If you didn’t already know, I really love cars. There is a picture of me age three at my parents’ house taken by a professional photographer where I am pointing at something off camera. Years later when I asked them what I was pointing at, they said: “You were pointing at a toy car on the window sill,” – and I wouldn’t stop pointing at it. Eventually the photographer gave me the car!
My earliest memory of Formula 1 was seeing Gilles Villeneuve trying to drive his Ferrari to the pits with a shredded tyre, which became a ripped suspension, at the 1979 Dutch Grand Prix – which would have made me nine at the time.
I knew Ford cars of the 1980’s so well I knew which trim level a car was simply by looking at the hubcap pattern. And eventually my local Ford dealer stopped letting me have brochures as I was there so often.
In light of this, you might be surprised that I don’t enjoy driving and never have done. I have driven for 26 years, and owned a car continuously from that point. They include three Volkswagens, two Fords and a disastrous Rover Coupe.
So why don’t I enjoy driving? Where do I start! Cooped up in a small space, sat in an awkward unnatural position, aggressive drivers around you, too many things making me stop my car … the list goes on.
Driving is simply a means to get to a destination. My life starts once I’ve got there.
With all of this, Maxine Bromyard from Home Counties North Advanced Drivers Group had her work cut out as she turned me into an advanced driver. As I was going through my training, she said a non-enjoyer like me is exactly the sort of person who could benefit from the advanced driver course.
And while I might never become someone who derives pleasure from every journey, advanced driving has helped tremendously in taking away much of the downbeat feeling I get each time I get behind the wheel.
Planning ahead, allowing time, smooth gear changing and acceleration, reading the road ahead, predicting the behaviour of other drivers … it all helps in reducing stress as a driver, and reaching the end of the journey without a frazzled mind.
Being an advanced driver is not all about being superior – it’s about treating others the way you want to be treated yourself, not putting others at risk, and getting a benefit for yourself that is unique to what you need as an individual.
Advanced driving is not a straightjacket – the way it’s tailored to the individual is pretty amazing.
So I’m not likely to be the next big TV car critic but I might just avoid getting more grey hairs and a few less frown lines, as I have now become an advanced driver ... having passed my advanced test on 9 February!By Rodney Kumar, IAM RoadSmart senior communications executive