The Institute of Advanced Motorists is a UK-based organisation, founded in 1956, which developed an advanced driving framework from the police driving manual. It is also in operation in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
While it has a heavy motorcycle focus in New Zealand at the moment, it is beginning to get more traction with cars and heavy vehicles.
Its observers (instructors) help drivers learn the Police and Roadcraft System of Car Control (you can read about it in this book). Once you are at the required level then you take a driving test with an examiner. If you pass, you can join the IAM, and you’re a member for life.
While there’s no financial advantage in terms of cheaper insurance premiums (as of yet), there will be an advantage in learning advanced techniques for staying safe on the road and, in the case of riding a motorbike, staying alive.
When you start taking observation drives you will realise how much you have forgotten that your driving instructor taught you. But IAM observers aren’t really there to look for minor faults – they are there to improve your overall performance of safe, systematic, smooth, progressive and balanced driving. The vehicle should always be in the right place on the road, travelling at an appropriate speed and in the right gear for that speed.
Here’s an example of an observed ride report from my second drive.
I wrote several overviews of my first 4 observation drives, which you can read here:
Read the Roadcraft book, then read it again – there’s a lot in it that you won’t have even considered.
Practise the items that the observer outlines on the observed ride report.
Practise commentary drives. Here’s an example:
Know your vehicle’s gearbox and acceleration characteristics – when to change gear at different speeds
Make it a habit of scanning the road ahead – you’ll need this skill for commentary drives.
The IAM in the UK also gives these 10 tips.
My exam was a 220km drive through urban Auckland, out to Wellsford via SH16 and back into Auckland along the northern motorway. By the end of 150 minutes of intense driving, I was mentally very tired and thankful for some extended practise drives I had done in the months before.