Hitting the roads - in a bid to be safer

C130151-3 Chi IAM Lesson  phot kate''Reporter, Olivia Lerche given instructions by Dennis Clement from Chichester's Instutute of Advanced Motoring.Photograph by Kate Shemilt.C130151-3
C130151-3 Chi IAM Lesson phot kate''Reporter, Olivia Lerche given instructions by Dennis Clement from Chichester's Instutute of Advanced Motoring.Photograph by Kate Shemilt.C130151-3
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MOST of the accidents on our roads are caused by young, inexperienced or vulnerable drivers.

Once they’ve got their license, and the keys to a car, the road is theirs. For some, it might be their first taste of real freedom.

This is the reason a dedicated group of volunteers are urging young people to come forward to make driving a safer and more rewarding process.

Skill for Life, an advanced driving course introduced by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, is designed for everyone from keen drivers who enjoy a jaunt in the motor to those who simply use the car to slog to the shops.

“You will enjoy the process of driving much more as a result of doing the course,” said Dennis Clements, chairman of the Chichester district group of advanced motorists.

“You will also be much safer on the roads,” he said.

“If you drive to the standard that we teach, you will be ten per cent less likely to be involved in an accident,” said Dennis.

“Now that is a government figure.”

Dennis has been an observer for the charity for nine years and is kept busy advising and directing new members in their driving habits.

Each person who joins is allocated with an observer who will prepare then for the test.

“We all pick up bad habits after years of driving, but this course helps to iron those out,” said Dennis.

The IAM was founded in 1956, and the Chichester group has just celebrated 40 years of helping to make people safer on the roads since it was set up in 1973.

“The test is not a scary process, but it’s not easy,” said Dennis.

“We do manage to have fun while we’re out on the road, people often find they really look forward to their lessons.

“You can have as many sessions as you need - before we put you in for the test we always give a practise test drive and a second opinion.”

The test gives a ‘thorough work out’ of driving ability, with the desired end result being a brisk but smooth drive at the legal limit, understanding and dealing with road hazards.

“We just really want to attract younger drivers. We have had some interest, but it could be something a lot more people might be interested in doing if they knew about it - especially if they want to apply for jobs in the police or similar.”

Once the driver has passed the test, members can join as associates which allows them to participate in all the group events, such as manoeuvring competitions which ’bring out the competitive streak in all of us’, said Dennis.

Visit the Chichester group’s mobile display unit at Northgate Car Park, Chichester, every second Sunday morning of each month from March to December. Observers and drivers will talk through any aspect of Advanced Motoring including how to become a Qualified Observer.

For more information about the Institute of Advanced Motorists, visit www.chi-iam.co.uk