IAM Roadsmart and the 207 affiliated Groups in the UK are committed to improving road safety through education and training, which culminates in trainees, or Associates, as they are known, taking the IAM Test. The aim is to produce drivers and riders who are more capable of avoiding causing accidents to themselves as well as avoiding many of the hazards presented by other road users.
Nowhere in the UK is this capability needed more than in Dumfries & Galloway. As the Dumfries & Galloway 2005-2008 Road Safety Plan outlines, in 2004, on the roads of Dumfries & Galloway there were 488 crashes of which 9 resulted in fatal injuries, 92 in serious injuries and 387 in slight injury. There were 631 casualties in total, which include 86 pedestrians, 37 motorcyclists and 16 pedal cyclists. Many of these include young people under 25 years of age. Sadly, there appears almost to be a general acceptance that road traffic crashes are a part of life. Unfortunately, it is often too late before people realise the devastation that road crashes have on the people involved, as well as their families.
Injuries sustained in a crash can be disabling, with the casualty having long-term physical and psychological health problems. As well as the high price of the human factor, there is also a large monetary cost involved that affects everyone. The estimate of the cost of a fatal injury is almost £1,500,000 and the total cost of the injuries sustained within Dumfries & Galloway in 2004 is estimated at over £36,000,000.
It is against this background that the voluntary work by the Dumfries and Galloway Group of Advanced Motorists and Motorcyclists in trying to improve Road Safety throughout the region is so important. Everything the Group achieves in improving driver and rider training is done without central or local government support. Group income comes from membership subscriptions and from a small amount of sponsorship, which is insufficient to achieve all our aims. The cost of enrolling on the IAM course is £175, which is paid centrally to IAM Roadsmart Headquarters in Welwyn Garden City. This covers membership fees, the cost of course material and an examination fee. The Dumfries & Galloway Group derives no income from the course fee and all our training is provided free of charge by local IAM Roadsmart Members who are known as Observers.
If we are to make a noticeable difference to the safety of the people within Dumfries & Galloway there is so much more we need to do. At present we have around 100 Members and we can train about 40 Associates each year to Test standard. We need to significantly increase our numbers, and especially the number of Observers we have. These are Group Members who have already taken and passed the IAM Test and who have been further coached so that they can train Associates. We also need to provide these Observers with better tools and facilities so as to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their coaching. If we had more funding we could train around 100-150 Associates each year, with increases year on year, as we continue to grow in size. In a few short years, at this rate, the impact of our efforts will be felt and this will translate in a marked reduction in the number of crashes on our roads.
To help us make this step change we need your help to invest in the following areas:
If you can, please help us in any way to achieve this worthy goal, donations can be made by contacting the Group Secretary. Alternatively, corporate donations through payroll giving can be made via the charitable web site. You can view our profile on this site by visiting http://iamdumfries.smartchange.org
A number of reasons led to me signing up to the course. I think anyone would be crazy to rest on their laurels and say they know everything. I also hadn’t driven solidly while I was at university and found that I was not as confident in a vehicle as I should, or would like to, have been. My thoughts were “nothing ventured nothing gained”. The absolute worst that could happen would be I came out with a few new skills. Seemed like a ‘no-brainer’.
At the beginning I thought it may turn out to be a bit of a waste and that ‘oh well I’d just get my certificate and everybody would be happy’. I had the impression that the course would simply iron out bad habits such as crossing hands rather than teaching anything.
My first observed drive was obviously quite nerve-racking. No commentary necessary and no major talking from Charles made me fairly comfortable and confident thinking I was sailing through. Until we came to a stop and Charles started going through my drive with a fine tooth comb. What a shambles!
I soon realised I had a lot of work to do. The one thing with driving is it becomes second nature and we start becoming blasé about the decisions we make, changing gear, clutch etc. So now when you have to change the way you’ve been subconsciously functioning it becomes so difficult and almost unnatural. This is coming from me who is still a relative youngster so I can’t even imagine what it would be like for an older person.
Eventually things did start to kick into place, this System teaches you that the more prepared you are, the more information you can take in advance, the better you will deal with the actual event and similar events to follow.
I absolutely would recommend this course to anyone and actually everyone. It does give you that little extra bit of confidence. Not many people admit or believe they are a bad driver, but if the only thing they could improve was their observation skills they would soon identify more hazards including the risks other people take, and this in turn would lead to they themselves starting to drive in a very different way.” – Lawrence