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
As soon as I heard that I had been accepted onto the ‘Skill for Life’ programme, I was initially nervous because I didn’t know quite what to expect. Very soon after being accepted I had my first drive with my Observer, in this he explained the basis of the system of driving which should be used. During this drive I became aware of how many bad habits I had developed; ranging from the common crossing of arms on the steering wheel, to the rather more concerning lack of mirror checks and general observation.
I found that applying new concepts like the system, and new techniques such as sustained-rev gear changes, made my driving much more enjoyable. In every observed drive I was being coached to drive in a much safer way and I quickly decided that this was a far better way of driving. The type of safe driving coached by IAM is not checking mirrors all the time and driving excessively slowly; it is how to handle a car safely at all speeds and in all environments. In fact one of the things my coach was most keen for me to do was to drive faster and make more progress.
When the time came for my test, I was both apprehensive and excited, however the Examiner’s attitude immediately put me at ease. The test was a drive that lasted about an hour and half and all that was required was that I drive the way I had been coached. I actually enjoyed the test and was pleased that my driving was up to the required standard.”
“The ‘Skill for Life’ programme has led to me being a safer and more confident driver and I would thoroughly recommend it to people my age; it allows you to be a safer driver without making driving any less enjoyable.” – Will