Tips for ADI and learner

Safe and sound: a few suggestions to improve and ADI's safety and security

ADIs deal with members of the public on a daily basis, with little or no knowledge about who they are, apart from they have met the minimum criteria in terms of health and eyesight, have a valid licence and some money to pay for some lessons.

With this in mind, should we be more aware of the issues surrounding our personal safety, including the security of the main tools of our trade? What can we do to avoid, or at the very least, minimise any risk to ourselves or the valuable assets of our businesses?

We often see white vans with notices saying ‘No tools kept in this vehicle overnight’, with additional heavy-duty locks that have been fitted to prevent the opportunist thief from taking the tools of their trade in the middle of the night. So what can ADIs do to keep their main tools of their trade out of harm’s way?

A plastic future

A lot of ADIs still take cash in payment for lessons and anybody thinking of breaking into an ADI’s car will know this. It could be that someone the car thief knows is taking lessons with this ADI and therefore knows typically how much cash there could be at the end of a day, or it could just be a guess, based on the assumption that ADIs take cash and they are prepared to take a chance. So what can ADIs do to minimise this risk?

When leaving your car parked somewhere, whether it is during the day or overnight, common sense tells us to choose wisely. Parking in a quiet and poorly lit area is not a great idea, as you are just making life easier for any opportunist thieves. So choose a location where there are plenty of people around, which is well lit and, if possible, somewhere where there is CCTV.

If you are able to transform your car into a ‘normal’ car once your work is done for the day – by taking off any magnets and the roof sign, if you have one, and putting these in the boot – then this could help prevent your car from being targeted and allow it to blend in with the rest. Savvy car thieves will know what they are looking for here: they will be looking for the other tell-tale signs, such as the ADI badge and the additional mirrors, but doing what you reasonably can could help prevent a headache the next morning.

Do stickers that say ‘No cash left in this vehicle overnight’ or ‘This is a cashless vehicle’ for example actually work? The answer is unless you know there is something worth stealing left inside you will never know unless you have a go and break in. The stickers could be viewed as pretty useless but, on the other hand, do they alternatively suggest to anyone about to break in that they shouldn’t bother, because there is nothing worth nicking?

A lot of ADIs now run their businesses cashlessly, as they have the ability to take card payments in-car. Devices from companies such as WorldPay enable ADIs to take card payments via their smartphones and are more secure than a day’s worth of cash in the car. Getting to the bank to pay your cash in is only more time when you could be training and a chore ADIs could do without. Having a stash of cash at home in between going to the bank is to be avoided as well: if you currently do this then double-check your home insurance policy because some insurers might not cover cash from a break-in.

A lot of ADIs now run their businesses cashlessly, as they have the ability to take card payments in-car. Devices from companies such as WorldPay enable ADIs to take card payments via their smartphones and are more secure than a day’s worth of cash in the car. Getting to the bank to pay your cash in is only more time when you could be training and a chore ADIs could do without. Having a stash of cash at home in between going to the bank is to be avoided as well: if you currently do this then double-check your home insurance policy because some insurers might not cover cash from a break-in.

WorldPay’s card payment solution works together with your smartphone, so anyone can now take debit and credit card payments easily and affordably. It’s fully ‘Pay as you Go’, with no tie-ins or lengthy contracts. Additionally, because it links to a mobile phone, you can take payments pretty much anywhere and at anytime. WorldPay supports Visa and MasterCard and works with iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

The WorldPay device uses chip and pin technology for security, with funds paid straight into your bank account within about four business days. There are going to be the inevitable card transaction fees that are usually associated with these devices, but they don’t need to be too costly.

Lock 'em up

For those ADIs using iPads to take card payments, there are other security measures that you can take when you are away from the car (in the petrol station or walking round the corner to your pupil’s house, for example). Firstly, it should go without saying but remember to put your iPad out of sight and take any valuables with you.

If you choose to leave it in the car for a period of time, then think about using a security device that will prevent an opportunist thief, such as the Kensington SecureBack Security Case for iPad. The case clamps around your iPad and is attached to the car with a rubberised steel cable that you attach to a part of the car that is not going to move. Like anything, if somebody wants to steal something bad enough, they will, but this security device (and others like it) will make things difficult for the thief and will take time they don’t have to try and complete their quick smash and grab.

