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Abbreviation Meaning
A Licence Category: any size motorcycle, with or without a sidecar or trailer.
A1 Licence Category: a learner motorcycle. More precisely, a motorcycle, either electrically propelled, or which engine capacity is no more than 125cc and net power output no more than 11kW (14.6bhp).
A2 Licence Category: a motorcycle or motorcycle combination, not electrically propelled, with power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.16kW/kg, and (if a solo motorcycle) having net power output no more than 25kW (33bhp). The Category is granted on passing a Category A1 test on a motorcycle with engine capacity exceeding 120cc, and is automatically converted to Category A after being held for two years.
ABD Association of British Drivers.
ADI Driving Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor (Car). A person whose name is held on the DSA's register of such instructors. If payment is to be made for instruction in the driving of a motor car, the person giving the instruction must normally be an ADI.
ANPR Automatic Number Plate Recognition. This is usually achieved by a combination of closed circuit television to take pictures of the vehicle number plates and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to interpret those pictures.
AQMA Air Quality Management Area, established under s83 of the Environment Act 1995. See DTLR Press Notice no 365 (issued 17.8.2001) or the UK National Air Quality Information Archive for more details.
armco Proprietary name for a motorway or motor-racing track crash barrier made of soft steel. An acronym from American Rolling Mill Company.
ARV Armed Response Vehicle.
ASL Advanced Stop Line. See (eg) the Department for Transport's Traffic Advisory Leaflet "08/93: Advanced Stop Lines for Cyclists".
ATB Approved Training Body (a body approved by DSA to provide CBT).
ATS Automatic Traffic Signal(s) (ie traffic lights). Not in common use.
B Licence Category: a light motor car. More precisely, a motor vehicle (not Category A, F, K or P) with MAM not over 3.5 tonnes and fewer than 9 passenger seats. May include trailer with MAM up to 750kg. May include vehicle/trailer combination with combined mass up to 3.5 tonnes if the trailer's MAM does not exceed the vehicle's unladen weight.
B1 Licence Category: a motor tricycle/quadricycle. More precisely, a Category B vehicle with three or four wheels and MAM up to 550kg.
B+E Licence Category: a car and trailer. More precisely, a tractor/trailer combination where the tractor, but not the combination, is Category B.

A unit of pressure, the word having originated in the early 20th century from the Greek "baros", meaning weight. It is defined as equal to 100,000 pascals, and is a unit often used in the context of vehicle tyre pressures. 1 bar is equal to about 14.503773 pound (avoirdupois) force per square inch (or psi). "Standard" atmospheric pressure is usually defined as 1.01325 bars (ie 101.325 millibars) so that 1 bar is equal to about 0.98692327 atmospheres.

BGOL Brake-gear overlap: changing the gear in a road vehicle (with a manual gearbox) whilst adjusting the road speed.
bhp Brake horsepower. The power available at the shaft of an engine, measurable by means of a brake. 1 bhp = 745.7 Watts (= 0.745 kw) = 550 foot pounds per second.
BTEC Business Technology Enterprise Council. A provider of vocational qualifications which merged in 1996 with the University of London Examinations and Assessment Council to form Edexcel.
C Licence Category: a rigid goods vehicle. More precisely, a motor vehicle (not Category D, F, G or H) with MAM over 3.5 tonnes. May include trailer with MAM up to 750kg.
C+E Licence Category: an arctic. More precisely, a tractor/trailer combination where the tractor, but not the combination, is Category C.
C1 Licence Category: a light rigid. More precisely, a Category C vehicle with MAM up to 7.5 tonnes.
C1+E Licence Category: a light arctic. More precisely, a tractor/trailer combination where tractor is Category C1, trailer MAM exceeds 750kg but not the tractor's unladen weight, and combined MAM is not over 12 tonnes.
C&U Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (SI 1078).
category See Licence Category.
CBT Compulsory Basic Training (usually motorcycle). All learner moped and motorcycle riders must complete a CBT course before riding a moped or motorcycle on the road.
check test

A test of the continuing ability of a DSA ADI(Car) to instruct. Some ADIs misunderstand the legal basis of the Check Test. For the avoidance of doubt:

Section 125(5) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 reads: "The entry of a person's name in the register shall be subject to the condition that, so long as his name is in the register, he will, if at any time required to do so by the Registrar, undergo the test prescribed by regulations of continued ability and fitness to give instruction in the driving of motor cars.".

