As a motoring journalist, I have to take my driving very seriously so I’ve paid experts to teach me how to drive on a racetrack and on the road, to make sure that I’m safe and as objective as possible.
I’ve spent thousands of pounds (and had an awful lot of fun!), yet the most significant return on my investment has been with the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
Jeremy Clarkson’s view of the IAM that it teaches people to drive slowly, shuffling the wheel through their hands as they give a running commentary in a adenoidal, judgmental drone is just plain wrong. I took the Skill For Life advanced driving course in 2012, and became such a passionate advocate of the IAM that I later volunteered to work as an observer, helping others to pass the test.
I found the course life changing and quickly embedded its structured approach to driving into my everyday life.
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The Mature Driver’s Assessment
The Mature Driver’s Assessment is a 60-minute evaluation of your driving style. It’s carried out in your own car and on roads that you are familiar with; the aim is to help you, not intimidate you!
At the end of the session you’ll be given a confidential report that recognises what you do well in addition to giving you advice on what you might be able to do better.
These pointers might be enough to give your driving a boost and help you iron out any bad habits, making you even safer and more confident.
The Mature Driver’s Assessment costs £49 and can be booked online.
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The Advanced Driver Course
The Advanced Driver Course is based on the same skills that the police teach their advanced drivers, and while you won’t find yourself overtaking queues of traffic and going around roundabouts the wrong way, you will find yourself a smoother and more competent driver than ever before!
You will use your own car on local roads, with your IAM observer coaching you through the areas that you might improve on and helping you build on your strengths.
It typically takes between six and ten hour-long sessions to take an experienced driver up to the required standard and get them ready for their end-of-course examination.
The Advanced Driver Course, which costs £149.
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Further Advanced Driving
For those who have a passion for advanced driving and who have completed the IAM Skill For Life, I can wholeheartedly recommend CAT Driver Training.
Based at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, Colin and Jo Hoad provide a variety of training courses depending on your existing skill level and motivation. I’ve started the Performance Driving Course, and while it isn’t cheap, I’ve come away with a growing awareness of what is involved in mastering car control, as well as some very useful new skills.
If you love driving (and especially if you own a performance car or enjoy track days) you won’t find a better place to invest in your training. My only caveat is that their training is addictive, and you’ll find yourself constantly striving to do more, and more, and more…