My journey with IAM Lincolnshire began in April 2017. I got a new job which meant I now had a commute of two hours a day with further community work which required driving. I wasn't the most confident driver, so began to look into having some advanced driving lessons.
I was already friends with Ash (IAM Lincolnshire Observer) on Twitter and I was aware of his work with the charity, so kept them in mind. It was something I planned to do but didn't see it as something I needed to rush into straightaway. My first day in the job I had a stone crack my windscreen making my car undrivable and then later in the week I got my first speeding ticket! When that letter came through the door, I realised that I needed to look at my driving skills and build my awareness – especially confidence of rural driving. I contacted IAM Lincolnshire and secured a free taster drive with Ash in June 2017. The taster drive was great and highlighted that although generally my driving wasn't too bad my braking was heavy, I wasn't the most confident at overtaking and generally needed to refine some skills.
I must say at this point, I do have some mobility issues and I was a bit worried about how this would look as I'm aware I don't hold my steering wheel as I should and just my general fatigue needed to be factored in. I started my course in Sept/Oct meeting my Observers after work when it would be dark during our first drives. I really enjoyed the lessons; it was nice to look at theories and ways of driving that were not covered in my actual driving lesson. I enjoyed practicing the new skills Ash showed me and we spoke about smoother braking and little things such as "prepare to stop, look to go" when getting to roundabouts which enabled me to have a much smoother driving experience.
I noticed over the months of working with Ash that my confidence in my driving had improved. I wasn't intimidated by those rural roads in the south of Lincolnshire anymore and I felt much more confident at roundabouts and in built up areas.
I took my advanced test in March 2018 and thankfully passed. I didn’t pass with a F1RST1 and looking through my examiners feedback and speaking to Ash, we decided to work on my Spoken Thought and retry for a F1RST over time. Unfortunately, the rest of 2018 was wiped out for me due to health battles and I was unable to attend meetings until the beginning of 2019. When I began to feel well again, I realised that I really enjoyed my lessons with IAM, I enjoyed learning the theory and felt reassured that although I may not be able to control other drivers, I can control my driving.
I began to miss my IAM drives. I was continuing to be involved with IAM on social media, following their Twitter feed, engaging in conversations and expressing my opinions and I realised that after speaking with Ash I wanted to be more involved, so I was offered the chance of becoming an Observer. I began to have some refresher lessons to ensure I still felt this was what I wanted to do and signed up.
Since becoming an Observer, I’ve also managed to convince my mum to sign up for an advanced course! I thought it would be good to build her confidence after she had had a couple of incidents with reversing lorries and bumping into bollards. I officially became an Observer at the end of 2019 which was perfect timing for IAM Lincolnshire as they had 100 young people starting their advanced driving journey as part of a joint scheme with Marc Jones, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. I was allocated a young person towards the end of January and we managed to fit in a couple of drives before Covid-19 put things on hold.
I am still in regular contact with my associate and I am really looking forward to the day when we can get back in the car and I can teach her some of the amazing things that being an advanced driver with IAM Lincolnshire taught me.
Local Observer, IAM Lincolnshire
1. F1RST – the highest level of IAM test pass which can be achieved.