Section 128 reads: "(1) The Registrar may remove the name of a person from the register if he is satisfied that ... he refused to undergo a test such as is mentioned in section 125(5) of this Act, [or ...] he failed to pass such a test, ..."

The regulations prescribed are the Motor Cars (Driving Instruction) Regulations 1989 (Statutory Instrument 1989 No. 2057). Regulation 8(2) reads: "The test shall consist of the attendance of the examiner, while the person is giving instruction to a pupil or pupils.".

CIECA The 'Commission International des Examens de Conduite Automobile' (International Association for Driving Test Organisations) was founded in 1956, and has member organisations from Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Australia and Israel. CIECA has observer status to the Economic Commission for Europe and the United Nations. See CIECA for more details.
CPT Confederation of Passenger Transport UK. The national trade association representing UK bus, coach, light rail and metro operators. Suppliers of goods and services to the industry are also able to become members.
CTA Community Transport Association: a registered charity.
D Licence Category: A PCV. More precisely, a motor vehicle constructed/adapted to carry passengers with more than 8 passenger seats. May include trailer with MAM up to 750kg
D1 Licence Category: A minibus. More precisely, a Category D vehicle with fewer than 17 passenger seats.
D+E Licence Category: A PCV and trailer. More precisely, a tractor/trailer combination where the tractor, but not the combination, is Category D.
D1+E Licence Category: a minibus and trailer. More precisely, a tractor/trailer combination where tractor is Category D1, the trailer (which is not used for the carriage of passengers) MAM exceeds 750kg but not the tractor's unladen weight, and combined MAM is not over 12 tonnes.
DAM DIAmond Advanced Motorists Limited. A wholly owned subsidiary of DIA (the Driving Instructors' Association) DAM offers an advanced driving test, the DAM test.
DAS Direct Access Scheme. A scheme whereby eligible learners (those who have completed CBT within the last three years, do not hold Category A1 entitlement, and are aged 21 or over) are allowed access to Category A on-road training and the L-test. Eligible learners may ride on UK roads under the supervision of a DSA Approved Direct Access Motorcycle Instructor, on another motorcycle, whilst in radio contact. The L-test is on a motorcycle of at least 35kw (46.6Bhp).
derv Diesel Engined Road Vehicle.
DETR (No longer exists.) Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions. Formed on 16.6.1997 by the merger of the Department of Transport and the Department of the Environment, and replaced in 2001 by DTLR and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
DfES Department of Education and Skills.
DfT Department for Transport. Formed in 2002, when the DTLR split.
DIA Driving Instructors' Association. Founded in 1978 to represent the professional driving instructor, DIA's main aims are:
To encourage and promote the interests and welfare of those in professional driver training.
To raise the standard of road user education.
To create an increased awareness of road safety.
Direct Access See DAS, above.
DRL Daytime running light(s).
DSA Driving Standards Agency. An executive agency of DfT, responsible for (amongst other things) L-tests, the ADI register, the LGV instructor register, and supervising CBT.
DTLR (No longer exists.) Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. Formed in 2001 following the break up of DETR into DTLR and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
DVLA Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
DVO Group (Or "DVO group") Driver, Vehicle and Operator Group, a family of executive agencies within DfT having customers and objectives in common, and comprising DSA, DVLA, VCA, and VOSA. A strategy board including the Chief Executives of the DVO organisations is accountable to Ministers for ensuring that collectively they deliver the Government's policies for providing modernised, high quality, "joined up" services to customers.
DVLC Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre, which is in Swansea.
+E In relation to licence Categories, including a trailer with MAM exceeding either 750kg or the trailer's unladen weight.
EC/EEA European Community / European Economic Area. So, as at April 2004, EC/EEA comprises (alphabetically): Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands (Holland), Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. HC Annexe 3 refers to "EC/EEA" when describing the licence to be held by a learner driver's supervisor.
EFAD Emergency Fire Appliance Driver.
ELV The End of Life Vehicles Directive. A draft EU directive dealing with (amongst other things) the recycling of vehicles at the end of their lives. See DTLR Press Notice 432 (issued 10.8.2001) for more information.
ETRTO European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation. Founded in October 1964 but previously, from 1956 to 1964, known as the European Tyre and Wheel Technical Conference (ETWTC).
EuroNCAP (or Euro NCAP) European New Car Assessment Programme. EuroNCAP provides motorists with a realistic, independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe.
