Kiera Woods shares her experience of taking the IAM RoadSmart Advanced driving course.
I am thrilled to say that I have recently passed my Advanced Driving test with IAM Lincolnshire. My observer, Tony Lofts, was fantastic. When I got my first car in August 2019, it had been over three years since I passed my driving test and I had only been driving short distances. I was keen to rebuild my confidence and skills when, at the start of 2020 the opportunity to join IAM Lincolnshire free of charge arose, thanks to the Police and Crime Commissioner initiative. I jumped at the chance.
Although I was initially nervous to have someone judging my driving and directing me across the county, Tony immediately put me at ease, offered support and never seemed to tire of my never-ending stream of questions. The course handbook and IAM RoadSmart advice was helpful and allowed me to understand the theoretical side of the practical skills I was learning.
I had always been a cautious and safe driver but felt that my lack of confidence was, quite literally, holding me back (I was rather slow). Driving with Tony taught me how to anticipate hazards, plan for them and feel more confident on all types of roads, including the dreaded bendy country ones, with huge potholes! Not only did I learn new skills that I now use every time I drive but I also learnt a lot about Lincolnshire and car maintenance, from a real fountain of knowledge! The sessions were always fun, informative, and worthwhile and I will be forever grateful.
As well as IPSGA and pre-drive checks, I learnt key skills including: approaching bends and country roads correctly, parallel and bay parking (I’d been cheating up to this point), consistently being aware of my surroundings and spotting all hazards, gentle braking, and the basics of how cars work. I was also encouraged to revisit the Highway Code, which was very useful due to the four-year gap between passing my theory test and getting a car. However, downloading it as an audiobook for a long journey was a mistake as I can’t say the 3 hours, 17 minutes and 24 seconds went quickly!
To anyone reading this who has not already completed the programme, I can’t recommend IAM Lincolnshire enough. The team give up their own time free of charge to help keep our roads safe, and their knowledge and experience are second to none. Even if you have been driving for years, I can promise you that you will learn something new or realise that there are things you can improve upon.
I now have much more faith in my driving abilities. Passengers have even commented on how much I developed in a short time and how relaxed and in control I am at the wheel. Since starting the course, I have gained a love of driving and haven’t added any new scratches to my collection. Weirdly, posts and kerbs have also stopped jumping out of nowhere and I can suddenly park on my street! Looking back at my run sheet feedback from each week, I can see how far I have come and will always strive to be better and live up to my Advanced Driver status.