A month or so ago I posted an article about my first driving session to gain acceptance as a full member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). Well after much practising of my weak points, today was session two with my IAM Observer, Wendy Betteridge.
The weather was much worse than on the previous session, not that that worried me at all. I was more worried that I hadn’t perfected my steering wheel control enough. Like many New Zealanders, I had fallen into the habit of going hand-over-hand when doing tighter turns, rather than the approved and safer pull/pull or push/pull method of steering wheel control.
As mentioned in the last article, I had consciously made an effort to always use this method since that session…and yes, sometimes I did (and still do) fail. Still, I felt I was ready for Round Two.
We headed off, and Wendy asked me to verbalise EVERYTHING I was seeing, and doing. EVERYTHING. It’s a hard task, when you are asked to speak out loud about all the things that you do naturally when driving. As we went around the route she had chosen, I had to call out anything I saw that might affect how I was driving, if it was an actual risk or just a potential risk. Pedestrians, animals, a change in road conditions, roundabouts, approaching traffic, traffic ahead or behind in my lane, traffic lights, stop signs…I babbled on endlessly (well it felt like it) for 15 minutes.
Still, apparently I saw almost everything she was expecting me to see. I had also improved on the distance I left between my car and the one in front if at the lights (for example) and managed to get my speed a bit more under control this time.
After my hour session was over, Wendy declared that I had nearly reached the point of being ready for my actual IAM examination. She remarked that I had probably progressed towards an advanced standard quite quickly because I test new models of cars and write about them and was already an above average driver when I went for our first drive. She added it was rare that a driver progress this quickly. Always good to have some comment like this from a professional driver and IAM Observer.
As a casual comment, she threw in that it was part of my full test to do a written exam – ten questions from the Road Code and ten questions from the Roadcraft book – with an 80% pass rate in each! This theory part of the test precedes the drive and if I don’t pass, I won’t be doing the drive! This was unexpected. I’ve got halfway through the Roadcraft book, but I can see I’m going to need to read it several times to be prepared for any sort of test. A test? It’s like being back in school. Still, there’s been changes to the Road Code over the years so it won’t hurt me to brush up on it.
The next article will be on the actual examination and theory test. In between I’ll do my (hopefully) last ‘A’ drive and then be ready. Time to start swotting the books.