EuroRAP European Road Assessment Programme. Sister programme to EuroNCAP, EuroRAP aims to provide a safety rating for roads across Europe, so generating consumer information and giving road engineers and planners benchmarking information on death and serious injury.
EVSC External Vehicle Speed Control. The application of technology (eg GPS and a database of speed limits on all UK roads) to allow the maximum speed of a vehicle to be controlled externally.
F Licence Category: an agricultural tractor.
FDTA Fleet Driver Training Association. This merged on 13.3.2002 with the Fleet Forum to form the FSA.
Fifth wheel The horizontal turntable at the rear of a tractor unit (but ahead of the rear axle) which supports the forepart of the semi-trailer while allowing it to turn freely in the horizontal plane.
FTDI Fleet Training Driver Initiative (a move to establish a register of those approved to provide training of fleet drivers where payment is made for that training).
FPN Fixed Penalty Notice.
FSA Fleet Safety Association. The Forum for the Fleet Risk Management & Driver Training Industry, formed on 13.3.2002 by the merger of the FDTA and the Fleet Forum.
G Licence Category: a road roller.
Gatso A camera which automatically photographs vehicles travelling over a specified speed (as measured by radar). Named after Maurice Gatsonides (14.2.1911-2.12.1999) a Dutch racing driver who built speed measuring devices to monitor his rallying performances.
GEM Guild of Experienced Motorists.
GNVQ General National Vocational Qualification.
grade In relation to ADIs, a number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6) given by DSA to an ADI on a check test (a periodic test of continued ability to instruct). 6 is highest. 1, 2 and 3 are sub-standard.
H Licence Category: a tracked vehicle.
HC The Highway Code.
HGV Heavy Goods Vehicle: generally, a goods vehicle over 7.5 tonnes MAM. This term has been replaced by LGV.
hours of darkness Defined (eg at SI 1994/1519) as the time between half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise. During the hours of darkness, drivers must generally use headlamps other than on well lit non-motorway roads subject to a speed limit not exceeding 30mph. Note that drivers must also normally use front and rear position lamps (ie "sidelights") between sunrise and sunset (ie for the half hour before the start of, and the half hour after the end of, the "hours of darkness").
HPC The High Performance Club (or the High Performance Course run by the Club). The Club aims primarily to develop its members' road driving skills to the highest possible standards, so as to improve their enjoyment and reduce road traffic crashes.
IAM Institute of Advanced Motorists. A registered charity formed in 1956 to improve road safety, primarily by promoting and conducting advanced driving/riding tests.
ICARO Increasing Car Occupancy. A research and development project, partly funded by the EU, investigating ways of increasing car occupancy, for example through designated lanes (and/or preferential parking) for cars with more than one occupant, and through carpool matching services.
IHT The Institution of Highways & Transportation.
ILGVDI Institute of Large Goods Vehicle Driving Instructors.
IMTD Institute of Master Tutors of Driving.
IPSGA Information, Position, Speed, Gear, Acceleration. The five phases of the system of car control as defined in Roadcraft.
IRSO Institute of Road Safety Officers.
IRSTE Institute of Road Safety Training Executives. Details: 020-8665-5751.
K Licence Category: a mowing machine (or pedestrian-controlled motor vehicle).
kph Kilometres per hour. 1kph = 0.621371 miles per hour. 1 mph = 1.609344 kph.
KSI Killed or Seriously Injured. According to "Road Accidents Great Britain: 1998", in the context of the publication of official statistics for road traffic casualties in Great Britain:
"Killed" means
Human casualties who sustained injuries which caused death less than 30 days (before 1954, about two months) after the accident.
"Seriously injured" means
An injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an "in-patient", or any of the following injuries whether or not they are detained in hospital:
internal injuries
severe cuts and lacerations
severe general shock requiring medical treatment
injuries causing death 30 or more days after the incident
Casualties are recorded as serious or slight by the police on the basis of information available a short time after the incident. This may be influenced by whether or not the casualty is hospitalised. Hospitalisation procedures vary regionally.
kw Kilowatt: a measurement of power. 1000 Watts.
LARSOA Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association.
LCV Light Commercial Vehicle. Generally a commercial vehicle within Licence Category C1, having a MAM between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes.
LGV Large Goods Vehicle. Generally, a goods vehicle exceeding 7.5 tonnes MAM). Our understanding is that the term LGV replaced the term HGV as a consequence of the coming into force of the Road Traffic (Driver Licensing and Information Systems) Act 1989.
