Wednesday, 3 October 2012

New DSA 'CGI' Hazard Perception Test Clip

The Driving Standards Agency have realised an example clip of how the test is likely to appear in the future, moving away from the clips recorded from vehicles to computer-generated clips.

They explain:
DSA has published a new early working example of a computer-generated hazard perception test clip.

The clip has been produced by Jelly - the company that won the contract to update the hazard perception clips. This new example shows what candidates can expect to see in the test.
The updated clips will be part of the theory test from summer 2013.
The scenarios and hazards remain the same but vehicles, fashions and backdrops will have a more modern look.
Over the coming months, DSA will be working closely with Jelly to make sure the new clips will meet quality assurance standards.

Surprisingly realistic and convincing, I think!


Friday, 21 September 2012

Not something you see every day . . .

Every evening, before leaving work, I check one or two web sites:

This gives me an opportunity to see whether my trip home will be easy or not.

So it was with some surprise that, earlier this week, I saw in the traffic news:
"THE A34 is closed in both directions due to an accident involving overturned boat"

And, sure enough, it was!  The local newspaper states that the lorry driver will be prosecuted for failing to secure the load.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Life Imitates Art . . . ?

In one of those weird coincidences, having just posted about the Channel 5 TV series 'Emergency Bikers', having met two of the Birmingham paramedics, a few days ago I became a 'background' extra in a scene (assuming I don't end on the cutting room floor . . . ).  It was also an interesting behind-the-scenes insight into the world of television and, in particular, 'reality TV'.

As anyone who's read Ben Elton's 'Dead Famous' will know, what happens on TV (for the viewer) isn't what happens in front of the camera - it's what the producers and directors decide to let us see. 
My latest bruch with reality TV happened at Mawgan Porth, a small seaside resort in Cornwall, which is about half-way between Newquay and Padstow.  There's not a lot there (one of its main attractions!) apart from (when the tide's out) a vast, sandy, beach.

The approach from either North or South is via steep, winding roads.  The sort where a vehicle with a siren spreads its noise across the whole valley.  In this case a paramedic bike leading a paramedic 4x4 down the hill from the 'Newquay' direction - about from where this view was taken:

View Larger Map

Note, to the right, a narrow bridge with parking just beyond.  Then look to the far left, the lowest cliffs and the most distant white houses.  NB - this is an 'active' image, so clicking/dragging/scrolling etc. will change what you see!

So, everyone on the beach hears the siren, some (like me) look around to see what's arriving, and see bike + 4x4 descending the hill.  They go out of view as they reach the bridge.  We think nothing more of it.  A couple of minutes later, the 4x4 is thundering across the beach.  Well, not strictly true, it was actually going carefully, pciking its way between the 'dunes' [exaggeration] and puddles left by the ebbing tide (the sea is about 1/3 mile out by now).  The 4x4 heads off to the far side of the beach (as described ^ ), where an uneven set of steps descend to the beach - and where the lifeguards truck is parked with its amber beacons flashing.

But now here's the 'TV' bit.  Several minutes later, trudging in full bike leathers and hi-viz, carrying two pannier liner bags of kit, comes the paramedic - in this case Sarah Watson, led by the cameraman leapfrogging to get shots and accompanied (out off shot) by the producer scribbling notes, past all the holidaying members of the public sunning themselves on the beach in August sunshine (really!). 

At least they didn't make her walk back again!

We'll have to wait for the next series to be aired to find out whether a lazing Palmer hits the screen :)


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Birmingham Tourist Trail Celebs!

Although I've been to Birmingham before, it had always been to either the NEC or - just down the road from there - the National Motorcycle Museum.  However, a trip for a meeting allowed a bit of time for sightseeing, and one of those sights (more accurately 'two') were Steve Harris [left in the pic, aka 'Forrest Gump'] and Mark Hayes ['Flymo'] two of the stars of the Channel 5 series 'Emergency Bikers'.

Part of the 'Emergency Bikers' format is that events are video recorded as they happen, with cameras on their bikes and body-worn by the riders.  This 'over the shoulder' view was used by TRL when obtaining 'rider's eye view' video for a project on hazard perception:

Development of a video measure of hazard perception skill and a group discussion based hazard perception training package for motorcyclists


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Lifesaving - There's An App For That!

Practice Hands-only CPR with our app for Android and iPhone.

