South Essex Group of Advanced Motorists letters page.

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Mr Ray Waker

Ian and Ray Waker Cert
Ray Waker receiving his IAM F1RST certificate
Ray was taught by Clive Smith who was unfortunately unable to attend the presentation evening.
I just wanted to say thanks for the excellent training that you have given me over the last couple of months enabling me to pass the IAM Road Smart test first time.
The examiner said that it was “an exciting, fast and safe drive with excellent use of the IPSGA system”
I not only passed but managed to gain a “F1RST” the highest grade achievable in the IAM Road Smart test due to your excellent instruction and guidance. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the training that Clive gave me. He made me feel at ease from day one and his feedback was always very clear and concise, always making perfect sense to me. I feel from the first day my driving has improved immensely. I find myself driving more smoothly and swiftly in the national speed limit roads due to my “eyes now being on main beam” and I am consistently bang on the speed limits in restricted areas. I am enjoying driving a powerful 7 speed automatic car that I have owned for 7 years, more than ever and find myself always in sport mode now except on the bendy A and B roads where the manual tiptronic steering wheel paddles come into their own. I hardly used the manual gearchange before taking my training, always just leaving the car in automatic mode. So I have now passed the motorcycle and car IAM tests and look forward to meetings at the South Essex IAM group and eventually would like to train with a view to becoming an observer.Thanks again, and keep up the excellent work.
Kind Regards
Ray Waker

Footnote: Ray is now a National Observer.

Mr John Pharro

There are frequent articles about reaching 70 and the implications for driving a motorhome (and any other motorised vehicle). Most articles revolve around the health issues, but what about your very ability to drive at 70+? Should you be subjected to some sort of driving test, another frequently floated idea in the press as a whole? 
I reached 70 nearly 3 years ago, but like many of my age I passed my driving test years ago, in my case 1962 and boy have driving conditions changed since!  I also have developed cataracts, but my optician assured me they were not yet a problem. I had the cataracts checked out by an eye specialist who my doctor was pleased to refer me to on the NHS so no cost, and to my relief there was no immediate need for surgery either.
What to do about the driving issue though?  I decided on my 72nd birthday to take an advanced driving test with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, mainly to ensure I was safe to drive, and iron out any bad habits I may have developed.  Firstly, if you fail you do not lose your licence.  Although I failed the test the first time I at least established I was safe. However, I passed on the re-test which has done wonders for my confidence in driving. The total cost was just £180, but that included a re-test fee so represented absolute value for money.
I would highly recommend everyone reaching 70 (or if you took your test many years ago) to take the test. If you are concerned about doing a test you can for a smaller fee just have a report and recommendations as to how to improve your driving. 
Although I took my test in my own car, the South Essex IAM group that I am a member of have very helpful approachable members who are experienced in all vehicles, including Lorries, so have gleaned many useful tips on driving my motorhome.
So why not contact the Institute of Advanced Motorists, not just to ensure your health wise fit to drive, but safe as well.

Jo John P Colin G Cert
 Jo Ellis (Observer) John Pharro Colin Gamon (Observer)

Mr Dave Hillier

Colin Byford and Dave Hillier
Colin Byford presenting Dave Hillier (right) with his 'Skills for Life' Certificate

I first passed the IAM Advanced Driving Test back in early 2002 after first having a drive out with IAM Fleet that had been arranged through the company I worked for.  That sparked my interest in being a better driver. Always being a keen driver and car fan, I applied to the IAM and joined as an associate back in 2001. I really enjoyed the training and challenge and successfully passed my test. I was assigned to a local group but after attending a couple of their group nights, I stopped going.

Skip forward 15 years and I met though another organisation, one of the Local Observers for The South Essex Group, Ian Bolton.  Ian told me a little of this group and how it was being resurrected from possible closure by a new dynamic committee and asked if I would like to go along to one of their group nights.  This I did.  My interest was re-awakened.  Ian suggested that I consider perhaps re-taking my Advanced Test.  For existing members, the fee is mush reduced. Once again, my thirst for a challenge was re-awakened and I joined the group and started my (re) training.

 I was assigned a local Observer, Colin Byford. Like me, Colin was a bit of a petrol head and we hit it off almost straight away.  However, after 15 years, a lot of bad habits had crept back into my driving.  With a lot of patience and some cajoling, Colin got me back up to the standards required for passing the Advanced Test.  Under Colin’s guidance, I again successfully passed the Advanced Test in April 2016. 

Footnote Dave is now a National Observer

Ian asked if I would perhaps consider training to be a Local Observer myself. After some thought, I said yes. I am now more than half way through my Observer training and have been assigned an Associate of my own. Doing this forces me to maintain my standards of driving and will hopefully also give me the satisfaction of passing on knowledge and skills to others.

Advanced Driving is not about pipe and slippers, flat cap drivers. It is about making good, efficient and above all, safe progress.  To coin a phrase, “We are not Poodles, we are Greyhounds”.

