Having passed my driving test when I was seventeen years old, four decades ago, it’s fair to say I am an experienced, confident driver. However, I know there is always room for improvement.
After my appointment as CEO at IAM RoadSmart I decided that now was the perfect time to enhance my skills and take my Advanced Driver course. I wanted to experience what our members go through on their journey and be the best driver I can be - every drive offers the chance to learn a bit more.
Since completing the course, I have learnt how to better keep my wits about me and have an increased awareness of other drivers and riders. I check my mirrors even more regularly to ensure I stay clear of the very fast large vans or oversized cars speeding down the outside lane of the motorway. The most memorable lesson which I took away was to be vigilant about speed limits, which are sometimes obscured from view - it helps to know when I need to slow down but also when I can make a bit of safe progress.
After being a train commuter for several years, I’m happy to finally be able to do longer car journeys more frequently. My commute to the IAM RoadSmart office in Welwyn Garden City, for example. I really enjoy driving, although I still tend to be purposeful in the way I drive - for example setting myself clear time targets for a journey and an ETA. My commute is a busy one as I live in a coastal city where traffic congestion and holiday traffic are a constant challenge in getting around easily.
When I am travelling long distances, I like to start early, usually at around 5am to get a head start on the journey. My long-distance driving isn’t restricted to commuting; I have family all over the country and in Scotland so there are plenty of opportunities for long drives, which I love. That said, it’s great when I can keep moving; being stuck in a queue or in stationary traffic on the M25 is probably my least favourite thing about driving.
Whilst I’ve not hopped on one for over thirty years, I hold extremely fond memories of cruising through the countryside without a care in the world. I still get the same thrill from driving but it’s slightly different on four wheels. My favourite thing about driving is the personal space and freedom it gives me to think - and of course be in control of the radio!
It’s a lot busier nowadays, with considerably more delivery drivers out and about. This in turn requires everyone, whether they are a driver, rider, or pedestrian to take more care. Technology also has increased significantly with lots of additional safety features and numerous gadgets; from enhanced and four-wheel drive mode to speed limiters, cruise control and dash cams, to hybrid and electric vehicles. My first car was a manual mini, not too much sophistication and I loved that. Some advice I’d give to my younger driver self would be to look well ahead in anticipating potential hazards and beware of what is happening all around you; be patient and kind in excusing the mistakes of others and beware, ‘e-scooters’ are coming!
Sadly, all too often collisions, crashes and fatalities are caused by poor driving and riding skills. At IAM RoadSmart we are passionate about road safety and committed to reducing these incidents. One fundamental way we can do this is by delivering courses to more drivers and riders - we improve their level of skill, competence and confidence and can genuinely impact on the stubborn statistics.
Our aim is to be inclusive; regardless of age, gender or background - even professional drivers can benefit from advanced driving techniques. The intention is to continue to grow the abilities of all road users for the future and diversify our membership to reflect our society.
Have you been inspired by Tony’s journey? Becoming an Advanced Driver or rider allows you to improve your skills whilst contributing to the overall goal of making the roads safer.
During your Advanced Driver or Rider course, you will explore a whole variety of techniques from the IPSGA framework. The course will also support you in being able to respond pro-actively to situations ahead of time, keeping you and others safe.
Find out more about our Advanced Driver or Rider courses.