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Is tank commander compulsory in FV432 to drive on the road?


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I was talking to a DVLA instructor who said to me regarding my FV432, "you need someone [in the tank commander cupola] in order to drive it on the road". Is that the case? When I passed my category H test in an FV432 the examiner was not in the vehicle with me - indeed it was just me in the vehicle as it was for all test candidates - so I suspect the DVLA chap who randomly said that to  me this morning is wrong, but thought I would post here and ask if anyone knows the legal answer?

If it makes any difference I have my head out (of course) so 360 degree vision, plus the large convex mirrors to see down the sides and two reversing cameras to see behind fully.

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I went through this with DVLA a few years back when I took my test and trained and hosted folk for theirs.

I contacted the DVLA tech department and the result was that they approved a road registered 432 as a test vehicle with a driver only. The tech department included an ex Army instructor/examiner in fact the examiner that came out to my site was also an ex Army instructor/examiner.

With the correct mirrors etc I see no problem.

Its down to how they judge the vehicle and times change.....

When you think of it the licence does not have a condition for "commander" or "co-driver" and neither does the vehicle registration.

DVLA are approachable and will let you know the current feeling.

Good luck !

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My view is that if you had an accident and did not either have a commander or were under dismounted control, you could be up for Dangerous Driving.  If the prosecution could find a suitable expert witness, say an ex-army master driver who was both AFV trained and a police driving instructor you would be in deep trouble.

The DVSA test is a red herring and would not help you.  The examiner is effectively your dismounted control.

Don't even think about taking a 432 out on the public road on your own because anyone with experience with these matters would say that you are reckless.

John

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That's quite a range of views above. I can't see anything in the legislation but I found the following on Gov.UK "Rules for Test Vehicles": https://www.gov.uk/learning-to-drive-a-tractor-or-specialist-vehicle/rules-for-test-vehicles

I wonder if that is what the DVLA chap was referring to? That page indicates that they consider all military tracked vehicles inappropriate for Category H testing because they allegedly need a second person to help with observation. I wonder how a Badger (which only fits 1 person) is meant to be driven then - perhaps with an observer hanging on the back!

Although it's about vehicle testing I can see where the DVLA chap might then extend that indication to vehicles being driven post-test. Though I wish I knew what that the statement was based on, i.e. legislation or guidance. 

I normally go out with passengers, whether taking neighbours for a trip or the family to the park. However, most budding tank commanders are normally more interested in waving at people than being "help with observation"! : )

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I think the title "vehicle commander" should be "assistant or co-driver"  for as driver you are solely responsible for the vehicle and driving.

The DVLA site mentions "vehicles that need a second person to help with observation, such as military vehicles". Not all military vehicles need that assistance, in fact most don't. 

As  I said previously, my experience was DVLA determining that a 432 did not need a second person and was appropriate.  This may have changed and it is always good to ask, DVLA will talk to you.

Can any person be deemed an observer (or whatever you wish to call the second person), or is a qualification required such as an H licence...

I would say that if you take reasonable precaution, mirrors properly fitted and adjusted, maybe with a rear view camera or whatever and drive with care and consideration. There would be no offence. Speak to a traffic cop if you can and just ask their opinion.

I suppose worst case scenario, if there is an accident, no matter who is to blame, how would things go ?

Ask the relevant authorities the questions you need answered, we can only tell of our own experience and offer opinion and as you know "everyone has one."

 

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My qualification for opining is that I am a qualified HGV driving instructor and a retired major in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers  reserves.  I also have a certain amount of experience with Road Safety legislation.

In the Army, a tracked AFV commander does not necessarily hold an H licence although he will be qualified to command an AFV.   For our purposes, the commander or whatever we call him or her, needs to be competent.  That means that they have sufficient skill and experience to undertake the task in question.  The driver needs to be sure that his or her commander is competent for reasons that I will come onto.

When I dove John D's Cent at Capel, I can assure you that the commander TOLD me when and where to go.  I was confident that he would not tell me to go when it was not safe.  Remember that the road traffic acts apply on the rally field!

There is no need for legislation to say that you need a commander for a particular type of vehicle apart from the need for an "attendant" on certain types of abnormal load.  Dangerous driving is defined as a standard of driving that falls far below that of a safe and competent driver and a safe and competent driver would know that to be the case.  In my opinion, and I am sure that anyone with military experience would agree,  a 'safe and competent' AFV driver would not move an AFV without either a competent commander or competent dismounted control.  Therefore driving without a commander etc would be dangerous driving. 

Of course, I may be wrong, I often am!  It will be interesting to see if anyone with military or Defence experience of AFVs corrects me and puts me back in my box.

John 

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Unless the DVSA reply to me otherwise then (I have emailed them as they don't often answer the phone) I will keep someone with me as tank commander on trips just in case.

I'm puzzled why it could be considered dangerous not to have a commander in an APC though but it's safe to drive HGVs and PCVs without a commander on board? I don't know about the bigger/turreted tanks, but FV432s are not far off driving a loaded van. Having driven both artics and APCs like you John, I find APCs are decidedly easier to maneouvre!

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Having just driven a 432 in rush hour traffic 2 1/2 hours ago, I would love to say that with good mirrors, competence and tolerance, it is perfectly ok.

Unfortunately, it is the awful standard of driving by other road users who are impatient, arrogant, and have absolutely no awareness of what is going on outside their little tin box, that will test your concentration.

A nicely set up 432 with a good driver is perfectly adequate, but having to wear ear protection, a second person in voice contact is welcome

still on topic-was it Guy Martin who did his H test on telly in a 432?

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Interesting thread, some very experienced and well qualified person making comments.

You can do anything you want but when it goes pear shaped due diligence will come into play and having a competent vehicle commander connected by working comms will in most peoples minds be the gold standard of operation.

I don't want this to become a sub atomic hair splitting thread in any way. You will be amazed as to how much more fun you can have with a vehicle commander on board. A good commander will improve your driving skills. There may not be a requirement for one but it is wise, if at all possible, to have one.

Please don't become a headline in a newspaper.

 

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There was a Court Case during the 1960's when a Ferret driven by 2 MOD Civilian staff struck another vehicle when pulling out on to a main road.    The driver tried to claim it was not his fault as his commander had told him to pull out.  The Court disagreed so although still best to have an experienced commander, it will still not protect you from potential liabilty.

Edited by REME 245
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10 hours ago, REME 245 said:

There was a Court Case during the 1960's when a Ferret driven by 2 MOD Civilian staff struck another vehicle when pulling out on to a main road.    The driver tried to claim it was not his fault as his commander had told him to pull out.  The Court disagreed so although still best to have an experienced commander, it will still not protect you from potential liabilty.

Absolutely correct - in the Army the commander is in charge, for civilian drivers the driver is in charge.  That fact was made plain to me when I took my H test.

To the OP - are you asking about when taking your test or just driving about?  They are two different situations.

Andy

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Hi Andy

It's just driving about. Did my test over a decade ago, when tests in FV432s were permitted. 

I often have passengers, but not always. Roads round Norfolk are mostly quite quiet, but I still go by the rule of if a car needs to squeeze past, stop and let the car go round you! 

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