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Friday, 27 March 2015

IAM backs drive to find Britain's best young talent behind the wheel

The search is on for the country's best young driver – but the catch is they have to be aged under 17.

The Young Driver Challenge 2015 launches this week and is backed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). It offers 11-16 year olds the chance to show their skills behind the wheel of a car.

The challenge took place for the first time in 2014, with hundreds of entries from around the country. Accelerating to the top, the eventual winners were named as Hannah Tripp, aged 13 from Cheddar in Somerset, and Troy Hickling, aged 16, from Leicester.

Run by Young Driver, the UK's largest provider of under-17 driving lessons, the challenge aims to encourage youngsters to consider responsible and safe driving, with top marks given to those who show the best levels of control and awareness. It is backed by the IAM and motoring expert and presenter Quentin Willson.

Entries can be made until the end of July and the 40 top scorers will be invited to a final event to be held in the Midlands in September. Drivers are assessed during a lesson at any of Young Driver's 28 venues, and marked according to strict criteria on their driving skills and manoeuvres, including parallel parking, figures of eight, turn in the road, steering, judgement and positioning.

Participants complete the second part of the test after their lesson via the Goodyear Driving Academy, an online driving simulator which tests a youngsters' knowledge of the Highway Code.

The top prizes on offer include 20 Young Driver lessons, 20 'on the road' post-17 driving lessons courtesy of Goodyear, a Young Driver at School session for the winner and their classmates and £500 off a car insurance premium courtesy of Young Driver sponsor Admiral. There will also be a special Admiral Award for the young driver who shows the best attitude, with a £200 cash prize.

The Young Driver scheme was set up in 2009 with the aim of creating safer newly qualified drivers. Currently in the UK, one in five new drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test and road traffic accidents account for 25 per cent of all the deaths of 15-19 year olds. Every year 400 people are killed in accidents involving young drivers. Yet, independent research shows that Young Driver past-pupils have 50 per cent less accidents than other novice drivers. 

Kim Stanton, who runs the Young Driver scheme, said: "The Young Driver Challenge was a huge success last year. The final event included 40 youngsters who all demonstrated a driving ability well beyond their years, and I think people would be stunned to see how good they are.

"The aim of Young Driver has always been to create a safer next generation of drivers. We need to teach youngsters over a longer period of time, to give them a more thorough understanding and ample experience. Research actually shows that road safety messages are better absorbed by children in their early teens rather than at driving age. So the Young Driver Challenge gives us a great opportunity to talk to more youngsters about safe driving, and to show the general public just how good these young drivers can be, given the proper tuition. We look forward to seeing this year's entries!"

Mark Lewis, director of standards at the IAM, said: "I was very impressed with the standard of driving displayed by the young drivers last year and the final went to a tense tie-breaker. All who attended had a good day and I heard lots of stories from proud parents and grandparents about how the young drivers have made them change their driving habits for the better.

"Every young person who undertakes this training is potentially setting themselves up for a lifetime of safe driving. I'm looking forward to seeing the standard being maintained this year and a sunny final event like last year will be the icing on the cake!"

Quentin Willson, Transport Campaigner, added: "The Young Driver Challenge recognises and celebrates how early tuition can make a generation of novice drivers safer on our roads. I'm extremely proud to support these awards."

For more information about the challenge, or to book a Young Driver lesson, please log on to www.youngdriver.eu or call 0844 371 9010

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Transporter driver destroys fleet of new Fords

Ford transporter
A fleet of brand new Fords have been destroyed before ever turning a wheel on the road, after a transporter lorry carrying them became wedged under a low bridge.

The driver – who now likely fears for his job – got stuck under the 4.4m high bridge in Long Itchington, Warwickshire, after attempting to take a short-cut to avoid traffic tailbacks.

The accident, which – rather appropriately – happened on Friday March 13, saw five cars on the top tier of the transporter – all Ford Focus models – severely damaged, with some being virtually flattened and others with torn roofs and mangled bodywork.

