My Battle with Essex County Council!
An instructor with a different approach…………..
Tariq is no ordinary driving instructor. Wickford based in Essex, he has over the past 2 years been campaigning to get some of the road sings changed. He runs his own company, Farrah Driver Training ltd. As an advanced driver and coach, I was bemused by the amount of road signs anomalies that were around in my local area. My initial reaction was to get in touch with Department for transport. The response I got was that it was up to individual council’s discretion as to how they went about putting up the road signs.
I then did some research and read Roadcraft, The Signs Manual and The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002. These manuals were quite heavy in assimilating and extracting the relevant information. I then turned to an idea of building a dedicated website and decided to call it essex road signs.org. To further my aim in persuading the council to do something positive, I decided to get in touch with my local ADI group and Advanced motoring group. Any request of this nature has to be sanctioned by the executive committee. Also a collective voice would add more pressure to the local authority concerned. Unfortunately, I got a negative response and no help would be ensuing. I was left to my own devices.
The local paper were quite good in giving my campaign a local coverage. A half a page was dedicated to my story and highlighted the issues. This was back in June 2011. Some six months on, no action had been taken by Essex County Council. This did have a demoralising effect on me. All my hard work and resources would be wasted? I was still determined to pursue this matter. It was a David and Goliath issue here. How could I get the council to listen to my plight and correct the road sings which were in conflict with the guidelines given in the statutory manuals? How can we expect the younger generation of newly qualified drivers to take the road, when there were significant anomalies with some of the road signs?
I then decided that a political intervention was needed. So in December 2011, I contacted my local MP, the Rt Hon Mark Francois. I wrote to my MP explaining what exactly I was trying to achieve and that I would like his support to further my campaign. Without any hesitation, I got a positive reply. My MP wrote to the top brass at Essex County Council and a letter was then sent to my MP. The Councillor agreed with my findings and most importantly would do something about the road signs.
Most of the signs have now been corrected. However, as a road safety practitioner I have found more misleading road signs. As a consequence, I have updated my websitewww.essexroadsigns.org. My local MP has once again intervened on my behalf and the council will now look into the matter and take appropriate actions.
Moral of the Story?
Driving Instructors are also road safety practitioners. We not only teach learners to acquire a full UK driving licence but we also go the extra mile. The road signs come within the remit of the council. For years the wrong signs had been erected and nothing positive was done about it. I changed all this with the help of my MP. I am also grateful to my colleagues for their help and advice. Learning to drive is not about getting inside the car and pressing pedals and gears. It’s about being aware of the environment, planning for hazards ahead and being able to interpret the road signs correctly. One needs to concentrate all the time as we are driving amongst strangers. If we are to have a generation of safe drivers, correct teaching starts form a professional from the beginning and safe attitudes needs to be embedded right from the start. There are no shortcuts in learning how to drive safely and in a responsible manner.