Mastering Precision Driving: A Day in the Life of an IAM RoadSmart Skills Day Instructor, Carolyn Menteith

Blog post posted on 20/05/24 |
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Carolyn can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to drive a car, and after spending her early teenage years living in a small seaside town in the northeast of England, driving represented freedom as far as she was concerned, so she couldn't wait to get behind the wheel and explore much further afield.

Carolyn - skills day blog

“My first car, which cost all of £175 (a fortune to me then!) was a light blue Ford Escort Mk 2 that was actively falling apart with every drive, but I loved it! I managed to keep it on the road for the best part of two years with the use of a beer crate, gaffer tape, and my trusty Haynes manual.”

She was first introduced to IAM RoadSmart when, after years of driving practical vehicles both personally and for work, she bought the car she had always wanted: a black Audi TT Mk3. “Very quickly, I realised that owning a car that had a top speed of 155 MPH and did 0-60 in just under six seconds was a different beast from driving the economical city cars that had been part of my life living in London and the Southeast. If I wanted to keep myself safe, be safe for all those around me, and do the car justice, I needed to up my game, so an Advanced Driver course seemed like the perfect answer.”

Carolyn says that, thanks to the course, she became much more aware of the hazards on the roads and how, by using the IPSGA system, she could plan to deal with those hazards safely and smoothly. This resulted in her becoming a far safer and far better driver, but it also enabled her to enjoy driving even more.

Rather than the Advanced Test being the end of the journey, she was keen to do more, so she went on to do her Masters, and as part of that, was introduced to Skills Days. After doing several of these—and admittedly becoming totally addicted—she eventually joined the Skills Day Instructor team.

“The Skills Days as an instructor are really enjoyable but incredibly full-on, as for each session we are working with two people in their own cars, and so we are jumping between the two. This gives each driver time out on the circuit to learn new skills, while the other has a chance to let their car cool down, have a rest or a cup of tea, and think about what they have just learned and how to put that into practice in their next set of laps.”

While driving with experienced drivers is always enjoyable, the real thrill often comes from working with more nervous drivers who have never dreamed of venturing onto a circuit before. Seeing their confidence soar as the session goes on makes it all worthwhile for Carolyn, who has been an instructor at Thruxton, Blyton Park, and Croft circuits.

“We never know what cars are going to be there—or who will turn up and what they hope to achieve out of the day—and so talking to people, discovering their needs, finding out about their experiences as a driver, and helping them get the best out of their car and themselves is as much a part of the day as the driving. And working with such a talented and passionate instructor team makes these days special.

“Of all the things I have done within IAM RoadSmart, the Skills Days have been the thing that inspired me most in my driving. I’ve always enjoyed getting out of my car, but these Skills Days and the instruction and experience of practicing all I have learned in a safe environment transformed my enjoyment into passion, and I love being able to share that.”

To find out more about IAM Roadsmart Skills Days, click here. Or why not try our Advanced Course free taster sessions? It is your chance to experience our Advanced Driver and Advanced Rider courses. They are not an independent assessment of your driving or riding, but rather an introduction to the full course, which should help you decide whether it is right for you.