Light Goods Vehicle. Generally, a goods vehicle with MAM between 3.5-7.5 tonnes).
cicencecategory (licence sub-category) A letter, or combination of letters (eg B, or C+E) denoting the class of vehicles which the holder of that Licence Category is thereby entitled to drive unsupervised on public roads through the UK. A Licence Sub-Category is a Licence Category with a number (eg A2, D1+E) denoting a restriction of entitlement to vehicles in a specified sub-class of that Category.
lighting up time Now known as "Hours of darkness".
MAM Maximum Authorised Mass.
MGW Maximum Gross Weight (old term for a MAM).
MIB Motor Insurance Bureau.
MID Motor Insurance Database. A database established by MIB to help reduce uninsured driving. See Home Office Press Notice no. 206 (issued 12.9.2001) or MIIC for more details.
Midas Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme. Organised by the Community Transport Association (CTA) and intended as a nationally recognised standard for the assessment and training of minibus drivers.
MIDAS Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling. Sometimes (rarely) the "Incident" is incorrectly transcribed as "Incidence".
millibar A unit of pressure, being one thousandth of a bar.
MIIC Motor Insurer's Information Centre (a subsidiary of MIB). Established by the insurance industry to oversee the development and management of the MID. See MIIC for more details.
MIRA Now just "MIRA Ltd", but previously the Motor Industry Research Association. See MIRA.
moped See P.
MoT "Ministry of Transport", which no longer exists, and which activities are now performed by DfT. MoT is often used to mean "MoT test" (the [usually] annual test of a motor vehicle's road-worthiness) or "MoT certificate" (the certificate given on passing an MoT test). Click here for a history of the MoT test.
NDIS National Driver Improvement Scheme (whereby certain people convicted of certain motoring offences may be offered attendance (at their own cost, and as a partial reduction in their sentence) at a scheme aimed to improve their driving.
NSL National Speed Limit.
NVQ National Vocational Qualification (a competence based qualification).
Observer A member of the IAM who is also a member of a local IAM Group and who, as a volunteer through that Group, gives guidance to other Group members to prepare for the IAM's advanced driving or riding test. In the context of a RoADA Group, the term Tutor or Trainer is more common.
ORSA The Occupational Road Safety Alliance, formed on 29.4.2002 by about 40 bodies with an interest in occupational road safety (including employers, trade unions, local authorities, police forces, and trade associations.
OSA (and OSAHS) Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea-Hypopnoea Syndrome). For information, see NHS Direct article.
P Licence Category: a moped. More precisely, a motor vehicle with fewer than four wheels, maximum design speed not exceeding 50 kph, and engine capacity not over 50cc.
pascal The SI unit of pressure, symbol "Pa", named after Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher, and master of prose, born 19.6.1623, died 19.8.1662). It is defined as one newton per square metre. This is equal to about 0.000145037728 psi (so that there are about 6894.757749 pascal in one psi). There are 100,000 pascals in one bar.
PCV Passenger Carrying Vehicle (bus, coach, or minibus).
PDI Police Driving Instructor.
Potential Driving Instructor: one who has passed some, but not all, of the ADI qualifying examinations.
PDS Police Driving School.
pelican (crossing) From Pedestrian Light Controlled (crossing).
PLG Private - Light Goods: a VED class for cars and goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes.
PMRSA Prince Michael (International) Road Safety Award (Scheme).
PNC Police National Computer.
POWER Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber (ie tyres, wipers): suggested minimum daily vehicle checks.
P-plate Provisional plates. For drivers who have recently passed their test. Legal requirement in Northern Ireland.
principal road Principal roads are the highest classification of local authority road. Decisions on their designation are based on whether the road is essential for traffic and whether it occupies a sufficiently important place in the national road system to justify central Government interest in its development.
primary destination/route Primary routes are defined as routes which provide the most satisfactory route for through traffic between places of traffic importance. Places of traffic importance are known as primary destinations.
psi Pounds per square inch (more fully, pounds (avoirdupois) force per square inch). A unit of pressure, still often used in the context of vehicle tyre pressures, though gradually being phased out by the equivalent SI unit, the bar. The psi is equal to about 0.068947577 bar (so that there are about 14.503773 psi in one bar). "Standard" atmospheric pressure is usually defined as 1.01325 bars (ie 101.325 millibars) so that 1 psi is equal to about 0.0680459684 atmospheres.
PSV Public Service Vehicle (bus, minibus or coach).