If you have an Android phone, head to the Android App Market to download it now.

Or head to the iTunes App Store to download the app for your iPhone.

This app was developed and kindly provided by Zoll.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Bronze Sentinels

I've mentioned Greg Bennett before on here; he's a very good friend, actor and writer.

His latest work is now on the Amazon / Kindle book download store:
The Bronze Sentinels

Greg explains . . .

A young traveller boy comes to London to burgle the Queen. Waiting for him is a man who claims to be five centuries old and – thanks to an ancient elixir – ageing only a few days each year.

He represents a secret society of people considered long dead in the normal world, who now live in a dream state. In their deep trance, they have used their combined psychic might to create an extraordinary alternate universe. Our young hero encounters J.R.R. Tolkien, Florence Nightingale and Scott of the Antarctic. He discovers that the Royal Family are actually powerful psychics, asleep in the crypts beneath Windsor Castle...

But an old enemy has an army of ghosts and marionettes massing at their gates. One in every thousand who take the elixir has a terrible negative reaction – and tonight a once great man, now insane, has come to exact his revenge. His name is Charles Dickens…
Intended as a tonic and an exhilirating escape in tough times, it's Harry Potter with a gritty edge. And in this Jubilee year, here's a book that is all about being British...
This is also the ONLY book you will ever find that was written between takes on the sets of the movies "Hugo", "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows" and "The Dark Knight Rises", as well as the TV series "Merlin", "Sherlock", "Torchwood" and "Doctor Who". It is very much written in their spirit...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

DSA / Halfords Driving Test Tie-In

Driving tests could soon be available from branches of Halfords under plans announced today (10 July) by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

As well as using traditional driving test centres, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is looking at working with public and private sector partners to provide driving test premises in selected areas that don’t already have a local test centre.

New approach to test delivery

The DSA has selected Halfords plc as a preferred partner, and is also exploring partnerships with the Fire and Rescue Service and several universities.

In one location the agency also expects to sign an agreement with training company Mantra Learning Ltd.

The scheme focuses on 21 locations, centred around 5 different areas across the country:

• Glasgow

• Kettering

• Manchester

• Watford

• Worcestershire

Starting from autumn

Testing from partner premises in these locations is expected to start from the autumn.

These arrangements apply to practical car tests. Other types of practical tests and theory test centres will not be affected.

Partners will allow the use of their premises at no cost to the DSA. Tests will still be conducted by DSA examiners.

‘Best possible service’

Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning, said:

“It is vital that public services are as open and accessible as possible. This initiative is a great example of how working with partners in the public and private sectors can help to ensure that we offer people the best possible service wherever they live.

“Our aim is to provide all driving test candidates with a local service that is convenient as well as being cost effective.”

David Wild, Halfords CEO, said:

“We want to help motorists wherever we can, so we look forward to working in partnership with the DSA to provide a first class service for drivers taking their tests.”

Info from DSA View this email as a web page

Friday, 2 December 2011

Another Video . . .

This video appeared on the web a while back, then promptly vanished.  Interesting alternative to those Aussie ones.


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Australian Road Safety Videos

The Australians are very good at using the 'blunt' attitudes when creating road safety promotional material.

One classic example was of a banner hung across a race track, advertising a well-known brand of Aussie beer.  Next year the new race sponsor hung a banner in the same place: "If you drink and drive you're a ****".

So here's a selection of road safety ads [warning, if easily offended, etc.]:

'Dirt Racer'


'Small Penis'



Tuesday, 29 November 2011

"Dragons Den" meets "TV Burp"?

A couple of 'new product' videos for you.

The first is a radical new form of cycle lighting, which offsets increased complication with - presumably - increased conspicuity of the bike itself (and so the rider).

They're Revolights; more info:

Arcs of light are formed by LEDs programmed to detect your speed and blink on as they pass the front or rear of the bicycle.

An interesting idea, which I doubt the video does justice to.

The second new product is not Japanese (if Chinese, then "Ni hao" to any Chinese visitors who speak Mandarin.  I don't, that's as far as it goes), and is an interesting 're-invention' of the waterproof oversuit, aimed particularly at scooter riders.  It has numerous unique selling points, none the least the 'commode' option . . .

