I’m Thinking About Becoming an Advanced Driver

Why would I want to be an advanced driver?

Many people think that being an Advanced Driver will allow them to drive faster. This is not necessarily the case. Advanced Driving is all about skill, control and forward thinking. It may transpire that you become a faster driver, but that does not permit you to break the laws of the road!

By becoming an Advanced Driver you will join a Group of drivers who have been shown to be statistically 50-70% less likely to be involved in an accident. Your passengers, your family and other road users will also benefit from your Advanced Driving in many ways.

How much does it cost to become an advanced driver?

As mentioned elsewhere, the IAM’s Advanced Driver programme is entitled the Skill for Life Programme. To apply for this Programme, a simple application form needs to be completed and sent FREEPOST to the IAM, along with a payment of £139.00.

Included in the cost of £139.00 is your first years membership of the IAM, the ‘Skills for life’ manual, and the test fee.” There is an additional cost to cover your membership of the local group which you will need to join (currently £5.00 per annum with SBGAM).

However, the further financial benefits that can be realized after passing your Advanced Driving Test and being a member of the IAM that will often pay for the initial fee several times over. These include enjoying reduced insurance premiums and by being a better driver reducing the risk of being involved in an accident with all that that may entail!

There are several other Member benefits that can be viewed from the IAM ’s web site.

How difficult is it to become an advanced driver?

By their very nature, everyone is different when it comes to learning new skills. Some will pick up new driving techniques quickly whilst others will take more time. However, we have yet to find someone who does not have the ability to grasp these skills and pass their Advanced Driving Test.

Getting to Test standard is not an overnight process. The Observed Runs and practice in-between will all take time and commitment on behalf of the Associate (and the Observer). This being said, the Associate will never be put under any pressure, and the pace of learning will always be set at a rate at which the Associate is comfortable with.

There is no set time limit in which an Associate should be ready to do their Advanced Driving Test, but as a rough guide, most Associates are ready within about three months.

I am a disabled driver; can I become an advanced driver?

Absolutely! The only conditions imposed on becoming an Associate is that the driver has held a full UK or European driving license for at least three months.

Can I be placed with a female observer?

We have both male and female Observers, and usually allocate them to Associates when they become available. Being quite a large district, we often match Associate and Observer based on their proximity. However, if an Associate preferred a female (or male) Observer, we would try to accommodate such a request, although this may delay starting the programme until one became available.

What is an observer?

An Observer is a member of the IAM who has already passed the Advanced Driving test and has chosen to freely give their time to take Associates on Observed Runs. Following an optional Assessment Run, and completing an application form (and payment), we will allocate one of our Observers to work with you on a one-to-one basis.

The Observer and the Associate will agree mutually convenient dates and time to go out on Observed Runs.

What is an associate?

An Associate is anyone (with a full driving license and at least three months driving experience) who has completed a Skill for Life application form and made the appropriate payment to the IAM. At this stage, the applicant is referred to as an Associate. It is only when an Associate successfully passes the Advanced Driving Test that they are proposed for membership to the IAM.

What is an assessment run?

We at SBGAM offer any driver the opportunity to participate in an Assessment Run, without any obligation to proceed to becoming an Associate of the IAM. During an Assessment Run, an Observer from SBGAM will accompany you in your car and over a short drive lasting around 30 minutes, will take written notes on the standard of your driving. At the end of the drive, the Observer will provide you with feedback as to the standard of driving, and provide positive feedback on areas that they believe require further work. Then, using the Observers car, the Observer will demonstrate their driving. During this second drive the Observer will attempt to demonstrate the correct way of driving, particularly in areas they had picked up on during the first drive.

At this point, should the driver want to continue to improve their standard of driving, they will be invited to apply for the Skill for Life Programme through the IAM.

What is an observed run?

When an Associate has gone through the formalities of applying for the Skill for Life Programme, and been allocated an Observer, they will then do a number of Observed Runs with their Observer. During these Runs, the Observer will carry out continuous assessment of the standard of driving, providing feedback and guidance at suitable times during the drive, or at the end of the drive if more appropriate.

Although there are no set number of Observed Runs, on average, an Associate should expect approximately 6 such Runs before being put forward for the Advanced Driving Test.

I have just passed my driving test, can I do my Advanced Driving test straight away?
Having just passed the standard driving test, we prefer potential Associates to put their newly acquired skills into practice before taking up the Skills for Life programme. We therefore recommend at least a three month gap after passing the standard driving test before proceeding.

Whose car do I use for the test?

Throughout the Observed Runs and the test itself, you use your own car. If you have access to more than one car, it is advisable to use the same car for both the Observed Runs and for the test.

Can I take my test in a mini bus?

SBGAM only have facilities for preparing drivers of cars for the Advanced Driving test. However, there are other Groups who do provide for motor cycles, minibuses and commercial vehicles. Please visit the IAM’s website (www.iam.org.uk) for further details.

What is The advanced driving test?

When both the Associate and Observer feel confident about the standard of driving, the Associate will be put in for their Advanced Driving Test. Often, before the Associate is put forward for the Test, they will be taken for a ‘mock test’ with one of the other Observers of the Group. This is usually done to ensure that nothing has been missed by the main Observer.

On applying for the Test, and depending on the availability of Examiners, a test date will be given, usually between two and four weeks after the Associate is put forward.

The Test is then taken in your own car by an IAM appointed Examiner who holds a Police Advanced Driving Certificate. The Test lasts for approximately 90 minutes, covering approximately 35 miles over all types of roads (motorway, dual carriageway, country and urban).

Although some people may find the thought of being examined by a Police Advanced Driver a little daunting, it should be pointed out that they will quickly put you at ease and will take into account a level of nervousness during the Test.

When will I know if I have passed my test?

At the end of the Test the Examiner will provide a briefing of the drive and will inform the Associate whether they have passed or failed. Within SBGAM we have a very high pass rate, so it is very rare that an Associate will have failed.

In the unlikely event of a failure, this is usually down to a simple (albeit critical) mistake. In such circumstances we strongly encourage the Associate not to give up; to take some further Observed Runs; and re-apply for their Test.

For successful candidates (the majority), they will be presented with a certificate of accomplishment and be proposed for IAM membership.

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