Just mention the brothers Bo and Luke Duke and thousands of seventies kids will picture a souped-up orange Dodge Challenger car called the 'General Lee' roaring over dirt tracks before flying 40 feet through the air.
If you have not twigged by now, you were never a fan of the Dukes of Hazard. Each week, the good old boys would leap into the General Lee – always through the windows – and enthral us with the fanciest driving seen before the 9 o'clock watershed.
How many times did Bo and Luke escape by reversing at break-neck speed and spinning the General Lee 180 degrees to drive off into safety? It is a scene repeated ad nauseam in thousands of car chases on screens big and small.
Surprisingly, these dare-devil stunts are not so dare-devil – reversing at 50mph or spinning the car 180 degrees at 30 mph can take just an afternoon to learn. These are among the essential skills that the Control Risk Group teaches on its intensive driving course. The programme not only reveals those bad habits you pick up in ordinary day-to-day driving, but also teaches you how to avoid a car-jacking when working abroad.
As the driving course instructor, Alan Fleury, explains: "People in this country are taught how to pass a test, but this course teaches them how to drive properly."
There can be few better tutors. Alan served in the Metropolitan Police for 35 years, retiring in the rank of Chief Inspector. Much of his service was spent at the Police Driving School at Hendon where he became Chief Instructor and Assistant Commandant, but he also had a five-year stint as driver for the Royal Family.
Most of the two-day course deals with defensive driving, which boils down to a lesson in making good driving simple and obvious. Even the most accomplished drivers have horrendous faults, such as approaching a corner without giving themselves the widest possible view of the road ahead or failing to keep the car balanced so that a cigarette lighter on the dash board will not topple over.
But perhaps the most telling lesson is about awareness, laid bare by a 15-minute running commentary that sounds something like Peter O'Sullivan gabbling about a horse race: 'blue car behind with registration number XXX, woman pushing pram on left, slip road on the right, white van overtaking in front etc'.
By the afternoon of day two, Alan lets you slip on an airfield in Essex when the course switches from defensive to offensive driving. This portion of the course is targeted at the businessman working abroad.
Kidnappings in foreign climes reached a record 1,789 in 1999 and have increased 70% over the past decade – fueled by a potent mix of political unrest, lawlessness and poverty.
'Car-jacking' is one of the most popular ways of kidnapping someone because the drivers' route is often the same and they can be easily ambushed.
You may never need use it at Tesco, but if you are reversing at 30mph and want to u-turn, simply spin the wheel using the right technique and the car will safely screech around. Slip the car into first without touching the brakes, and hey presto, you're Bo Duke.
By the end of two days, the course has given you both a lesson in safe driving and a valuable insight into the skills of a professional chauffeur.
"Much of this course is about giving the driver confidence in his own ability to look ahead, spot trouble and get out of it," says CRG spokesperson Nicola Hudson. "But it is also popular with businessmen going abroad. They may not have cheaper kidnap and ransom policies but they feel much safer."
Control Risk Group
CRG is a leading specialist international business risk consultancy. It operates in four specialist areas: political and security risk analysis, confidential investigations, security consultancy, and crisis management and response. CRG was founded in 1975 and has now worked with more than 3,500 blue-chip clients in over 130 countries.