The Evolution of 'The System'

What is the System of Car Control, where did it come from and why do we have it?

The System of Car Control certainly isn't a new concept when it comes to advanced driving and has been around in its earliest form since the mid 1930's, initially devised to focus purely at early traffic police officer's driving standards. Despite being in existence for over 80 years it remains the tried and tested method for all emergency response and advanced driver training delivered by the police services across the UK today. It has been adapted by other emergency services, has been accepted as the highest standard of driving by other countries for their police driver training and is what aspiring and seasoned advanced motorists set as their disciplines.

Roadcraft 2020
early roadcraft

In the early 1930's motor vehicles were a rare sight to be seen with only around 2 million vehicles registered in the UK opposed to over 30 million that we have on our roads today. Despite the small number of vehicles the collision and fatality rates were worryingly high. Police drivers were like any other driver in those days with little to no training and who probably hadn't passed a driving test as this did not become law until 1st June 1935 following the first Road Traffic Act 1930 (revised in 1934) passing as legislation. Early records kept by the police showed an accident occurring for every 8000 miles covered by them. The commissioner of The Metropolitan Police at the time, Lord Trenchard deemed this unacceptable and sought advice from a racing car driver of the era Sir Malcolm Campbell to assess police drivers with a view to providing training and improvement initially aimed at traffic officers.

IPSGA

Although improvements in driving standards followed the inputs received from Sir Malcolm Campbell these were not deemed sufficicent by Lord Trenchard so another racing car driver was appointed, Sir Mark Everard Pepys, the sixth Earl of Cottenham as a Civilian Driving Advisor who in 1937 formed The Metropolitan Police's Motor Driving School at Hendon and so was born the early versions of the System of Car Control or 'IPSGA' as it is better known as now-a-days. 

 

The Earl finished his teachings at Hendon in 1938 after 18 months of input forming the standard and advanced wings of the school and the System remained which is still taught to this very day. For many years the System of Car Control was only for police drivers until Jock Taylor, an ex-Hendon instructor wrote a book entitled "Attention All Drivers" based on the notes he'd recorded from the various driving courses he'd delivered. In 1955 this text formed the basis for the first edition of Roadcraft (pictured above) and has since been updated throughout the years and made available to the general public through The Stationary Office.

 

The system aims to make you a better driver by increasing your awareness of your own driving capabilities, improving familiarisation with your vehicle, understanding road traffic conditions and developing hazards with a methodical approach. I look forward to assisting you with the practical application of this and making you the best driver you're capable of becoming.

James Ward NPA DET DERADI Police Adv.(1) RoSPA(Dip) ADI(A)(Fleet)(ORDIT) IQA

Advanced & Emergency Response Driving Consultant

For more information on police driving schools visit Nigel Albright's Pinterest post.

Earl of Cottenham
Sir Mark Everard Pepys
The 6th Earl of Cottenham
roadcraft through the years