Gold standard force volunteer educates on rider safety
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Andy Pearson signed up as a volunteer with the force in November 2020, as UpRight Derbyshire's Media Assistant. He's turned their communications around and helped spread the word about motorcycle safety throughout Derbyshire and beyond.
The Drive Like a Rockstar approved driving instructor, wasn't going to let being furloughed stop him from delivering road safety advice, and volunteered with the force to help in raising awareness around the dangers of riding and the need for drivers to take further training.
UpRight Coordinator Tom Rowlands said: "Andy joined us as a police volunteer to help with the UpRight campaign's media outreach. He's been a revelation and taken us from strength-to-strength over the last year.
"Our message is to do more - more training, more skills on two-wheels and to embrace the want to become a better rider. Andy joined Derbyshire Rospa - Public and after the hurdles that Covid has thrown at him, many miles training and a determination to become an advanced rider, he undertook his assessment last week.
"We're delighted to report that he passed with flying colours, being awarded a GOLD, having tuned his riding skills and showing how he can implement a systematic and defensive approach to riding.
We spoke with Andy about his experiences:
"I’ve been a petrol head for as long as I can remember and I passed my test as soon as I was 17, in 1995. Up to the age of 42, I had no motorbike experience.
"Before gaining my full motorbike licence, my only experience of riding was on my lessons with Derbyshire Motorbike School, so when I saw a BikerDown Derbyshire event, I booked myself on the course immediately. It was here where I met Tom Rowlands, who is as passionate and enthusiastic as I am about motorbikes and we bounced ideas off each other regarding how we can ‘jazz up’ road safety.
"After passing my test in 2019, I got my first motorbike - an SV650S. I was out on the road on my own and I've never felt so vulnerable. It felt like every other road user could, and almost definitely would, kill me at any given point on the ride. I realised that passing the 'L' test on a motorbike was only the starting point of learning and there was no way that I was going to become a statistic!
"Tom made me aware of the UpRight campaign and as soon as I could, I adopted the 'Gear, Training and Attitude' ethos of UpRight and signed up with RoSPA to take the further training that I felt I needed to be a better and safer rider.
"Then, Covid happened and my regular training sessions with RoSPA stopped, so I had to declare my bike as SORN. I decided that stripping it down and servicing it would be a good way to ‘get to know the bike’. I also upgraded to a CB1300, which suited my riding style far more.
"Once RoSPA sessions resumed, I was itching to have my skills benchmark tested against where I was when I started. I felt that my riding had improved to the point of being unrecognisable from where it was when I passed the ‘L’ test.
🏍️ The test
"The test was booked for 24 September. For someone that knows a lot about tests, I still get nervous, but if you’re passionate about something, you should be nervous - it fine tunes all of your senses and gives you your best performance.
"I am aware that I am not a hugely confident rider, due to having less than two-years-experience on 2-wheels, but the result was a very confident GOLD pass.
"For me, taking further training after passing the initial test was a no brainier and the results speak for themselves. My riding is far safer and far more pleasurable for me and for those around me.
"I cannot recommend further training for ANY vehicle enough. There's no reason why KSI’s cannot be greatly reduced if the education and attitude is there.
"During this whole process, I started as a Police Service Volunteer (PSV) as UpRight's Social Media Assistant. I saw an opportunity to join a team that was actively trying to make a difference for the better. Although my role was to keep the Social Media side running, while the police officers did their day-to-day work, I quickly realised that I was lucky enough to play more than just an internet botherer. Very quickly, I was out on the roadside at PopUpRight events, meeting the bikers that we're trying to engage with and actively selling the further training dream and the UpRight ethos.
"It’s great to feel part of a team where my input and opinion is valued and respected. I'm proud to say that I am a PSV and feel incredibly privileged to be part of the UpRight family.
"Now, I hope to complete the IAM test and I am also actively pursuing a role as a volunteer Blood Biker."
To find out more about the UpRight motorcycle safety initiative, please visit the UpRight site.
On behalf of the force we want to say well done on your accreditation and for your help in assisting in protecting the vulnerable road users of Derbyshire.