Just a few short weeks ago, we were looking forward to the start of the busiest part of the year for IAM RoadSmart and its 182 local groups as the days got longer and the opportunities to recruit and coach new associates to advanced driving and riding standards usually begin in earnest.
What none of us could have known then was how quickly Coronavirus would overtake our efforts to make roads across the UK safer through driver education and training.
Looking back over the last few weeks I am filled with pride for the way everyone – staff and members – have pulled together and how the IAM RoadSmart community has stepped up, as one, to the incredible challenge facing our whole country.
Through an extraordinary team effort, we are keeping our charitable mission on the road, continuing to spread the word about the importance of road safety and the part every driver and rider can play in reducing the number of people who die and are injured on our roads each year.
Exceptional times call for exceptional measures. Staff and members have adapted with equal enthusiasm to a world where we all keep in touch over video conferencing, socialise with our family and friends online and use social media to keep sharing our road safety message.
I take my hat off to all those groups who are using video conferencing to continue holding regular committee meetings, AGMs and social events. I congratulate all those who are holding webinars for associates to keep their journey to advanced driver or rider status ticking over. To those who are using regular e-newsletters to keep in touch and looking ahead to a time when we can all enjoy some restored freedoms, I salute you.
Many of our members are among those who are currently on the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus and we are grateful to you for all your dedication and hard work in these extremely challenging circumstances. I have tried to make sure all of us at IAM RoadSmart are playing our part by staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives. I’ve been on my doorstep for the weekly #ClapforCarers, along with so many of you. It’s a moving and exhilarating experience to see how we have all come together in this national crisis.
So many more of our members have taken their incredible volunteer spirit out into their local communities, to support the vulnerable, joining the NHS Volunteer Responders and doing other invaluable work. Staff have also signed up or are rolling their sleeves up to help in their local communities. From shopping for a vulnerable neighbour to keeping in touch with those on their own, you have shown just what an incredible community IAM RoadSmart is.
Wherever we can, we have used our role and reputation as the UK’s largest independent road safety charity to reinforce the Government’s messages and offer people sensible, practical advice on everything from vehicle maintenance to managing speed and being considerate of more vulnerable road users to minimise the risk of adding yet more pressure for the NHS at this critical time.
We now know we will be continuing to remain locked down for at least another three weeks. And while it’s vital everyone continues to follow the Government’s social distancing advice to protect all our health, at some point our social distancing measures will be relaxed, as we’re seeing in other parts of the world.
It is not yet clear how soon we will be able to resume our on-road training safely but I believe this will be more important than ever after such an extended period of restricted vehicle use. Roads busy with traffic may seem daunting to many initially. Our driver and rider coaching can do a great deal to sharpen dulled road skills and rebuild confidence dented by time off the streets.By Mike Quinton, CEO, IAM RoadSmart