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
My reasons for taking the Skill for Life were both professional and personal.
During my work as Procurator Fiscal for Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, I am afraid that I saw the results of bad driving on our local roads. We have a high proportion of road traffic deaths and each case marks the waste of a life and the tragic consequences which that has for families and friends. Anything which can be done to raise the standard of driving among drivers of all ages can only help. I am convinced that the IAM approach can improve driving and help reduce the damage caused by bad driving in Dumfries and Galloway.
From a personal point of view, I realised that I had picked up a number of bad habits in 25 years of driving. The Skill for Life programme has helped me to review the way I drive and take steps to get rid of my bad habits. It has not been easy, but it has been very worthwhile.” – John