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Roger and Ali

I wasn’t the most confident, but that soon changed!

My brother had always said I was an awful driver, so when he saw IAM RoadSmart were offering discounted Advanced Driver Courses through a promotional offer, he bought me one as a gift.

I was apprehensive at first, but having bought a new car and accepting my driving wasn’t always as good as it could be, I knew it was just the thing I needed. Although I’d never had any accidents, I wasn’t the most confident driver – but that soon changed!
First, I received my handbook which introduced me to the course and things to work on. The book is clear and easy to understand, set out in different ‘competencies’ focusing on the driver and all aspects of driving itself.

Next came my first observed drive with Trevor, a National Observer from IAM Lincolnshire. After a briefing, we set off and Trevor commented on aspects of my driving – the good and the bad! He asked me to plan further ahead; look as far as I could see and scan back switching my eyes between ‘main beam’ and ‘dipped beam’. This early tip is one of the best things I picked up on in the course and I now drive proactively rather than reacting late to hazards as they develop in front of me. Another of my favourites, is pull-push steering making it so much easier to control the car round bends and junctions.

We carried on with drives every couple of weeks and I put into practice what I learnt. ‘Run sheets’ are completed each time, which summarise the drive and identify points to develop. Bends were difficult at first – getting my speed and gear correct beforehand and judging them correctly took some time, but I got there in the end! There was plenty to work on, but I began noticing the difference in my driving. ‘Spoken thoughts’ or ‘commentary’ was something which didn’t come naturally to me, but it is simply saying what you see and what you’re doing about it and helps to plan for hazards earlier. After around 10 drives, I had a Check Drive with another Observer to ensure I was getting ‘up to scratch’ and ready for my advanced test. I put into practice what I’d been learning and picked up some more tips along the way.

Finally, I was ready for my test! I was nervous but my examiner, Mark, instantly set me at ease. He told me he wasn’t there to catch me out and that he was looking for me to put into practice what I’d learnt during my observed drives. The drive was for around an hour on a mixture of roads and I’m pleased to say that I passed! We went through some feedback and points where I could develop further and I was delighted.

The experience was so worthwhile and my confidence has tripled. I feel that I’m much safer and my brother tells me I’m now a much better driver – I’m now encouraging him to take the course as well. I think all drivers should do the same.

Charlotte Mulhall, 25, Lincoln