Ford accident
A witness to the crash, which occurred during the morning rush hour, told The Telegraph: "It was like watching it in slow motion.

"It's a long road and it was pretty obvious the transporter was too high for the bridge but it kept going and suddenly there was a crunch and all these new cars got wrecked.

"The driver wasn't hurt but he looked as white as a sheet, he was no doubt trying to think of how he was going to explain it to his bosses at Ford.

"It had to be Friday 13th when the accident happened. If you want take a chance on a short-cut that is not the day to try your luck."

The bill for the damage is expected to run into tens of thousands of pounds, with a number of the affected cars expected to be written off by insurers.

A Ford spokesperson confirmed to The Telegraph that a "serious incident" had taken place, and that an investigation was under way.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

IAM aren’t ‘sat-nags’. Let us map you to happy motoring

This week, the IAM's chief examiner, Peter Rodger, is sharing advice with drivers about operating a satellite navigation system safely. Here are his top seven tips to help navigate you through your journey.

  1. Before setting off make sure you have an idea of the route. Knowing your north from your south can help you check the sat nav is not sending you to the wrong destination and means you don't have to rely on it for the whole time.
  2. Carry a road atlas with you – you might need it if you have wrongly programmed your satellite navigation system. Also, you might need a backup in the unlikely event of the GPS signal failing. Whatever you do, never drive around aimlessly in hope that a lost signal will come back again.
  3. If you are using a detachable satellite navigation system make sure it is fully charged before starting your journey. You will also need to check that the screen is bright enough for you to read from it, but not too bright that it distracts you from essential car systems. The volume should also be adjusted to ensure you can hear everything clearly.
  4. It's important to mount the navigation system on your windscreen correctly, where the positioning of it doesn't compromise what you see ahead. Ideally, put it on the side of your windscreen so you can easily see it from the corner of your eye.
  5. If your car comes with a built-in satellite navigation system you will need to familiarise yourself with how your system operates as each manufacturers' is different.
  6. Touchscreens can be difficult to operate when you are trying to programme in a destination. Make sure you programme in your destination before starting your journey, or ask a fellow passenger to help you programme it if you've already set off. Don't let it be a reason for distraction.
  7. Some sat-nav systems are not modern enough to cope with SMART motorways (those with variable speed limits despite displaying speed limit information.) Be aware that the limit on your sat-nav may not always match the real world limit.

Peter said: "Satellite navigation systems are a terrific benefit for users; they save fuel time and reduce aggravation"

"However they are only useful when used in combination with common sense and other aids to navigation; people need to follow the actual signs as well and not be over-reliant on technology to get them out of trouble each and every time."

Monday, 16 March 2015

As the driving test reaches 80 the IAM says it's time for an overhaul

As the driving test today reaches its 80th anniversary in the UK, leading road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) says its time the way we teach new drivers received a comprehensive overall to keep it relevant to today's driving landscape and to the problems faced by young people on the road.

The Road Traffic Act was passed in 1934; the legislation that paved the way for compulsory driving tests in the UK a year later.

The biggest developments in the driving test came into effect in the past two decades: in 1996 a theory test was added to the practical element. From 2002 learners also had to pass a hazard perception exam.

However as it stands now, the driving test does not include any testing of a driver's ability to cope safely with country roads, poor weather or driving at night – three aspects we know are the main risk factors in the first six months of solo driving.

Road accidents remain the biggest killer of young people in the UK, higher than both alcohol and drugs. In 2013 there were 191 people under 24 killed and 20,003 injured as drivers and riders of cars and motorbikes (1).

In the past five years (2009-13) there were 1,037 people under 24 killed and 120,958 injured on UK roads as drivers and riders – while the overall trend has been falling, these figures are unacceptable.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: "The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world. For instance, Austria has a 'second phase' licensing system, where young drivers come back in the first 12 months after the test for further interventions to examine attitude changes and skills."

Young male driver casualties have dropped by a third in in Austria as a result of the initiative.

