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Q and A with The Author | Brian M Stratton ADI

What’s the history of the book?
I started writing it in 2014 and it was two years in development. I wanted to make sure it was fully researched and trialled before it was published on 7.1.17.

How was it trialled?
An extensive focus group of people read the book at all stages and provided feedback. The group consisted of the target audience for the book: learner drivers, PDIs, ADIs and the general driving public but it was also keenly read by former examiners and supervising examiners.

What makes the book different from other driving books?
Hundreds of interviews were carried out with drivers of all ages and at all stages of their motoring lives. These interviews were condensed into the book under the headings; ‘Driving Hints and Tips from Other Drivers’, ‘Selfie Advice’ and ‘What Grinds Your Gears’.
This enables a wide range of views to be expressed and makes it very relatable for each reader – there’s that recognition – “Oh, I’m not the only one to do that…” or: “That’s a great idea, I’d never thought of that, I’m going to try that… ”

How did you decide on the title?
I had several working titles in mind, such as Hill Start Blues 2, which was a follow up the the book of the same name which was published in 1990, and Do You Know Your RTC From Your L Plates?
The title 1771 Driving had a ring to it, and people liked the whole concept.
The thing that finally decided it was one Saturday when we drove to Essex via the Dartford crossing. This no longer has toll booths and you have to set up an account and your car is then logged by cameras on each crossing.
When I got the account details – a ten digit number – the final four numbers were 1771. On the same day I withdrew some cash from an ATM and jokingly said: “I’ll just check the serial numbers on these two notes… “, and one of them started with 1771. So that was it. And I still have that note and the Dartford crossing account number.
Various people have put forward their ideas as to why it’s called 1771 Driving. Here are a few of them:

“Was it the year they brought in the driving test?”

“Is that when you were born?”

“That was the year when driving was invented?”

What inspired the cover design?
I wanted the cover design to have some meaning, rather than being just another driving book. The idea with the ‘wheels’ on the front cover  was that they represent  road wheels, the steering wheel and gear wheels. Or as a helicopter view it could a busy road scene with a variety of road users. In the middle of each wheel is a Yin and Yang symbol, and this signifies two elements combining. They each mean something individually, but together there is a completeness greater than the two halves. These two elements could be youth and experience, instructor and pupil, control and judgement, theory and practice.
So the reader can interpret the cover as deeply or as lightly as they wish.

How much thought went into choosing the fine details of the book?
I think it’s important that a book feels  right – it appeals to our senses of sight and touch. It’s got to look and feel right. And the key difference between reading a physical book and something on a phone or tablet is that there is a connection when you read it and it becomes part of your life. Books age well and acquire a patina of wear that reflects the time you spend reading it. You can easily flick back and forth, highlight key paragraphs and even fold corners down.
The cover needs to be durable and hardwearing so I chose a heavyweight card cover with a matt laminate finish. This means it’s resistant to everyday wear and tear and the A5 sized book will fit easily in the door pocket of your car.
The inner pages are coated silk paper, which give a quality finish without bulking up the book too much. The font and size selected – Helvetica Neue 9pt – was chosen for its clarity.
All of these choices were closely scrutinised by the focus group to test for legibility and ease of use.

What was behind the decision not to put diagrams in the book?
I thought about this very carefully and considered it from both sides. The reason I decided not to include diagrams was that – compared to my last driving manual when there was no internet or online world – diagrams, videos and other images are now readily available online. So when a learner driver is reading the book they can access online a huge variety of visual aids. It also encourages self-discovery whereby the learner needs to source a diagram or video and that process in itself can be informative.
Also, when the learner is with their instructor, they will always have a diagram book of some sort to illustrate driving procedures show the pupil.

How do you see learners using it?
Learner drivers can research topics prior to their lessons and prepare themselves for specific skill sets. This can, in turn, enable them to complete the driving syllabus in fewer hours, which can save money.

How do you see PDIs and ADIs using it?
As a companion book to the other titles, Core Competencies Made Even Easier and The ADI Standards Check Essential Information, when preparing for either their Part 3 or Standards Check.
Also, keeping it in the car as a point of reference: a go-to manual when things need to be checked and discussed with pupils.

Can Instructors buy them at a discounted price to sell onto their pupils?
Yes – please enquire for details. Alternatively, instructors can just advise pupils to use this link to order and pay for it at a discounted price.


More information here on the book, Core Competencies Made Even Easier

More information here: on the book, The ADI Standards Check: Essential Information