August was a record month for GAM! It’s not just the weather that has broken records, but GAM Associates and Observers as well.
Since the start of 2019 we have sent 28 people for their Advanced Driving test and all of them passed, with 11 gaining F1rst standard, a drive with very few faults.
Then in August we broke another record when we sent 9 new candidates off for their test in the one month. We are really pleased with the progress these Associates have made and the effort put in by them and their Observers in getting up to test standard.
We wish all our candidates the very best of luck in their Advanced Driving test and look forward to seeing them as full members in the very near future.
Like many others I never got around to doing the IAM RoadSmart advanced driver course for a long time. Mainly because as a classic car driver I felt that I was competent on the road and mechanically knowledgeable.
After a taster session with my local group (Guildford Advanced Motorists) I took the plunge and the rest they say, is history.
I became a full member on passing the Advanced Driving Test and joined my local committee and qualified as a national observer (mentoring others). I am currently taking my IAM Roadsmart Masters qualification to continue furthering my knowledge.
I proudly carry the IAM RoadSmart roundel on all the cars I drive. Both my modern car and classic 1955 Morris Minor were used during my driving sessions for the advanced course. At the other end of the spectrum, I’m now doing my master’s course in an electric vehicle.
So, the main question here would be: is the Advanced Driver Course from IAM RoadSmart relevant to an experienced petrol head in a classic, veteran or vintage car? The simple answer is yes in so many ways.
It all begins with the preparation for driving; pre-drive checks and a cockpit check. In a modern car automation helps us, but in a less frequently used classic car the systems deteriorate with time. Making fluid checks, condition checks and brake tests essential and good practice when preparing to drive a classic car.
Then we need to consider the driving process. Most of us will be comfortable with push/pull on heavy non-assisted steering and careful rev-matching during gear changing. But coaching on timing and sequencing of braking, gear changes and steering helps ensure a smooth and progressive journey.
The main aspect of the course that really improved my driving skills was all around observation, anticipation and planning.
So much has changed over the years when classic cars were built in comparison to the cars now. Our cars are now built to deal with busier roads, faster traffic sometimes populated with vehicles that can accelerate, brake, turn and stop virtually instantly. Some are assisted in various ways, and crash with better survivability from each Euro-NCAP safety iteration.
Finally, most of all it is fun and local groups provide a great environment for those who take pride in their vehicles and driving skills. Give it a go and give your local IAM RoadSmart group a call.
Gordon Farquharson Classic and Modern Owner National Observer – Guildford Advanced Motorists (GAM)
You will probably see more horses on the road during the summer months, and more than likely they’ll be on a country lane. Here are IAM RoadSmart’s tips on how best to pass a horse safely on the roads.
Horses are powerful animals and have extremely heightened senses. They are also ‘flight’ animals so if they become scared, they will revert back to their natural instinct.
British Horse Society has reported that nearly two horses are killed each week on UK roads. In last year alone, 87 horses and four people have been tragically killed.
If you’re approaching a horse from behind:
Slow down and hold back. The rider will indicate whether it’s safe to approach and overtake. If they don’t, make sure you stay at least three car lengths behind and be careful to not move into this space. Be prepared to slow down further or even stop to protect yourself and the horse and rider. Avoid any sudden movements and loud noises such as revving the engine and playing your music loudly.
Most riders, and occasionally their horses will be in hi-vis so you should see them and be able to slow down in good time. Remember in the countryside they could be around any corner.
When passing the horse make sure you give plenty of space. We recommend at least a car’s width, and ensure it’s done slowly. Remember to always pass “slow and wide” and stick to 15mph or under. Take a look at this video explaining it from the British Horse Society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJfZM41oUOE
If you’re on a country road and there’s not much room to manoeuvre around the horse, the rider may decide to trot towards the nearest lay by or grass verge. Do not speed up to match their trot; stay back and allow the rider to get to safety before overtaking.
Often when you see two riders it is for safety reasons. This could be an inexperienced rider or nervous animal being coached along by a more experienced companion. Give them some consideration.
Keep an eye on the rider. They will often give signals asking you to slow down, stop or overtake. They will acknowledge you and assist you to pass, but their main priority is keeping themselves and the horse safe, so they’ll be trying to keep their hands on the reins at all times.
Always accelerate gently to pass the horse and when moving away. Both rider and horse may be inexperienced and nervous in traffic; do your bit to keep them safe.
If there are grass verges, many riders will take the option to move themselves up onto them and allow you to pass. Please continue to pass slowly as the noise of your engine can still spook the horse.
If a horse is approaching on the other side of the road:
Slow down completely, and if you come to a stop consider putting on your hazard warning lights for anyone that may be behind you. You may need to stop to allow the horse to pass you safely if it is safe to do so.
Horse rider and IAM RoadSmart’s digital content executive Jaimi McIlravey said: “Please continue to be careful when driving close to horses. From personal experience, it’s not always a car that will spook a horse. You may be driving safely with enough gap between yourself and a horse and rider, however, something else may scare them, so be sure to stay alert.”