The IAM advocates the following changes to the driver training 'system' as part of its manifesto: road safety education to be part of the National Curriculum, support for a minimum learning period prior to taking the practical test, the inclusion of high speed roads in the test itself, support for limits on peer passenger numbers after the test is passed, and a lower drink-drive limit for new drivers.

The IAM also wants to see learner drivers allowed on motorways so they can learn from an expert rather than on their own after passing the test (2).

Neil said: "The driving test today does test a driver's ability to a very high level, but it has fallen behind what is urgently needed today in 2015. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the next government."

He added that the driving test needed to take into account whether the influence of new technology and driver aids; such as satellite navigation and cradle-held mobile phones used as navigation devices, should play a part in a 21st century driving test.

Friday, 6 March 2015

March 12th Social Evening

Don't forget .............
12th March, 7:30pm - South East 4x4 Rapid Response Unit
A talk from Steve Short from the South East 4x4 Rapid Response Unit.

Location: Littlebourne Memorial Hall, Kent  CT3 1ST 

Motoring of the future

Please see in notes the Transport Committees press release on motoring of the future. The IAM gave evidence to this committee and our response to the release is:

IAM director of policy, Neil Greig said:  "The next few years could see a confusing combination of computer and human-controlled vehicles on our roads so the legal framework must be clear on who is responsible in the event of a crash.  The way we train drivers will have to change to reflect this.

"The committee recognised our concerns about data protection. Computerised vehicles will generate information on an epic scale.  In the not so distant future a hacker could do more damage than a drunk driver. Getting system security right must be a top priority."

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Message from IAM new CEO

Dear Member,

Since joining the IAM on February 5th I have met many of the IAM employed team and we had some excellent things to share with the Council of Management at the Trustees meeting last week. I am keen to share this information with you.

IAM Membership numbers are increasing

Firstly and very importantly, membership numbers have increased in seven out of the last 10 months.  Part of that is because we have improved the way that we communicate renewals reminders to you, our members - letter, email and telephone.

We also now offer more for members - more events, more benefits, more courses to take and the opportunity to gain the IMI accredited observer standards. Our groups are also helping to maintain membership by getting our associate members to test standard, being present at numerous events, by undertaking assessments and free taster sessions and by welcoming members old and new locally.

A noticeable number of long-lapsed members are returning due to two main factors - the members' only insurance offered by IAM Surety and also our increased media presence. This is very good news and a tribute to all who want to see safer riding and driving standards.

Record levels of media coverage for the IAM

Secondly, for an example of what our policy and communications team are achieving for the IAM, we need look no further than last month.  February was an outstanding month in the media. We led the debate on no less than four national stories.  In print we had stories in every national newspaper, including two in The Times and the front page of the Daily Mail. In total we achieved 2,600 print and online media. We led the debate on no less than four national stories.  In print we had stories in every national newspaper, including two in The Times and the front page of the Daily Mail. In total we achieved 2,600 print and online media clips.

The month saw our media interviews broadcast 745 times, which included BBC Breakfast, BBC TV news, BBC Radio 4's Today programme and BBC Radio Five Live.

The government's quarterly road safety figures on 5 February showed an increase in numbers of people killed and seriously injured.  Our comments were used in the Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Times, Guardian, Daily Mirror and Daily Star in 250 media clips that day.

On Sunday 8 February the news broke about a decline in traffic police numbers. Our comments featured on bbc.co.uk, the Sunday Times, Independent and the Express.

On Thursday 12 February the IAM broke a story on the worst speeders caught by speed cameras.  We featured on BBC Breakfast, The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Metro, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and a large number of regional outlets. The story ran again the following week as the press tracked down 'Britain' s Worst Speeder', caught doing 128mph in a 30mph zone. That story ran in the Metro, The Times, Daily Star and Daily Express.

We continue to champion driving and riding skills development

Our key message of "The IAM's fundamental belief is that an improvement in driving skills and attitude is the key to reducing the numbers of people killed and injured on UK roads. It has long advocated advanced driving and riding tuition and continuous development in skills to help achieve this." was included in the Press Association story and made hundreds of outlets including the Daily Mail.