Mr Derek Maynard

Derek Maynard

I have been a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists for many years and have seen many changes to both the organisation itself and also the Advanced Driving test. After recently retaking the test again, I got to thinking about the organisation and how its changed since I first undertook the challenge. 
What was once always referred to as the Institute of Advanced Motorists now routinely go’s by the name ‘IAM RoadSmart’ after the rebranding last year. 
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Test was devised in 1956 to raise driving standards and to promote road safety.  The first of many local groups date back to about 1960.
Shortly after the first local group was started the IAM introduced the Associate Scheme as we know it now.  Back in the1970's and 80's the local groups were invited to send three Observers (mentors) to Empire House in Chiswick (the then Head Office) for training. In my case, I went out with the Chief Examiner who was then (now late) Ted Clements MBE, for observed runs around West London.  We would then make comments about his driving, he always failed on a Wednesday, as we would find too many faults with his driving, this was something he had built into the observed run for us.

The training of Observers has improved considerably over the years. New trainee Observers would sit in on a couple of observed drives then would take over as Observer with the main Observer sitting in the back to see how they got on, if all went well then they would be assigned an Associate of their own to take out on observed runs.
In recent years the Observer training has been improved yet again taking into account all the changes that have been made to the test. The Senior Observer role is now known as a National Observer and the Junior observer is now known as a Local Observer.
The IAM began an extensive modernisation programme in 2015 updating its driving standards and core products.  On 4 April 2016, as a result of the rebrand the various activities have all been brought together (Commercial training, Advanced Driver training and Motorcycles) under the name of ‘IAM RoadSmart’.

A comparison between the Advanced Driving Test 1977 v 2017
Late in 1976 I enrolled on a Driving Improvement course run by Essex Police together with the Local Council, this involved 4 or 5 evenings once a week based on the police drivers handbook ‘Roadcraft’.  There was also a visit to the Police Driving School in Chelmsford where everyone was split into two groups, the first group would drive on the skid pan while the other group were given a demo of the police style of driving using their unmarked Ford Granada cars that were used for police driver training, afterwards the two groups would swap over. Whilst there we were also informed about the IAM Test and challenged to take it!
It was not long after this that I applied for the test. Then on a Monday morning at the start of February 1977 using my trusty Vauxhall Chevette.  I met the Examiner in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford.
The test lasted about one and a half hours. I drove from Chelmsford towards Ongar, then Brentwood and back to Chelmsford using a variety of roads. The M25 didn't exist back then. I also had to demonstrate reversing round a corner and turning around in the road, also known as a three point turn.  While driving I did a commentry on what I could see around me so that the Examiner was able to assess how well I was at reading the road, this included what was behind me. I had to keep to the speed limit, there were no speed cameras back then. I had to demonstrate that I had seen and obeyed the road signs, while still making good progress. The Examiner told me where I had to turn and generally guided me along.
My family did not move to Essex until 1969.  Before that I had been living in Burgess Hill East Sussex (now in West Sussex).
Soon after passing the IAM test I joined NELE (North East London & Essex) Group. A few years later I helped set up what is now the ‘South Essex Group of Advanced Motorists (SEGAM) where I met the late Jean Mansell, Jean and I were among the founding committee members along with about 5 other full members.
My first Driving Licence was for a Motorcycle, I passed that test within 6 months (not many people know that).  I have also driven commercial vehicles up to 7.5 tons, I estimate that I have driven about 1,000,000 miles up till now. 
February 2017 saw the 40th anniversary of me first taking the Advanced test. As a former observer I knew that the lay-out of the test had changed markedly over the years. So I decided that it would be good to take the test again using a 2016 Ford Fiesta, I had help from the Observers Ian Bolton & Dave Hillier who ironed out a few bad habits that inevitably crept in over the years. They gave me some sound advice on what I needed to know now in order to pass the re vamped test. 
On the day of the test I met the Examiner, Mark Wilson, at a Golf Club South of Brentwood just off  the A128 near to the A127.  Mark gave me a brief of what I needed to demonstrate beforehand.  Even taking in to account my present work with Daffaldi as I travel all over Essex, plus the Cambridge postcode area, Mark still managed to find roads that I have not used before, or not used for a long time. 

Again the test was performed on a variety of roads which included a short section of the M25 which as previously stated was NOT there 1st time around. Fortunately it was not living up to it's name as Britain's biggest car park.  We then travelled out to Billericay, Stock, Galleywood Chelmsford and Ongar then towards Brentwood, the M25 then the A127 and back to golf club again.  This time there was no reversing manoeuvre expected at the end of the test. I then parked my car next to Marks.  During the preceding’s a couple of times I was asked to give a commentary, including mentioning road signs (Some that needed a good wash), during the commentary I noted some of the white lines that were badly worn.  At times there was also some lack of vision for example  through green foliage, this time around there was more use of the cockpit drill, more knowledge of car controls and a rolling brake test.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would highly recommend that other people re take the test in order to stay current, but most of all safe.
Derek Maynard.