June 26, 2017

Could every driver benefit from taking the IAM Advanced Test?

Deaths and injuries on Britain’s roads have been falling steadily since the war, even though today there are more vehicles on our roads than ever before.

Many factors have contributed to this trend. Hundreds of towns have been bypassed, new roads are engineered to very high standards, and some of the most dangerous junctions have been improved. Even though you may not think it, our motorway network has never been better. Modern cars offer more protection in accidents and enormous improvements in handling, roadholding, braking and steering help drivers to avoid accidents. Speed in dangerous places is being confronted by a ever increasingly sophisticated camera network, while drink driving, at last, is regarded as socially unacceptable.

Yet the number of people who die on our roads remains unacceptably high – the toll is still well over 3000 a year. Traffic accidents are the largest cause of death and injury among young adults, ahead of illness and drug abuse. Nearly a quarter of all adults who die before they are 30 lose their lives in road accidents. Regardless of age, almost half of all accidental deaths in Britain occur on the roads.

Despite the progress that has been made, one area still has to be tackled – driving standards. This is something to which everyone can contribute.

If every driver in Britain developed his or her skills to the standard required to pass the Advanced Driver Test, deaths and injuries would fall spectacularly.

Statistics complied by the Transport Research Labatory show that motorists who have passed the advanced driving test, have a 25 per cent lower accident rate than candidates who fail, and a 50-70 per cent better record than the average driver.

Mechanical or tyre failures account for a tiny proportion of accidents. Most accidents – around 95 per cent – are caused by human error. Road safety ultimately depends on the skills and responsibility of everyone who drives. The motto of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), which was formed in 1956 to work for higher standards of driving, is ‘skill with responsibility’.

Advanced driving, is based on a set of fundamental principles which guide every action a driver takes behind the wheel. Advanced motorists are able to control their car with greater precision, but the key ethos is driving with a greater sense of concentration and awareness. This doesn’t necessarily mean at a slower pace – advanced drivers are confident and decisive, but never reckless. In fact they are enthusiastic about driving and make better progress than most drivers, choosing carefully the moments when they overtake and searching for chances to move unobtrusively through the traffic. A more systematic driving style also brings with it the benefits of reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

IAM associates enjoy a wide range of benefits including discounts on AA breakdown cover, windscreen repairs, tyre replacement and car hire. Successful candidates go on to enjoy membership of the IAM motor insurance scheme.

Apart from the addition of a simple multiple-choice written assessment, the standard government-driving test has remained unchanged since 1934, and it can be passed largely without demonstrating more than the most basic grasp of driving skills, and without ever driving on a motorway, or at night.

Passing the L-test marks the end of an apprenticeship and the start of the real learning that develops as you put miles under your belt. If you are interested in demonstrating a higher level of skill behind the wheel, together with enjoying a host of other benefits, maybe you should consider passing your Advanced Drivers Test. IAM’s Skill for Life programme is available nationwide by a network of IAM Groups, each run by volunteers. Your local IAM Group will help plan a personal learning programme and guide you through the steps leading to the test.

For more information log onto www.iam.org.uk or call 020 8996 9600

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