I took my first IAM Advanced Driving test about 15 years ago because I was a nervous driver. It terrified me that every day I was driving to work knowing that my life was in the hands of other drivers and that at any point one of them could become distracted at the wheel and just plough into me – or that was how I saw it. Having completed the training, I took the test, passed and was thrilled. I’d gained a lot more confidence and now had strategies to avoid such outcomes and could observe and anticipate situations so that I was in control.
Fast forward 15 years and I had given up full time for very part time work. I had always been keen to continue to develop my driving and was aware that some of the old bad habits had crept back into my technique. So, one evening I attended a meeting of the Cornwall Advanced Drivers (having kept up my membership of the IAM) and realised that as well as working on my driving, I would love to train to become an Observer. I had some extra time in my week and thought it would be a great way to “give back” a little of what I’d gained from my previous Advanced Driving course.
It also occurred to me that, as a woman, one can sometimes feel very vulnerable sitting alone in a car with a man whom one has never met. There was also a shortage of female Observers in CAD so maybe I could start to redress the balance a little…….?
I was introduced to my CAD Observer – who was to be my mentor during my training. After a few Observed Runs (OR’s) he suggested it might be helpful to retake my Advanced test to shape up my driving again, and since the test has now changed from the simple Pass or Fail result of years ago – perhaps I should try for a First. This sounded very daunting and exciting – a real challenge to get my teeth into!
We embarked on a series of ORs and I LOVED it! With his unfailing encouragement and skilled tutoring, I gradually became more confident in my reading of the road and in the handling of my car until, after a few weeks he suggested I apply for the test.
Now let’s face it – any exam is rather tense to say the least, but after a few minutes in the car with the Examiner I was focused on the job. He was very clear and easy to follow, and I even enjoyed it towards the end of the run. I got that First and felt I really had achieved something to be proud of.