To watch a YouTube video to demonstrate this device go to youtube.com and type in ‘Kensington SecureBack Security case for iPad’ to watch a demonstration and learn a bit more about it. The security case can be purchased from a number of retailers (including online, at outlets such as Amazon) for about £20, but check whether the security cable is included, as this could be an extra cost.

Through a glass, darkly

Privacy glass is a great safety feature, as it makes the contents of the car hard to see in even the lightest of conditions. At night, or when the light is poor, it is near enough impossible to see into a car with this darkened glass, so if you have inadvertently left your handbag or iPad on the back seat, then chances are it may not be seen and you will get away with it. This time.

The rules for tinted front side windows and windscreens depend on when the vehicle was first used and must conform to strict legal guidelines. There are no restrictions on rear side windows or the rear windscreen, so if your car has privacy glass that came factory-fitted, then that should be OK.

Rules for vehicles that were first used on 1 April 1985 or after this date state that the front windscreen must let at least 75% of light through and the front side windows must let at least 70% of light through. For vehicles first used before 1 April 1985, the front windscreen and front side windows must let at least 70% of light through.* There are penalties for any aftermarket window tints that do not conform to these rules: if the front windows are too heavily tinted, they can impair vision, putting the car’s occupants and other road users at risk.

Smile: you’re on camera

In-car cameras are becoming increasingly popular with ADIs. When training, the ADI and pupil can discuss issues when at the side of the road, with the pressure off. Watching the film, a pupil can see how they dealt with a situation, with the ADI also seeing how s/he dealt with the situation.

 

These cameras are also useful for security, as they can capture problems when the car is on the move. On the downside, it is one more valuable item to have in the car and there is a possibility of theft, if left in the car. The same goes for sat nav units: even if we take them out of our cars there is still the tell-tale circular mark on the windscreen. There are, however, sat nav pads that sit on the dashboard, which is perhaps a better solution – once taken out, there is nothing to say there is, or could be, a sat nav in the car.

Closing doors

Something as simple as locking your doors and not having windows all the way down, especially in the back, will stop items such as handbags and other valuables being snatched from your car whether you are on a lesson or waiting at traffic lights. Some manufacturers have designed their vehicles so the doors automatically lock when you reach a certain speed, but you may well still need to manually lock them when you have just got in.

 

Another safety feature which everyone should make use of if they can is sometimes called ‘anti-hijack mode’. This is when you press the remote to open the car, only the driver’s door will unlock unless you press the unlock button twice. It provides an additional bit of peace of mind, rather than having all the doors unlock when you walk back to the car on your own at night, or a quiet car park. Check your manufacturer’s manual to see if your car has this safety feature and how it can be enabled: it’s usually pretty simple and should take only a few seconds.

A cautionary tale

In December 2013, an ADI was sitting in a stationary, clearly marked-up Ford Focus at Sainsbury’s in Stanwell and was attacked by a man who got into the back seat. The assailant hit the ADI in the head and made him drive for 23 miles, when he told the ADI to stop. This is, fortunately, a rarity, but goes to show what can happen. Most of us would imagine that a busy public place such as a supermarket car park on a Saturday morning was a pretty safe place to be.

 

Sadly, we can never be complacent about our safety. This tale also reinforces the importance of keeping doors locked, in order to stop any ill-intentioned opportunists.

Apart from their personal safety and the security of their possessions, ADIs also have an obligation to keep their pupils safe – not only during lessons, but also at the end, when dropping them off, especially if it is somewhere other than their home. It is quite common for pupils to ask to be dropped off somewhere else, as it fits in with the rest of the day – provided it is practical for the ADI and isn’t miles away from your next lesson, making you late. If a pupil does ask to be dropped off somewhere different that could potentially be considered as unsafe, there is a fine line between interfering and being responsible ADIs.

If the pupil is 17 (a minor in the eyes of the law), it would be best to check with the parents at the start of lessons to establish a designated drop-off point or points, in order to ensure the safety of the pupil. This will be welcomed by parents as the right thing to do and will also give them more confidence in the ADI, especially if lessons take place on a dark winter’s night.

 

 

Tharka Sen A.D.I. for B,BE,C1,C1E,D1,D1E,C,D,CE,DE,PP & ADR

Gurkha School of Motoring

www.GurkhaSchoolofMotoring.co.uk