I know little more than can be gleaned from the video.  This may help a few of you:











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公司Tel:04-26267889 傳真Fax:04-26267600

行動:0931-536738 信箱



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Crash On A Wet Corner, The Easy Way

I don't often travel by bus, but using a 'park and ride' recently included a return bus ticket in the price, so it seemed a waste not to go for a ride. And back. So it was that I stood at the front of the queue waiting for the 'back' bus to arrive. Unfortunately it was raining, heavily. I didn't mind too much, a waterproof coat with hood was keeping out the worst, although I had to feel sorry for groups of riders heading up the hill out of town since most of them had camping gear strapped to the back of their bikes (but not as sorry as I did for the two cyclists, also with camping gear, struggling up the hill). Did I mention it was raining, hard?
Due to a quirk of routing, the 'out of town' bus I was waiting for would actually arrive coming down in towards the town. And what set me thinking was a large Rorschach 'blot' on the road.
It wasn't water - the road was already sodden - but rainbow-coloured oil that had been dripping from the bus's engine, every time the bus had stopped in the same position. A regular route, same bus, same stop, every 15 minutes, drip drip drip . . .
The rainbow stain might be clear to me - but it might not be too obvious from a different angle, to any riders approaching.
I mentioned the road was on a hill, and a fairly steep one at that. An added complication was that just after the bus stop there's a tight right-hand bend.
Not just tight, but off-camber, and with a 'No Entry' junction straight ahead - an awkward hill start for traffic heading uphill.
So to recap: an off-camber, wet, tight, steep downhill, bend, with the likelihood of traffic pulling out and it's on a bus route used by a bus we know is leaking oil. Easy, eh?
No. Let's add a final complication: just around the corner the bus route takes a side turning to the right off the main [wet, steep downhill] road, often stopping to wait for oncoming traffic and so blocking the lane in the process. But of course, unless a rider is a 'local' they probably wouldn't know about the bus route . . .
So a rider could reasonably see:
- Downhill
- Wet
- Corner to right
- Limited view
- Junction to left
- Other traffic
- Adverse camber

How could those aspects affect their planning for the corner?
- Downhill braking requires significantly more effort, and the bike will be likely to increase its speed even with throttle closed or when the brakes are released
- The wet surface reduces grip, and a steamed or smeared visor may be more likely
- The corner is a right-hander. This gives a longer forward view - so the rider might be tempted to enter the corner faster
- The view, even then, is restricted by buildings on the right on the 'inside' of the turn
- Although the junction on the left (what previously would have been a 'straight ahead' for the road) is 'No Entry' for the rider, there's the possibility of traffic emerging - especially if the driver sees an approaching rider slow then move to (the rider's) left and so thinks the rider will be turning off (whether or not they should - the driver may not realise it's a one-way road, as this is a 'tourist' location with plenty of 'lost' drivers). On the other hand, at least the rider has a possible escape route if the driver does pull out!
- The adverse camber adds extra work for the tyres, and will make the bike feel as if it's being 'pushed' out of the corner

