The Roadcraft system of car control has been used for over 75 years by police drivers. It is an integral part of the Roadcraft driver and rider handbooks, and remains unchanged to this day.
Based on the system of 'right place, right time, right speed and right gear', the Roadcraft system of car control is simple but highly effective.
Originally taught at Hendon Driving School in 1937, it subsequently reduced the Metropolitan Police's accident rate by over two thirds. (See A history of Metropolitan Police Transport and Driver Training, WWR Fleming).
The Roadcraft system of car control
With the growth of the police fleet, Hendon Driving School was established in 1934 to improve police driving and reduce the number of accidents. In 1937 the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police appointed Lord Cottenham, (a well-known racing driver) to train driving instructors in advanced driving. Lord Cottenham's instructions allowed drivers to be in control of any situation they faced; through using an ordered system of car control they could ensure their vehicle was in the right place at the right time, travelling at the right speed and in the correct gear to clear a hazard safely.
Lord Cottenham's notes were later published by a former senior Hendon instructor, Jock Taylor in 1954 under the title Attention All Drivers! and in 1955 it was decided that the public might also benefit from the training. The notes were edited and published by HMSO, appearing for the first time as Roadcraft. It quickly became a bestseller and in time its contents were recognised internationally as the foundation for driver training.
Since 1955, Roadcraft has been developed and updated by leading experts. Several new editions were published between 1960 and 2007, each incorporating changes in legislation and improvements in driving practice while retaining the best of the previous editions. In 1965, the first edition of Motorcycle Roadcraft was published, followed by further editions between 1973 and 1996.
From 1994, the Police Foundation took responsibility for producing Roadcraft, widening the range to include Towing Roadcraft (2000), Fleetcraft (2001) and a DVD edition, Roadcraft: the Police Driver's Course in Advanced Driving (2005).
Find out more about the development of Roadcraft by viewing our Roadcraft timeline.
In 2013 the Police Foundation fully revised and updated Roadcraft and Motorcycle Roadcraft, which now reflect the best of nearly 60 years of evidence-based driving.
We are grateful to Nigel Albright for providing background details on the history of Roadcraft.