PTW Powered Two Wheeler (eg motorcycle, scooter or moped).
puffin (crossing) From Pedestrian User-Friendly Intelligent (crossing).
PWR Power-to-weight ratio: the power output of a vehicle divided by its mass. Eg those passing a standard Category A motorcycle L-test may not ride a motorcycle with power-to-weight ratio exceeding 0.16kW/kg for two years (or until passing a Accelerated Access test).
Q-plate. Registration number with Q prefix.
Ramp metering The measurement (metering) of traffic flow on the entry slip roads (ramps) to motorways (or other roads) and on the main carriageway on the approach to the junction. This is generally done with the aim of controlling the entry of traffic (by traffic lights) from the slip road onto the main carriageway, so as to reduce congestion.
RHDTC Road Haulage Distribution and Training Council. On behalf of DfT, RHDTC manage the Large Goods Vehicle Drivers Scheme, which allows those under 21 who are part of the Scheme to drive Large Goods Vehicles below the normal minimum age of 21.
ROMANSE Road MANagement System for Europe.
Roadcraft The police driving manual.
RoSPA The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Europe's largest safety organisation, founded in 1917. Under RoSPA's wing is RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders (RoADAR) (until 31.12.2005 known as the RoSPA Advanced Drivers' Association, RoSPA ADA, sometime abbreviated to RoADA) promoting advanced driving, and offering an advanced driving test.
RSO Road Safety Officer.
RTA Road Traffic Accident. RTC is becoming more "popular".
RTC Road Traffic Collision or Road Traffic Crash (nowadays replacing the older term RTA).
SAFED Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving. A scheme developed with sponsorship from DfT which achieved average fuel savings of about 6% in its pilot. See GPG2100 for more information.
SE(ADI) Supervising Examiner (ADI). The person who (amongst other things) conducts tests for those wishing to qualify as ADIs, or to remain on the register of ADIs ("Check Test").
semi trailer A trailer with coupling designed to be superimposed on the tractor unit (usually by means of the fifth wheel.
SI (or SI system) An international system of units. Also called "Si System", or "French Système International D'unités". It is an international decimal system of weights and measures derived from and extending the metric system of units, and was adopted by the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1960. It is abbreviated SI in all languages.
SJA St. John Ambulance.
SMMT The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited.
SORN Statutory Off-Road Notification.
statutory instrument A regulation made usually by Parliament, usually pursuant to an Act. Eg, see C&U.
stinger A device thrown across a road just before the approach of a vehicle to be apprehended. Hollow spikes on the Stinger's frame pierce, and lodge in, the tyres, causing a slow deflation. The Stinger is pulled back in immediately the vehicle has passed.
sub-category See Licence category.
SUV Sport Utility Vehicle.
Tachograph An automatic recording of vehicle speed, distance and other information. Generally required in LGVs and PCVs by EC law.
TAN (No longer exists.) Traffic Area Network. This was once an Executive Agency of DfT. On 1.4.2003, it merged with VI to become VOSA.
toucan "Two can": a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.
TPFT Third Party, Fire and Theft. Generally, insurance against claims by third parties (ie someone else, perhaps because you drove into them or their property) or loss or damage of the vehicle through fire or theft.
TRL Transport Research Laboratory (previously known as TRRL, the Transport Road Research Laboratory).
Unitary test An L-test.
UTMC Urban Traffic Management and Control. DETR Press Notice no. 745, issued 5.12.2000, explained "UTMC funds will assist four Local Authorities ... to meet the challenge of developing full-scale, multifunctional systems that will demonstrate the capabilities and benefits of UTMC as an integrated traffic management framework. The demonstrators will be developed in Reading, Preston, Warwickshire and York".
V5 Vehicle Registration Document.
VASCAR Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder. A device to measure vehicle speeds, used especially by traffic police.
VCA Vehicle Certification Agency, the UK approval authority for the type approval of motor vehicles and components.
VED Vehicle Excise Duty (sometimes know as road tax).
VI (No longer exists.) Vehicle Inspectorate. This was once an Executive Agency of DfT. On 1.4.2003, it merged with the TAN to become VOSA.
Vocational licence Usually, a driving licence in category C or D (including C1, D1, C1+E, D1+E, C+E, D+E). So, referring to driving as a vocation, or career/occupation.
VOSA Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, formed on 1.4.2003 by the merger of VI and TAN.
VSL Variable Speed Limit(s).
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