Members got in touch with us by email and on Facebook about a line in the story that referred to it being 'impossible to react' at very high speeds. Of course it is possible. Thank you to everyone who pointed this out, we'll bear it in mind in the future.

Chief examiner Peter Rodger's story in The Times about older drivers caused a flurry of enquiries from the BBC with himself, Tim Shallcross and Neil Greig giving dozens of radio interviews. Tim also featured on BBC Breakfast in front of millions of peak-time morning viewers.

The result of this was more than 50 sales of our mature drivers' assessments.

Other notable results included our interview with The Times – I was pleased to have two appearances in The Times in successive days, along with a young driver feature in the Mail on Sunday 22nd.

As you will see above we have provided links to many of the articles above, so you can see them for yourselves.

Together we are making the IAM stronger

So why am I telling you all of this in an all member email? The reason is that your work out in the field is enhancing our reputation, leading to arrest the previous decline in membership numbers, increasing our credibility and causing the media to have a greater interest in us.

In short – our success is your success.

So please feel good about your association with the IAM, as we certainly feel good about you being on board with us.

Yours faithfully,


Sarah Sillars OBE
IAM Chief Executive
IAM House
510 Chiswick High Road
W4 5RG

New drug-drive laws ‘a big step forward’ says IAM

Leading road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has described the introduction of new drug-driving laws as 'a big step forward for road safety.'

There will be a new offence of driving while over the prescribed limit of certain drugs as of Monday (today). For the first time ever limits have been set for illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, LSD and cannabis as well as a number of medicinal drugs including morphine and methadone.

The new procedure will bring detection of drug driving into line with the widely understood drink driving enforcement procedure. Police will no longer need to prove that driving was impaired. They will simply obtain a blood sample and show that any of the specified drugs are present above the prescribed limit.

Roadside drugalysers (or an impairment test) can be used in the first instance to test drivers - all this is broadly similar to the way drink/driving processes have operated in the past.

The IAM added that in the case of prescribed and over-the-counter medication users should read the accompanying information very carefully, to see if the prescribed dosage will impair your ability to control your vehicle.

Estimates suggest as many as 200 drug driving related deaths occur every year in the British Isles. Surveys suggest that one in ten young male drivers have driven under the influence of cannabis, and 370,000 have driven under the influence of class A drugs (1).

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: "The new law is a real step in the right direction for the eradication of driving under the influence of drugs. The IAM has always stated there should be no doubt to drivers and riders as to what the correct course of action should be; no-one should be driving while under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drugs in your system.

"Many drugs impair the senses to a massive degree – if you are not in full control of your vehicle, you become a severe danger to yourself, your passengers and other road users. It is a self-centred action and those committing it are now being punished with the full force of the law. Now at last, there is a real deterrent."

She added: "We also urge drivers and riders not to forget how prescription drugs can affect your ability to control a vehicle. Don't ignore the instructions and think you know better."

The IAM's policy statement on drugs and driving can be found here: http://iam.org.uk/policydrugsdriving

Monday, 2 March 2015

KGAM splash out on new corporate Polo Shirts

Graham Aylard, David Hill, Linda Davies, Jill Taylor, Terry Nunn & Richard Thomas
all members of the Kent Group of Advanced Motorists proudly show off the new
Group Polo shirts - Classy eh?

Weekend Celebrations

Each month the Kent Group of Advanced Motorists meet for the Skill For Life monthly sessions. As always, we start with certificate presentations for those who have recently passed any tests before the group commences the lecture on how to become an advanced motorists.

Chairman Linda Davies presented John Allen, Jeanette Jones and Ken Kendrick (pictured below) their certificates for completing the course and recently passing their Skill for Life test.

John Allen,  Jeanette Jones and Ken Kendrick

John mentioning to the group that one of the biggest changes to his driving was looking far enough ahead to the 'Limit Point'

A big congratulations to them all from all at the Kent Group of Advanced Motorists.

If you fancy the challenge of becoming an Advanced driver, or wish to improve on your driving skills, visit our website for details on how to join up on our next course, starting in July.