Driving Logs

I started keeping these a few years back. I had a number of regular business drives to and from home: Stockport, Rugby, Newcastle, Leeds, Brighton, Cardiff, London, Milton Keynes amongst them. For many I had alternate routes in case of problems or just to ring the changes and offset boredom, and I could tell to within a few minutes when I would be home depending on the time of day. The Berkshire Belle would usually comment “one minute late” or similar as I walked through the door virtually spot on the ETA I’d given her three hours or so earlier.

One evening I was sat in a hotel room bored rigid and began to produce a route card for each of my journeys, playing in my head the traffic at differing times of day and working our when I would pass certain waypoints. This was how I knew how I was doing on the drive, something that I had picked up on in conversation with, and reading about, train drivers. Bill Hoole, legendary express driver on routes to and from Kings Cross in the 1950s, didn’t carry a watch, but checked time on the station clocks as he passed and apparently had an innate sense of rhythm that enabled him to keep to time on his runs. I heard similar theory from a suburban train driver running in and out of Fenchurch Street on the high intensity rush hour commuter services.

So my jottings that evening got transferred onto the laptop and I printed off logs showing my estimate and with a column for actual timing. This I would clip on to my pilot’s kneeboard and mark up my runs for adding to the laptop later. It would keep me interested over a long drive and gave me something to compare with the mental computations that I had done for years (and still do).

In late 2002 my new Freelander was due and the family bought me a satnav. Like any tool these are only as good as the user and my main frustration with the early ones was that they couldn’t think out an alternative route, and some of the route that they would suggest were not too clever given my experience of driving those roads, but I would enjoy watching how the satnav ETA would differ from my own and how often it was mine that would be right. That was experience, and something that the satnav could never benefit from.

A change of laptop in 2006 saw the IT people wipe all of my files by accident and the driving logs, as a personal file, had never been backed up on to the work server, so I lost about 6 years worth of records and didn’t bother to start again, I had the basics in my head after all.

But when I started  out in my own business I had need to go over to the Essex/Herts border a few times and one day decided to log it. That led to a few more and I’ve been keeping them on and off since.

My method is slightly different now in that I had a digital voice recorder on a lanyard. It is voice activated and I use it to record any thoughts that come up, but also to note the time as I start, pass certain points and arrive. I note the mileage on starting and finishing and at some way points when it is safe to look, other wise the mileage is worked out from Autoroute and adjusted if, say, the total mileage differs.

Taking my time from the dashboard clock may make it a little granular in that 06:51 will be recorded when it may actually be 06:51:59 and 0652 would therefore be more accurate; I can only call what I see when I look and I don’t worry too much. These logs are for amusement rather than anything else.

Motorway junctions and service areas are clocked as I pass the centre of them. When joining a new road I take the time at the point that I enter the new road (as near as I can as my attention is on traffic and not the clock).

Speed is calculated in mph as cumulative throughout the journey rather than between waypoints, but the numbers are there if anyone wants to work that out. I still use mph rather than kph (although when I use the satnav that is set to kilometres as my preferred unit to try and get me into thinking metric for distance).

At the moment I don’t attempt to calculate fuel consumption by trip, although I do keep an overall record.

If you are interested, click on the Driving Logs link in the category cloud at the bottom left of the page.

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