A blog from Army&You’s summer 2023 edition by Karen.

As part of the training package for my husband’s next role as a Defence Attaché, I was given the opportunity to attend a course which included defensive driving techniques at the Defence School of Transport in Leconfield, East Yorkshire.

Despite having survived three years without incident on the roads of Kuwait, I was keen to take up the chance to improve my driving and learn new skills.

The first day of our training package was classroom based. Led by an engaging group of instructors, we were taken through the theory of ‘road craft’, which gives you the skills to increase your awareness of factors that can affect your driving and so make you a safer driver.

We learnt how to recognise and anticipate hazards, and plan our driving, to give ourselves more time to react to complex situations. Despite having been driving from the age of 17, it was a serious reminder of the importance of thinking ahead when behind a wheel.

One whole day was spent driving around the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. Whilst one of us practised our map reading and navigation skills, the other drove.

From Scarborough, to the highest pub in Britain, the Tan Hill Inn, we were put through our paces along a variety of different roads, with our instructors giving advice on how we could improve our road positioning and hazard awareness.

It was a tiring day and we welcomed our breaks along the way, especially at the Wensleydale Creamery, where we stocked up on cheeses to take home!

Back at Leconfield we had lessons in safety awareness and practical training in wheel changing, vehicle recovery and towing, the latter two being completely new to me. Without the comfort of having the RAC on call at our new posting, I’m now confident I could get myself to a garage in the event of a breakdown in the middle of nowhere!

The most challenging and fun part of the course was the off-road element. We were taught how to survey the ground and the best way to prepare a vehicle for going off the beaten track – through rivers, down steep banks, and over rocky terrain. It’s amazing what a 4×4 can do!

A big thank you to all the team at Leconfield for their patience and good humour. I’m now putting my road craft skills into practice every time I get behind the wheel – and have added a 4×4 with a winch to my wish list – a girl can dream, can’t she?!

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