We road test police and fire service's unique new mosque driving safety course

The Bolton News: A fashionably low driving seat had Miranda Newey struggling to see the speedometer A fashionably low driving seat had Miranda Newey struggling to see the speedometer

FOLLOWING the launch of a safety campaign to reduce the number of irresponsible motorists on Bolton’s roads, crime reporter Miranda Newey put her own driving skills to the test

A HARD hitting awareness campaign has been launched by the fire service, police, Bolton Council and Bolton Council of Mosques to help turn potentially bad drivers into good ones behind the wheel.

Over the course of the next few months, the campaign will go to five mosques in Bolton.

They will involve firefighters demonstrating how they cut a trapped person out of a car, a police quiz on motoring offences resulting from a car not being properly maintained and a simulator which will show people what driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is like.

The scheme was prompted by two “racing” drivers who crashed in St Helens Road, Daubhill, leaving a 12-year-old boy and a market trader with serious injuries.

The crash, last July, left 11 people injured.

The following month another crash happened in Blackburn Road, Astley Bridge, in which high performance cars were involved and people were injured.

Having completed an advanced driving course and clocking up more than 12,000 miles a year in my car, I would class myself as a fairly confident driver — and I thought I would put myself to the test.

But being too confident is not always a good thing and after putting my skills to the test on the simulator I was in for a rude awakening.

My first challenge was to see the 10 driving offences on a Renault Clio. Spotting no seatbelt, a flat tyre, a broken wing mirror and tinted windows had me sailing to nearly full marks.

But fancy illegal number plates, where people try to create numbers or letters by placing coloured screws in the plates, nearly had me duped.

Pleased with my performance at the first hurdle, I settled into the simulator’s driving seat for the next challenge.

With an audience watching a screen showing my driving, I felt under pressure.

The first “drive” measured my ability to drive while using a hands-free mobile phone. As I tried to focus on the road, I was distracted by text messages flashing up on the screen asking me questions and demanding quick replies.

I tried to ignore the interference from the phone as I realised it was distracting me and was causing me to veer towards the centre of the road and almost into the path of what was, thankfully, only an oncoming digital car.

Not being able to see properly over the steering wheel also caused no end of problems as I kept breaking the 30mph speed limit — as my short height, combined with sitting in a boy racer “dipped seat” meant I could only see when the car was travelling at 40mph or above — not a safe combination.

Seeing my pitiful driving scores flash before me shocked me into thinking twice about using a hands-free device.

Playbacks of my driving showed me driving in a straight line then, as a message appeared, I verged sharply to the left and right.

The next challenge was an insight into what impact four glasses of wine would have on my driving.

It started off like every other drive and I was starting to wonder whether the simulator was sending out the right message on the screen.

But within seconds I was starting to feel dizzy from seeing my car struggle to keep in one lane of an imaginary motorway.

As I tried to keep control, I felt like I was jerking from one side of the road to the other, narrowly missing passing cars.

I can only describe the experience as driving on very bad ice, where you have no idea what will happen and just hope you come out of it in once piece.

All in all it was not a pleasant experience and one I do not intend to repeat, either in a simulator or in my own car.

The awareness course certainly knocked my confidence in my driving and has made me think twice about ramping up the volume on my Girls Aloud Greatest Hits CD while negotiating the roads ahead.

Phone calls to my family and friends can now also wait a bit longer, rather than multi-tasking and dicing with death on busy roads.

The next community driving event will be held at the Masjid Noor ul Islam Mosque in Prospect Street, Halliwell, on March 21. Residents are encouraged to attend.

Comments (10)

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2:47pm Wed 26 Feb 14

Jim271 says...

Can anyone attend or is it a Mosque members only event?
Can anyone attend or is it a Mosque members only event? Jim271

6:15pm Wed 26 Feb 14

thomas222 says...