All of those are 'physical' problems associated with the corner.  Each problem also brings an additional complication: increased mental pressure on the rider.
How does that pressure make itself felt? Tension, showing as a harder grip on the bars, reluctance to counter-steer, tendency to look down at the surface rather than around the corner, reluctance to drive the bike around the corner, loss of smoothness when using the controls, and panic reactions to any problems - possibly problems which originate from the problems just listed. In other words, the rider is starting to lose control - and this may even be before they've arrived at the start of the bend!
The 'cure' to these mental issues is simple to suggest, but more difficult for the rider to do. The rider must maintain - or regain - control, by either blocking the mental problems or overcoming them.
The problems aren't so much mistakes that the rider makes, but 'just' result from the rider making incorrect decisions on the approach - perhaps because some of the rider’s concentration is already focussing on the possible outcomes rather than working out a plan to deal with them. For example, if the rider has had a small slide in the wet at some time, then that's likely to be remembered when approaching a sharp, downhill, adverse camber, bend!
So what the rider must do is try to plan to stay within the limits imposed by the bike (tyre grip, brakes, etc.), the road (view, road surface shape and condition, and layout), and their own limits.
By their 'own limits', the rider needs to use self-restraint to ride at a speed they can cope with - if there's fear of a slide, which is causing tension, then ride at a slower speed where the tyres have an easier task to manage. Remove (or reduce) the fear of sliding, then the corner will become easier to negotiate as the tension is reduced.
Also, by taking those decisions the rider is using self control - staying in mental control as well as physical. The keys are honesty and realism, seeing the hazards, assessing them, understanding how they affect you, then planning your riding accordingly - and building in a reserve.
I mentioned having earlier seen groups of motorcyclists passing. Beware of peer pressure: just because the rider in front chooses a particular speed, doesn't mean it's the 'right' speed for you too. Ignore, too, the rider behind you're 'holding up'.
As is often the case with riding, the 'secret' of success with the corner is to get as much information as possible - actively search it out - then make the best decisions. The 'secret ingredient' is that honesty and self-restraint. The temptation with cornering is often to decide the fastest possible speed for a corner. Realism and honesty will build in a safety margin too.
On this corner the rider needs to allow for emerging vehicle - so have an escape route planned - and be ready to stop if the road is obstructed just out of sight. Particularly important if double-decker buses stop just around the corner to turn right . . .
Is that enough mental pressure: the bend, junction, wet surface, adverse camber, possible obstruction? Let's add some more: What goes up must come down. Or in this case, if buses are going down the hill, then there's a fair chance they'll be heading up the hill too - and they usually can't get around tight corners without swinging wide. You'll need to add that complication when planning a line through the bend.
Earlier I said that the 'secret ingredient' is honesty and self-restraint. That's on the approach to the corner. When starting to negotiate the bend there's something else you need to do. That nagging voice inside your head saying "Wet road! You've had slides on wet roads - you might crash here!" won't shut up and go away just because you've slowed a bit more. Instead of giving it free rein (or 'rain'), give it something to do to keep it occupied. Singing is a good distraction. Better still: give it something useful to do, like telling you what you should be doing to get smoothly around the corner, and when to do it!
You may have heard the expression PMA - Positive Mental Attitude. PMA doesn't mean you can achieve the impossible (e.g. ‘flying’; however hard you believe you could, you'll never be able to fly more than a few feet forwards, although you may manage some considerable distance downwards). But PMA can focus your attention is on what you want to achieve, rather than concentrating on failure (whether imagined or based on previous experience).
If this sounds odd, then compare a homo sapiens-based, British Standard, biker . . . with a mountain goat. Both are a few thousand feet up the side of a mountain, perched on a small ledge a short way across a sheer drop. The goat's mental process is (probably) "Ooh - grass! I'll jump over an eat it!", while the vastly mentally-superior human being will be looking at the drop, while thinking "Sod that for a game of soldiers!" and concentrating instead on legs turning to jelly while paradoxically managing to be frozen rigid at the same time.
For the goat, the drop could have been inches or miles - it makes no difference as the goat will only decide based whether or not to jump on to the length of the gap and the desire for fresh grass.
Lifting our rider off the ledge, and returning him back to his bike, approaching the bend, he needs to get his 'nagging' mind telling him about the bend [gap] and how to get around it [short jump] rather than the wet surface [the drop].
So the sequence becomes:
- Identify the corner, and all additional problems of wet surface, adverse camber, junction, traffic
- Choose a suitable speed to negotiate the corner, allowing for the downhill 'acceleration' effect, and then reduce the speed to allow a margin (so reducing that mental pressure)
- Slow earlier than you might usually, again this eases that mental pressure
- This gives a 'buffer zone' which allows you to make final adjustments if you need to
- Head and eyes UP! The temptation will be to look at anything which worries you. Resist it! Get the nagging part of your brain reminding you to look as far as you can around the corner, giving you the most time to react to anything you see, and maintain your sense of direction. You'll still be concerned about the wet surface - looking for problems at the limit of vision means you have plenty of time to react rather than a panic reaction to something just a few yards away
- Mentally prepare for likely problems. Being ready to change line for road surface problems, or brake if there's an obstruction, reduces your reaction time. Having a plan ready for these outcomes means you're more likely to do something useful rather than panic and grab at the controls, or 'freezing'.
- Negotiate the corner, using your - now useful - inner voice to help you around. Get it to tell you what you need to do. Keep the worrier too busy to worry!
- Finally, straighten up out of the bend, and smile - you had it planned and it worked as you expected, and even if there had been a problem mid-corner you already had an action planned.
So that's my 'Bus Stop' guide to cornering. According to a couple of motorcycle magazines I read, to achieve perfect cornering all that's required is either a new set of tyres, or a few laps of a roundabout. Who's right? You decide.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Fight or Flight - Is It Enough?

