Training is bad for you. Apparently.

This year sees crashes at their lowest level since records began. We’re killing fewer people than ever – although the rate of fall has slowed markedly since the mid 1990s. Cars have airbags, side-impact bars, seatbelt pre-tensioners, anti-submarine seats, ABS, TCS, TSB, SOS and probably even BBC too. If your car looks after you so well, why does anyone still need to bother getting trained?

If you believe the latest study from the RAC Foundation, they don’t. In fact, getting trained is a thoroughly bad thing. Apparently, in their view, “Educational interventions… in some circumstances may inadvertently increase exposure to risk.”

So training isn’t just neutral – it’s actually harmful. So they seem to say.

As far as I can see, that argument isn’t so far away from Robert Gifford’s (the Chairman of the Parliamentary Council on Transport Safety – PACTS) comment that “trained riders just kill themselves faster.”

Like this, presumably…


It strikes me as a little odd that organisations supposed to be helping drivers and riders are so eager to queue up to demand more controls and penalties. Both the AA and RAC have come out strongly against the removal of speed camera funding. More significantly, I’m amazed at the same organisations are now eager to publish studies that show that training isn’t positive, or even just neutral, but harmful.

Using their argument, we could slash the deficit overnight. After all, if training is harmful, then why are we wasting money on education in any form? We can simply close every school, college and university in the UK, put the teachers and professors out to grass and sell the buildings for housing.

I wonder how much the writers and publishers understand how training really works. From experience, I’m curious how many of them even have a driving licence, let alone any sort of advanced driving or riding qualification. But perhaps this isn’t about driving and riding at all. Maybe it’s about something more fundamental – a way of looking at the world.

There are people who believe that if only everything was controlled, there was more compliance with rules and regulations and if only people just did what they’re told, we’d all be fine. And fined too, regularly. Then there are others who believe that, rather than externally-imposed controls, people should be taught to think for themselves, trained and educated and empowered. Big Brother versus Winston Smith.

I have a sneaky feeling that the “anti-trainers” are keen to see training purely as developing bike and car control skills, honing the individual’s ability to handle the machine. They’re much less keen on acknowledging what training is really about – instilling the mental processes that make for safe driving and riding through developing anticipation, observation, hazard management and planning.

So, two related predictions for you from Mystic MMC…

First, now that speed cameras are (thankfully) history, the anti-car lobby will be stepping up to demand mandatory satellite-controlled, in-vehicle speed limiters. The technology is already there and has been trialled several years ago at Leeds University.

Second, there’ll be a big anti driver and rider education move from the same lobby. Because once they acknowledge that safe driving and riding are more about mental processes than compliance with external, fixed and necessarily arbitrary rules, they’ll need to admit their obsession with limit compliance was a waste of time (at best).

And they’ll be out of a job.

2 thoughts on “Training is bad for you. Apparently.

Add yours

  1. It’s all down to definitions, I suppose. My understanding of training is the same as yours, but if you think of it as purely mechanical skills training, then they may have a point. The most skilled riders (i.e. with the best contol of their machines) as not necessarily the safest. I used to work with a guy who had an early R1 and rode it like he was on a track, all the time. He would regularly reach 160 mph on roads where I would feel 70 was pushing my luck – twisty A-roads and so on. He was obviously highly skilled in one sense (I freely admit that my riding skills, never mind my bottle, wouldn’t allow me to travel half the speeds he did), but I know who I think is the better rider, and who will still be riding in 20 years’ time.

    Training, in the IAM/Bikesafe/RoSPA mould, in an unmitigated good, and shame on the RAC for suggesting otherwise.

    On your other point, I can see a time (well into the future, I hope) where bikes are banned – too individual – and all cars are on tracks and controlled remotely to maximise network capacity, emissions and safety. There will be no accidents, apart from the ones caused by the network operator, and all fun and freedom will be eliminated. The system will control everything, and no-one need have any skills or talents at all. Time for that little black pill when that happens.


  2. Scary article, but I think I can see how this one is going. Education is not needed if there is computer control of the vehicle. You plug in the sat nav with your destination (which is logged) and the car takes you there – why do you need expensive training?

    Although, this won’t mean Bikes will get banned, but without a logged satnav, there won’t be a log of where you are going – so you won’t be allowed to go! It will slowly become too much hassle to have a bike to just go for a spin – especially if your route is not considered necessary (carbon tax will see to that)
    Currently its the useful idiots who are a pain, the ones like the AA who are just saying the right thing in a press release or two to ensure funding for a minor project or other. Politics is such a dirty game, and the main victims are the innocent individualist who just wants to have a little fun at their own expense!


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