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It’s nowtime for the test!
AFTER eight lessons spread over the past two months, came the words I had been longing to hear: “I’m recommending that you apply for the Advanced Driver test,” beamed John Wilkinson, senior observer with the York Group of the Advanced Motorists.
His words came at the end of a slightly different lesson in which I was not the only one being assessed – John was, too.
For sitting in the back was Gordon Smith, another Institute of Advanced Motorists senior observer, who was there primarily to check on John’s performance as an assessor, but also to offer extra pieces of advice to me.
No pressure, then. Two skilled instructors watching my every move, testing my knowledge and passing judgement on how I dealt with various situations.
There were a couple of blips in my performance – namely a three-point turn in which I attempted to “dry steer” (turn the wheel when the car was stationery) and a moment when my mind went blank and I blurted out that the national speed limit for my car on a dual carriageway was 60mph. I quickly corrected myself.
John and Gordon offered lots of good advice regarding the forthcoming test, which suggested that they both thought I was ready, but for the most part of the one-and-a-half hour lesson, it was a case of putting into practice all that I had learned.
One requirement of the learning process was to give a commentary on the drive, indicating not only what I was doing, but also what I could see, what I perceived to be a hazard and what the road signs and markings were telling me.
This commentary process does not come naturally to me, or indeed many drivers, but I eventually found myself blurting out the words with some semblance of a coherent narrative.
Nevermind, the commentary is not a compulsory part of the test.
Advanced driving is the ability to control the position and speed of the vehicle safely, systematically and smoothly, using road and traffic conditions to make reasonable progress unobtrusively, with skill and responsibility. It is this ethos that dominates all assessments.
The skill requires a positive but courteous attitude and a high standard of driving competence based on concentration, effective all-round observation, anticipation and planning.
This must be co-ordinated with good handling skills.
The vehicle should always be at the right place on the road at the right time, travelling at the right speed with the correct gear engaged and can always be stopped safely in the distance that can be seen to be clear.
The final test of whether I can do all this is only a few weeks away.
EVERY Skill for Life course now comes with 12 months’ free RAC roadside and recovery cover, plus:
• An initial assessment with an IAM voluntary observer from your local IAM group
• As many on-road drives with an IAM Observer as you require to achieve “test ready” status
• How To Be A Better Driver guidebook
• Membership of your local IAM group, with invitations to group events
• Full preparation for your Advanced Driving Test
• Your Advanced Test with a qualified examiner
• An IAM Advanced Driving Certificate on passing the test
• Twelve-month membership of the national IAM, which includes the award winning membership
magazine Advanced Driving; access to a host of membership benefits, privileges and discounts; special insurance discounts and policy cover once you have passed
The Skill for Life package costs £139 Contact details
• Institute of Advanced Motorists: iam.org.uk
• York Group of Advanced Motorists: yorkadvancedmotorists.co.uk. Group secretary Clive Tong: 07710 683501or firstname.lastname@example.org