With many years behind the wheel under my belt I like to think of myself as an excellent driver but the bible does say pride goeth before a fall.
And by the end of my assessment drive with Mansfield Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) I was well and truly humbled.
It involved a 45-minute drive in my own car around various types of roads in the Mansfield area with group secretary and senior observer Frank Duckmanton.
I was reminded of days long ago as a learner driver when Frank asked me to read a number plate and asked me to show him how I would move safely off from the side of the road.
As we wound our way between Edwinstowe and Warsop he prompted me with questions designed to take in various potential hazards such as there being no footpaths on county roads.
The Roadcraft system which IAM uses is practiced by police advanced drivers and teaches concentration, observation, anticipation and planning.
Said Frank: “The basic principles are to try and recognise a hazard and adjust position, speed and gear to negotiate it as you approach.
“Observations are critical but it is not that you want to do 20mph all the time. You should always drive at the speed limit if it is safe.”
Frank, an ex-project manager, has been a member of the IAM since 1966 and has to undergo testing every five years by police Class 1 qualified drivers.
He, like all other members, is a volunteer.
“I joined because I wanted to see if I could drive to a safe standard,” he said.
“Not everybody can give guidance though - some are good drivers but cannot give guidance.
“The main aim we have is to make people safer drivers.”
So, was I a safe driver? I like to think so but Frank did point out a couple of issues.
One was that changing gear too early actually uses more fuel as it requires more acceleration and a little more anticipation helps avoid heavy braking and forking out for more brake pads.
Apart from the better safety and money saved on wear and tear, members of the IAM’s Skill For Life programme get can cheaper insurance and discounts on tyres and windscreens.
The course costs £139, which covers the initial assessment, course manual, test and first year’s membership.
For more information phone Frank at the Mansfield branch on 01623 822438.
Alternatively, you can visit www.iam.og.uk.