Darren hits the road with new business
Eight people have died in traffic accidents in Bermuda, so far this year, compared to six for the whole of 2020, and seven in 2019.
Tired of seeing friends and family hurt or killed in road traffic accidents, driving instructor Darren Glasford decided enough was enough.
Six months ago he launched Systemized Training & Security Services, a business with a traffic school arm aimed at making better riders and drivers. He runs it with several friends who also have driving instruction training.
Many of his clients are teenagers coming out of Government’s Project Ride driver education programme.
“At this time, Project Ride does not take anyone out on the road at all,” he said. “They conduct theory lessons and ride on a closed course which prepares them for the TCD practical exam.”
Systemized instructor Minton Gilbert said that after taking Project Ride a lot of young people still do not know how to ride on the actual road.
“They are in the deep end,” he said. “They have never dealt with traffic, with hazards such as roundabouts, or one-way streets.”
He felt it was important to teach young people the right way to negotiate the roads, before bad driving habits developed.
Mr Glasford developed the idea for Systemized through Ignite’s business accelerator programme.
“That is where it started,” Mr Glasford said. “Everyone was saying what are you waiting for? This is such a great idea. Every day you pick up the newspaper and there is someone who has had a serious collision, or is in the intensive care unit at the hospital. Last week, we had another person who lost their life.”
Initially, he was just targeting teenagers, but he expanded Systemized to include adults who may be newcomers to the island, or just want to improve their driving skills in bikes, cars or trucks. He does beginner, intermediate and advanced training.
Systemized instructors teach riders how to negotiate bends, the brow of hills, stop signs, roundabouts, junctions, the correct positioning for junctions, and riding positions in traffic. They also take some of their students out on the road to get them familiarised with the landscape.
“A lot of young people spend their childhoods riding around in the back of their parents’ car,” Mr Gilbert said. “When they get out there, they don’t know their way around.”
He said once the seed is planted, young riders tend to grow in the right direction.
“They eventually become better riders and have more respect for the road and take less risks,” he said.
Mr Gilbert said not as many young people ride pedal bikes as they did when he was a child. As a result, today’s new riders, sometimes take a little while to learn to physically ride a cycle. Sometimes parents ask Systemized to take a young rider, before Project Ride starts, just so they don’t embarrass themselves in front of their peers.
“Project Ride expects you should already be able to ride a bike,” Mr Glasford said. “That is very difficult to teach in a group environment at TCD with everything else going on.”
Systemized will take students as young as 15 to prepare them for Project Ride, but can not take them out on the road.
Ultimately, Mr Glasford would like to see further training become mandatory for teens, even if the training does not come from Systemized.
“They should have to complete a certain number of hours on the road before they get their licence,” Mr Glasford said.
Systemized offers one-on-one training, and typically charges $65 an hour. Participants get a certificate for completing a certain number of hours with them.
“How many hours they need with us depends on their skill level, and on what they are trying to do,” Mr Glasford said. “We might have a teenager or adult who comes to us after Project Ride. We might give them two hours, and then provide them and their parents with some feedback. Some people might have trouble with turning, or with judging hazards on the road. It just comes down to the individual.”
Mr Gilbert said the feedback from parents has been positive.
“Sometimes after Project Ride, parents go out behind the kids on the bikes and they are terrified by what they see,” he said. “Once they go out after we work with the student, it is a total transformation. The parents are totally pleased with what they have. With us, the student gets more experience on the road. They become more confident and they are able to perform a lot better.”
Systemized also offers security guard services and training.
For more information see www.systemizedbda.com, or check out Facebook @Systemizedbda, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.