The IAM 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 £85, which is paid centrally to IAM Headquarters in London. 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 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
The demonstration drive was interesting, and I have to admit I thought, “but I drive like this anyway, more or less”. Then came the first observed drive, and the feedback, and the uncomfortable revelation that my driving wasn’t perfect
Over the next few weeks, with infinite patience and great skill, my Observer observed, commented, guided and praised until “The System” slowly dawned, came together, made sense. Right speed, right position, right gear, right frame
of mind. Careful observation worn like a seat belt. Searching for the perfect gear change, the precise steering movement, finesse in everything. Learning to predict traffic behaviour like a motoring psychic.
When I successfully completed the test, I was really pleased, and knew I had achieved something important. But of course this was still near the bottom of the learning curve.
This is without doubt one of the best decisions I have made, and has not only improved my driving, but also my attitude in the driving seat. In a paradoxical way, greater awareness of the sometimes strange and irrational behaviour of others can actually result in a more tolerant attitude. And certainly greater insight into one’s own driving makes for a safer and more relaxed experience. – David