As chauffeurs are paid to drive important and rich people around in expensive cars, it’s reasonable to assume that the 'Law of Supply and Demand' will ensure that only the very best survive.
Their role is to drive smoothly, quickly, and accurately to shrink the irksome business of moving from A to B via a congested road network that’s clogged with amateurs. Arrogant? Perhaps, but let’s look at some of their secrets to see if there is anything we can learn from them, shall we?
A good chauffeur will plan the forthcoming journey in detail, looking at possible pinch points, traffic jams, and toll roads. They will calculate how long the journey will take and allow a little extra for unforeseen problems.
They will also give their car a quick health check before setting out and keep a few essentials in the boot in case they hit a problem.
None of this is exactly rocket science, but how many times have you set off on a long journey with only a vague idea of where you are going and the low-fuel warning light flashing?
Think you're above the law? 10 motoring laws people ignore or forget
2. Have a Plan B
When you’re planning your route, it’s always worth developing a Plan B.
As an example, living in North Wales, I have to drive along the Birmingham stretch of the M6 far more frequently than anyone should have to. As it’s notorious for its long-running roadworks and associated traffic jams, I always check how bad it is before I leave using Google maps.
If the delay is too long, then I’ll go another way. However, it is sometimes clear when I leave but changes as I get closer; by having planned an alternative route before leaving home I can divert without too much hassle, saving me time, money and stress.
A Plan B works for everyday driving too: what would you do if the lorry in front of you shed its load? Or a tractor pulled out of that field? Or the dog on the pavement suddenly dashed out into the road? By processing this information and having a plan to deal with it, you will be able to avoid a significant number of otherwise potentially dangerous situations.
The police claim that by using Roadcraft, their system of advanced driving, accidents can be completely avoided. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, but the principle that most of them can be is sound.
Is your car spying on you?
3. Looking ahead
Chauffeurs will look much, much further ahead than most drivers, enabling them to spot problems well before everyone else.
This means that they can change lanes in plenty of time, keeping up their average speed and avoiding the sort of last-minute lane changes that cause accidents and annoy other motorists.
The key is to look as far ahead as you can, scanning back all the way to the car in front. This is a constant cycle – interspersed with frequent mirror and instrument checks – that becomes second nature very quickly.
Six tips for surviving long car journeys
The one quality that just about every passenger notices when he or she is being driven by a top-flight chauffeur is how smooth the journey is. This is partly a function of the driver looking so far ahead and being able to avoid last-second emergency avoidance but also a reflection of their driving technique.
The best chauffeurs will ease on and off the throttle and steer the car into bends with small, gentle movements of the steering wheel to avoid upsetting the car’s composure.
The very best will also feather the brakes as they come to a halt, releasing the pressure as the car finally stops, enabling their passengers to continue sipping champagne without spilling a drop on the butter-soft leather seats. This last tip is well worth practicing, even if, like mine, your passengers are more likely to be drinking coffee out of a flask!
Six things car dealers don't want you to know
Finally, chauffeurs are less prone to being distracted than you and I. While I’m not suggesting for a moment that you spend every journey is stony-faced silence, staying focused can be a great trick to adopt.
If you refuse to get drawn into others’ bad driving, for example, you will stay stress-free and calm.
When a chauffeur is cut-up by a sales executive in their repmobile he or she will stay calm and focus on the job in hand, which is getting their client to the final destination as quietly and unobtrusively as they can. They certainly wouldn’t gesticulate and use good Anglo-Saxon language to critique the other driver’s incompetence, would they?
||If you enjoy Carlton's inimitable style of writing, you'll love his motoring column - to have each one delivered straight to your door every month, subscribe to Saga Magazine today!
Next article: Three things you can do to become a better driver >>>