It’s true, the ‘nervous middle’ can become advanced drivers

Blog post posted on 18/06/19 |

Before I started at IAM RoadSmart, I hadn’t heard of the charity and I’d never given advanced driving a second thought. I reluctantly took up driving lessons after university to help broaden my job search so I could find a role further afield from home, if needed.

My driving instructor was great but I hated taking the lessons. I was nervous and had a total lack of confidence, so once I passed I was over the moon at the thought of never having to do it again.

Then I started my role at IAM RoadSmart and it made sense for me to do the Advanced Driver Course. I wanted to understand the product a little better, boost my confidence behind the wheel and become a better driver.

Sitting opposite Richard Gladman, our head of driving and riding standards, meant I had daily chats about the advanced courses so I already knew how to advance my driving skills - I just had to put these into practice.

Unfortunately for the Marketing and Communications team, they had to listen to me going on about how nervous I was for the four weeks running up to my first session. Although I wanted to do this, my anxiety was telling me something different.

And then the big day came. And actually … it wasn’t that bad. As one of those drivers who fits into the ‘nervous middle’ category, I expected my experience to be a lot more nerve-wrecking and uncomfortable than it was.

I realised pretty quickly that the course was different from the driving lessons I had four years ago. Instead of being told what I’m doing right and wrong, I was guided through the techniques of advanced driving and IPSGA was applied to improve my driving.

My observer had mentioned that my driving was of a good standard and it just needed a little more work to push it to an advance standard. This definitely boosted my confidence and wanted to achieve a F1RST.

It was clear from my sessions that simple things could improve my awareness of the road, such as looking in my mirrors more frequently and using the limit point as a guide on my vehicle’s positioning and to help determine when to accelerate and decelerate.

There were a few things in particular that I really appreciated from completing the course:

  • My observer knew I was nervous and made me feel as comfortable as possible – our conversations weren’t just about driving. We chatted about other topics; from our jobs to our family. This put me at ease as I didn’t feel like someone was just sat there judging the way I drive and it made the drives quite enjoyable.
  • I was in control. I was never made to do anything I wasn’t confident doing. On my third session, I asked my observer if we could practice roundabouts as I felt nervous when approaching the larger ones which have more than two lanes. So on my next drive, we spent over one hour focussing on this. Since then, I’ve become a lot more confident and am able to approach them slowly, take in all the signs around me and calmly get into the correct lane without panicking.
  • I can definitely say I’m a better driver. My spoken thoughts help me focus on the road. I’m more aware of my surroundings, constantly checking my mirrors, and understanding IPSGA and limit points has improved the way I drive on the road.

Would I recommend the course? Of course I would. You’re probably thinking: “She has to say that, she works there.” And yes … I probably do but that’s not the case.

Before the course, I’d Google Map my journey two weeks ahead of time just to prepare myself for the type of roads and roundabouts I’d be driving on. Now, I’m confident driving on unfamiliar roads using advanced driving techniques.

Although I’m now a lot more confident on country roads, roundabouts and unfamiliar roads, I’m continuously practising the skills I’ve learnt to improve my driving and keep the F1RST status I achieved when passing.

You can conquer your fears and boost your confidence behind the wheel too! Book an Advanced Driver Course now.

By Junique Aujla, IAM RoadSmart Digital Content Executive