You may well be aware of the principle of 'fight or flight'. If not, here's a quick primer:

The fight-or-flight response (also called the fight-or-flight-or-freeze response, hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon.

His theory states that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the animal for fighting or fleeing. This response was later recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.

Immediate physical reactions associated with a preparation for violent muscular action. These include the following:
- Acceleration of heart and lung action
- Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
- Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops
- General effect on the sphincters of the body
- Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
- Liberation of nutrients (particularly fat and glucose) for muscular action
- Dilation of blood vessels for muscles
- Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation
- Dilation of pupil (mydriasis)
- Relaxation of bladder
- Inhibition of erection
- Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
- Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
- Disinhibition of spinal reflexes
- Shaking

To be honest, you have to be pretty scared to suffer all of those in one go - and incredibly self-aware to recognise all of them (which would tend to suggest you still had mental capacity 'spare' to do something useful about it!).

But the one you're most likely to suffer from is the 'tunnel vision', and the way you'll suffer it is by keeping your concentration on whatever it is you're scared of.

In typical riding terms, this is likely to be an extremely hard object - wall, tree, vehicle - on the outside of the corner you're heading into.

Of course, where you look is - usually - where you go, so with vision firmly locked onto the very object which (if given a choice) you'd definately choose not to hit . . . you hit it. Of course, it's too late for 'flight' (unless it's a low wall), and you can't fight an oncoming vehicle (well, not for long, and not often with much chance of winning).

Keith Code has covered 'survival reactions' thoroughly in Twist of the Wrist 2.

SURVIVAL REACTIONS are the involuntary adjustments your body makes in situations that it feels are dangerous. "The body isn’t smart," says Code. "It’s only interested in right now." Survival reactions are bad. They make you brake too hard, turn in too early, tense up, get tunnel vision, chop the throttle and do a host of other things that interfere with good riding. With practice and skill they can be defeated.

However, I'm not sure that the way it's described there - in particular 'defeating' those reactions - is the best way of thinking about this.

So, perhaps we should 'enlarge' the fight or flight choice?

To me, fight or flight suggests two arrows: one head-on forwards, towards the 'fight', while 'flight' is directly behind us - an impossible task!

Instead, I suggest we had two 'sideways' options, to make a set of four arrows:

We'll call these arrows 'Escape' and 'Evade'.

Any of you who've spent time in the military may recognise the term, as it's used for the training given to aircrew who are likely to be downed behind enemy lines; evade capture and escape from captivity.

For us, as riders, they perhaps give a better idea of how the 'fight or flight' responses can be mastered. We can avoid the situation, or we can evade it getting worse.

Let's return to the corner with the wall/tree/vehicle: on the approach we put the 'avoid' into action by looking and planning, but - more importantly - we also are prepared for likely eventualities (it's not a big secret that tight bends are often followed by a bend the opposite way, that blind corners tighten, or that they can hide oobstructions). Being prepared means you've already taken care of some of the reaction time you'll need. You can even mentally rehearse the actions you'll need to take. If 'it' happens, then those actions go 'live' - you evade the danger.

Fight or flight? Nope, Escape and Evade!


Friday, 12 August 2011

Google Reckons That . . .

Google's journey planner service suggests that I'll be able to complete this trip in 1 hour 47 minutes.
I'm not so sure . . .

I'll get the map book out . . .


Friday, 5 August 2011

Am Dram and the DSA?

Recently I've been to see a couple of amateur dramatics shows, one in a small theatre the other outdoors.
The indoor show was "Dangerous Corner" (appropriate for a road-related blog :) ) by JB Priestly, and presented by the New Era Players.
The outdoor show (alongside the Thames in Reading, on a glorious July evening) was Shakespeare's "The Tempest", presented by the Prospect Players.
Both, as I've said, were by amateurs - but both were superb.

