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*** Coronavirus (COVID-19) *** How Survival Skills is approaching the outbreak

LAST UPDATE SUNDAY 15 MARCH I’m sure that you, like me, have been following the news on the CV-19 outbreak here in the UK with some concern over the last few days.

Right now, major sporting events have been unilaterally cancelled by the organisers, and it looks like the government will be introducing emergency laws next week to ban gatherings of over 500 people.

I’ve also been looking to see how other organisations within motorcycle safety are reacting.

I received word that at least one of the Fire and Rescue Services have put non-essential public contact activities on hold from today and have cancelled Biker Down, and I believe that other FRSs are ‘consulting’. A motorcycle safety day I was booked to attend has also been cancelled.

What about the DVSA? They issued guidance to ATBs on Friday 13 March which basically repeated standard government advice to “stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms”. They are also offering a free re-booking service at short notice if either the trainee or the trainer has to cancel because of symptoms. The implication is – as of Friday 13 – unless you know you are ill, business as usual.

One extra piece of sensible advice really should have been added to that:

“If you have recently travelled from anywhere which already has a more serious outbreak of COVID-19 – China, South Korea, the Middle East and Italy are obvious examples – you should be self-isolating for 14 days”.

Although it wasn’t in that guidance, it appears that should a driving examiner test positive, the driving test centre will be closed.

The Driving Instructors Association (DIA) have pointed out that trainers should suspend training too if exposed to a suspected case.

As a trainer, I have a duty of care to my customers and whilst I think it’s important not to over-react, at the same time I do believe we all need to be prepared for rapid changes in the situation.

Right now – and I’m aware that because of the exponential upward trajectory in diagnosed cases this could change rapidly – I believe there is a relatively low risk in going ahead with practical training. It’s an outdoor activity in the open air, and we can stay out of service areas and cafes too. So as it stands today, I think with some simple precautions courses can continue to go ahead with minimal risk to either of us.

If you are looking at taking a course, I’m accepting bookings in two ways:

– booking on a day-by-day basis just a few days ahead

– booking ahead as usual but with a proviso that the course could be cancelled as circumstances change – if we end up following the same path as Italy, the decision could be out of our hands in a couple of weeks. For that reason I WON’T be taking a deposit for any training booked from today.

However, if you have already booked and you are concerned about going ahead, then I’m happy to offer an indefinite postponement – and give you a FREE SEAT on an e-course (see below).

IF AT ANY TIME YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT TAKING A COURSE THAT YOU’VE BOOKED, I’LL POSTPONE FOR AS LONG AS NECESSARY.

With all that in mind, I’m actually working as we speak to put my training back online as an e-course.

I trialled this successfully some years back – many of the people who took it were surprised with just how much they could learn – but the platform I was using was shut down just as I was getting the courses going. Although there are a number of other options, It’s taken an age to find another that was flexible enough for me to use in the same way.

E-learning is an accepted way of delivering skills in many fields, and has been for quite a few years. Because motorcycling is seen as a hands-on skill, many riders really do under-estimate how much learning on any rider training is theoretical…

…and any theory content obviously CAN be delivered remotely – I’m sure you’d agree you can read a book or watch a video, and learn from it, and of course I also provide comprehensive briefing notes and links to videos before any course that tell you not only how the day goes ahead, but also gives you an overview of the course content and how it can be applied.

What’s not so obvious is that we CAN learn practical skills too. If you’ve purchased my book Survival SKILLS (which has had a lot of positive feedback too), you’ll know each section of the book concludes with some simple-to-try practical exercises which allow you to go out and directly try out the theory.

Although I cannot be there to assess the results directly, previous trainees have supplied GoPro footage which can be critiqued. And of course, there’s nothing to stop you booking a practical session after all this has cleared up.

So to sum up. Although I am not suspending practical training immediately, I think it’s sensible that I continually review the situation over the coming days depending on developments.

I hope to have the first module of the e-course up and running by Monday or Tuesday 16 or 17 March. What I’ll do is open up the first module for free, so you can see how you get on with it.

Stay safe out there, everyone!

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