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Cutting out bad habits
3:21pm Friday 15th June 2012 in Features
Motoring Editor STEVE NELSON continues his journey with the Institute of Advance Motorists towards gaining the Advanced Driver award.
BY the time I had undergone my third and fourth sessions of observation with the Institute of Advanced Drivers, I was beginning to adopt new habits, iron out a few flaws and learn more and more about road craft.
For starters, I was extending my vision of the road ahead – and potential hazards by (pardon the pun) a country mile.
My gear changes also needed to change to build up speed before I selected a higher ratio.
And all the time I was improving the smoothness of my journey.
By now I had with me two observers – one to observe me and the other to check on both me and the observer. That makes for a slightly intimidating drive, as both are quick to pick up on bad habits and offer advice.
Into the mix were journey instructions and the request for a commentary on what I could see and was intending to do as the environments changed.
Mike Ward, sitting in the rear of the car, was keen for me to delay changing to a higher gear until I had built up speed, barking “third” and “fourth” whenever I was tempting to select a respective higher gear.
Clive Tong was scribbling on his pad between offering advice, praising some actions and pointing out the flaws.
I had earlier met 25-year-old Abigail Bowley, who was also hoping to gain her advanced driver spurs through the IAM’s Skill For Life package.
She lost her sister, Samantha, in a road accident 12 years ago, and now finds herself driving 3,000 miles a month in her job as an agronomer.
She began her training with the IAM in March, and since our conversation at the end of May she has become an Advanced Driver.
“It has been fun as well as interesting,” she says, looking back on her training. “All the observers are really good and I have enjoyed being with them all. I thought it would all be very serious, but it’s not.
“What it has done is take my driving to another level. You learn a lot about use of the gears and positioning on the road. I went out with the observers twice a month.
Having different trainers helped because you got different perspectives.”
For the one-off fee of £139, you take as many lessons as the observers think you require before being entered for the Advanced Driver test. It’s a great-value package, but the real value is that you emerge with new driving skills that will not only make you a safer driver but also help you get more enjoyment out of driving.
• Institute of Advanced Motorists: iam.org.uk
• The York Group of Advanced Motorists: yorkadvanced motorists.co.uk
You can phone group secretary Clive Tong on 07710 683501 or email him at yorkgroupsecretary@hotmail. co.uk
Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week: rural roads.
• Always ensure you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear on your own side of the road. This will mean you probably need to slow down approaching bends. Accelerate when you can see through the bend.
• Be aware that vulnerable road-users including cyclists and horses are more likely to use these roads, and give them plenty of space when you do come across them.
• Rural roads can be windy and twisty. Use the line of hedges, trees or telegraph poles to show you which direction the road goes in.
• Drive with extra care past apparently isolated houses and buildings, in case people or vehicles are around.
• Mud on the road may mean that farm vehicles will be moving around. Look out for vehicles emerging from field entrances.