movement by those bodies who currently certificate off-road driving courses, I don’t know, but there will be some changes to the way that the driver training industry approaches 4×4 training.
There are several well qualified (DSA ADI, Fleet, Lantra-Awards and RoSPA qualified) now advocating an integrated approach to training 4×4 operators. The old distinction between defensive driving and off-roading is disappearing and the 4×4 courses currently in development will work to the Roadcraft system of car control (Information, Position, Speed, Gear, Accelleration, Information – IPSGA for short). Unlike the DSAs LADA and MSPSL routines, the advanced driving system can be applied in all conditions.
The fleet training world as a whole is beginning to understand 4x4s and are turning to the old agricultural trainers who were the bastions of the old off-road training courses less and less. Companies such as our 4×4 training provider have been at the forefront of this change.
By applying the same systemic approach to driving which has transformed the emergency services, advanced driving and fleet training in the last few decades, we should see a reduction in occupational incidents on-road as well as off from these courses. I’ve written elsewhere about the fact that the major risk factor for 4×4 fleet operators is not the brief moments crossing fields, but the long periods on-road – especially rural roads.
There will always be discussions about best practice. Currently we’re trying to get rid of the fallacy of the bow-wave in all but extreme emergency/expedition situations, as well as the dangerous practice of recommending a forced stall on failed ascents which actually breaks the Health and Safety at Work Act by switching off safety systems. However, these are details. The whole approach to driving off-road is changing and coming in to line with best advanced driving practice, for that we give thanks.