“Wow, over half of our Associates are young drivers – how cool is that!” When I thought this the other week it was true, then two of our amazing young drivers went and passed their Advanced tests within days of each other – and bang went my statistics!
Still, I find it really exciting that although less than a year ago our committee were struggling to think of ways to grab the attention of younger drivers, in the last seven months we have attracted 22 to sign up to the Advanced Driving Course.
Young drivers seem to get a bad press, sometimes fuelled by the exploits of a tiny minority of foolhardy people (and we know in all sectors of life there are the risk takers). But I must admit that I’ve been really impressed with all of ours: we call them the ‘Northampton 22’! They’re keen, quick to learn and happy to practice between observed drives – even those that may have had a little initial parental pressure to join us!
We run a classroom session with demo drives that covers the core aspects (IPSGA, observations, planning and positioning) and this starts at 09:00 on a Saturday morning. And yes, all of our Northampton 22 have not only been on time for these sessions, but awake and willing to contribute. Their knowledge of the Highway Code has even put some of our more experienced Associates to shame!
It may seem strange to say, but many of our Northampton 22 started off with strong technical abilities. One chap, Jack, was a natural driver and even did perfect boosted gear changes without being shown how. When we asked how he learned to do it he just shrugged as if to say “it’s obvious”.
Another of the Northampton 22, Christian Rodley, said on passing his test: “IAM RoadSmart has not only boosted my confidence on the road and improved my skill set, it has also taught me to be a more considerate driver, consequently making the roads safer. The lessons were highly enjoyable and I would recommend this course to anyone.”
All of us at Northampton Advanced Motorists consider ourselves to be really fortunate. We were awarded a grant from our Northamptonshire Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner that enables us to give young drivers (under the age of 26) £100 cashback when they pass their test. I still get a warm glow each time we hand over the money - and we have done six times already - not just to see a young driver achieve something so important, but also because the grant itself is funded via The Proceeds of Crime Act.
Since starting this blog the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lockdown, so we aren’t carrying out any practical drives. We had been planning to host a young drivers’ manoeuvring competition in April and had already started delivering talks to sixth formers in the Northampton area. But we’ll be back stronger than ever when the lockdown is lifted!
Another exciting development for us is the fact that we’re planning to produce bitesize videos – in fact I had already received some excellent footage from our Observer, Dave, who had taken it upon himself to do some recording before lockdown.
I think the key thing for me over the next few months is to keep our Northampton 22 engaged, and although many will not be driving at the moment, it would be great to be able to provide guidance in a format they, and our other Associates, will enjoy. As the ‘techy’ in our group, I will be looking to see how others are doing this – I have no shame and will happily adapt things I see and like that can benefit our members.
I am hoping that although we are currently living in difficult and frightening times there will be some exciting technical innovations that will help us reach a wider audience – who knows maybe this time next year I will be blogging about the Northampton 44, or even the Northampton 100!
By Henny Cameron, Treasurer, Newsletter and Social Media Officer