Sadly, though, mid-way between them I had a long talk with the owner of a local bike training centre.  To precis: he's not positive about the future of UK bike training, which is currently reeling from the recession and the effects of the introduction of the Module One off-road test - with the imminent arrival of the EU 3rd Driving Licence Directive to hammer a few more nails in the coffin . . .
There may be a glimmer of hope in that plans - although they've not progressed very far - are in place to take the off-road test elements on-road (although I'm not clear whether that would mean that Module One would be totally removed from the costly MMA sites).  However, this isn't likely to be in place (or any place, IYSWIM) until next year. 
And that on top of some terrible weather they've endured during the last couple of winters, too.
But there may, long term, be even more difficulties on the way for bike
When I first got involved with rider training it was through the RAC/ACU motorcycle training scheme (in those days we trained the motorcycles, not the riders.  While we're on that theme, why have 'railway stations' now become 'train stations'?  OK, it ties with 'bus station', but why the change?)
But back then, in the late 1970s, all civilian rider training (as far as I know) was conducted by amateurs.
The first professional rider training I can remember hearing about (the Southampton Motorcycle Centre, IIRC) was in the very early '80s.
Now, of course, even the few amateur groups remaining are working in a business area where the requirement is for substantial investment in bikes and sites.  There are probably few true amateurs remaining, but many part-time instructors.
It's been no secret that the DSA have been gradually aligning rider trainers with car ADIs.  Years ago there was a suggestion that all CBT instructors must be Cardington-qualified rather than down-trained (which, originally, allowed one 'Cardington' instructor to supervise up to 40 down-trained instructors).
The more recent RPMT (Register of Post-Test Motorcycle traininers) has its entry qualifications based on the ADI accreditation format, and teaching assessments follow the ADI format closely too.

So what's missing?

CPD - Continuing Professional Development.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) can be both formal and informal professional development, based on an individual's needs.

To maximise individual potential and retain credibility within your profession it is essential that you maintain high levels of professional competence.
As a driver trainer you can make a commitment towards professionalism by keeping up to date and continually seeking to improve your knowledge and expertise.
CPD is strongly supported by all the national driving instructor associations. The Driving Standards Agency continues to work with these organisations and other stakeholders to encourage and promote the take-up of CPD.
A structured CPD scheme is one of the options being considered as part of wider proposals to modernise the driver training profession. This would be the subject of public consultation before it could be implemented.

So, if DSA take the bike=car instructor qualification route even further (an noting that commercial vehicle - eg HGV - drivers also now have to take a minimum amount of CPD), then it won't be too long before it's imposed onto rider trainers.  Not ideal for full-timers, but nowhere near as 'good' for the part-timers, who'll have to give up unpaid time (and, presumably, take leave from the 'day job') to take CPD training.

But, in my experience, the 'average' bike instructor isn't that bad, and will be doing the 'job' because they have the interest both in what they're doing and in self-development.  The difference is that any development will have been informal and might not meet any 'mandatory CPD' requirements.
There's also a reasonable point that the bike test pass rate has historically always been higher than the 'car' rate - suggesting that bike instructors might be 'better' anyway :)  Remember, too, a lot of that will have been with amateur instructors . . .

It's a mistake to think that qualified = better, or that amateur = worse.

After all, one of Prospect's amateur actors from a few years ago is now fairly well-know, a certain Kenneth Branagh . . .


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Radios - Can You hear Me?

The use of bike-to-bike radios during rider trainng really only 'took off' after the introduction of CBT.

Since then, radios have improved from the 49MHz sets first used (with a range of about 100 metres line of sight - great when you have one trainee in front, three behind, and the traffic lights change as the convoy is half-way through . . . ) to the widespread availability of the 'PMR446' systems.

Also, there are more 'professional' GMRS radios available (the PMR sets are often little more than 'toys', although there are some more substatial systems on the market, such as the Kenwood systems).

Unfortunately, there is a minor hitch in that those professional and PMR radios have channels that aren't compatible!

However, if you're in the situation where you need to pair-up one of each, it is possible to set the channels to get them talking (and listening).

One example set up is for the TH-3101 (GMRS) <> UBZ-LJ8 (PMR446)

Channel 1 Ch 1 <>  Group Mode 10
Channel 3 Ch 3 <>  Group Mode 13
Channel 5 Ch 4 <>  Group Mode 17
Channel 6 Ch 2 <>  Group Mode 18
Channel 7 Ch 7 <>  Group Mode 19
Channel 8 Ch 5 <>  Group Mode 7
Channel 10 Ch 8 <>  Group Mode 15
Channel 12 Ch 6 <>  Group Mode 6

The GMRS typically has 15 GMRS channels with channel scan and 121 sub-channels/privacy codes (38 conventional QT codes and 83 DQT codes).
PMR has 8 channels, usually with 38 mode codes per channel.