If that machine was only going to five Christian Church youth clubs that would be shouted down as unfair.
If that machine was only going to five Christian Church youth clubs that would be shouted down as unfair. thomas222

8:42pm Wed 26 Feb 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

I cannot understand why people in mosques need training to drive they should learn this to pass a driving test if they cannot drive they should not have a license simple as that to my knowledge once you are 17 you get a license start lessons then have theory test and then a practical to prove your competent behind the wheel this should be enough!
I cannot understand why people in mosques need training to drive they should learn this to pass a driving test if they cannot drive they should not have a license simple as that to my knowledge once you are 17 you get a license start lessons then have theory test and then a practical to prove your competent behind the wheel this should be enough! steverock6@sky.com

8:42pm Wed 26 Feb 14

Citizen Cane says...

Is this article implying that mosque goers are such irresponsible motorists that public money should be spent on targeting education campaigns at them? That seems very unfair.
Is this article implying that mosque goers are such irresponsible motorists that public money should be spent on targeting education campaigns at them? That seems very unfair. Citizen Cane

10:30pm Wed 26 Feb 14

Lesmathes17 says...

Can taxi drivers attend these sessions?
Can taxi drivers attend these sessions? Lesmathes17

8:37am Thu 27 Feb 14

Besmart says...

Anyone can attend the events. They have been located at mosques as it was the council of mosques who have recognised a problem of speed around Bolton and they have asked for them to be at mosques. It's a great example of people in the community trying to protect their community!
Anyone can attend the events. They have been located at mosques as it was the council of mosques who have recognised a problem of speed around Bolton and they have asked for them to be at mosques. It's a great example of people in the community trying to protect their community! Besmart

9:45am Thu 27 Feb 14

Wolfie190 says...

steverock6@sky.com wrote:
I cannot understand why people in mosques need training to drive they should learn this to pass a driving test if they cannot drive they should not have a license simple as that to my knowledge once you are 17 you get a license start lessons then have theory test and then a practical to prove your competent behind the wheel this should be enough!
Not when 20 people share the same driving licence and insurance.
[quote][p][bold]steverock6@sky.com[/bold] wrote: I cannot understand why people in mosques need training to drive they should learn this to pass a driving test if they cannot drive they should not have a license simple as that to my knowledge once you are 17 you get a license start lessons then have theory test and then a practical to prove your competent behind the wheel this should be enough![/p][/quote]Not when 20 people share the same driving licence and insurance. Wolfie190

9:53am Thu 27 Feb 14

marco999 says...

What a ridiculous waste of time. It is not about driving skills, it's about driving attitudes and as far as I'm aware there is no simulator to help change that. A lot of these young men have the attitude that they can do as they please and that the normal rules of the highway code don't apply to them - it's this attitude that needs to change before accidents are reduced - there is no skill involved with taking your foot off the accelerator.
What a ridiculous waste of time. It is not about driving skills, it's about driving attitudes and as far as I'm aware there is no simulator to help change that. A lot of these young men have the attitude that they can do as they please and that the normal rules of the highway code don't apply to them - it's this attitude that needs to change before accidents are reduced - there is no skill involved with taking your foot off the accelerator. marco999

11:46am Thu 27 Feb 14

Jim271 says...

Most of the vehicles are registered to owners abroad, that's why they park on double yellows and drive down bus lanes because the council know its not worth chasing the fines.

Plus you never see any traffic wardens at the bottom of Halliwell Road thanks to Councillor Zahman protecting his voters,
Most of the vehicles are registered to owners abroad, that's why they park on double yellows and drive down bus lanes because the council know its not worth chasing the fines. Plus you never see any traffic wardens at the bottom of Halliwell Road thanks to Councillor Zahman protecting his voters, Jim271

2:00pm Thu 27 Feb 14

danssoncabaret says...

Citizen Cane wrote:
Is this article implying that mosque goers are such irresponsible motorists that public money should be spent on targeting education campaigns at them? That seems very unfair.
I have been reversed into by a lady wearing a full burka at Bolton Hospital and she held her hands in the air like it was my fault and drove off before I could obtain her details. Women should not be allowed to drive wearing the burka. Education, education, education!
[quote][p][bold]Citizen Cane[/bold] wrote: Is this article implying that mosque goers are such irresponsible motorists that public money should be spent on targeting education campaigns at them? That seems very unfair.[/p][/quote]I have been reversed into by a lady wearing a full burka at Bolton Hospital and she held her hands in the air like it was my fault and drove off before I could obtain her details. Women should not be allowed to drive wearing the burka. Education, education, education! danssoncabaret

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