Fiona, Wokingham

Fiona from Wokingham

Result: Pass

After being caught speeding, Fiona attended a speed awareness course which highlighted to her the need to improve her driving skills and knowledge of the Highway Code – that in turn led her to an advanced driving course with TVGAM.

My journey began when I was caught speeding. I attended a speed awareness course which was brilliant. However, it highlighted to me the need to improve my driving skills and knowledge of the Highway Code. So, I took the plunge and applied to do an advanced driving course with TVGAM. Something that I will never regret.

I was well outside my comfort zone when I turned up for my first observed run but was soon put at ease. I discovered that I was crossing my arms when turning and not slowing until I had reached the speed limit signs. That began a long struggle to break my bad habits formed during 40 years of driving and learn new techniques.

After a few runs we went into lockdown and I couldn’t practise much so concentrated on background reading – The Highway Code, AA How to Pass Your Theory Test and the IAM Course Logbook plus a couple of books by Reg Local. I used a Forth Bridge approach going back to the beginning once I had reached the end and reading a bit every day. This helped hugely when observed runs started again.

Sadly, my first observer decided not to continue so I was re-assigned to Nicki who quickly brought me back up to speed (no pun intended). Each week we went for a drive, and I seemed to make the same mistakes over and over again. In fact, my favourite comment on a run sheet was simply an exclamation mark next to “Speed Limits”. It said it all!

But gradually the number of 3s decreased and the occasional 1 started to appear on my run sheets. I was working hard practising by going round and round the block working on specific issues such as brake/gear overlap and use of the Limit Point of Vision. I also went on some longer runs on unfamiliar routes and continued reading and watching Reg Local on YouTube and Chris Gilbert’s DVDs.

Once my driving started to improve spoken thought was introduced. My comfort zone instantly became a tiny dot on a distant horizon. But I started talking to myself every time I drove and found that it made me think more about what I could see and what I needed to do about it.

Then – another lockdown. More reading plus some very good RoadSmart e-modules.

Weeks later runs began again and after dealing with some backsliding my driving suddenly reached test standard. I then did a pre-test with Des (our Chief Observer) which was very helpful because I learned what to expect on the test itself, and it confirmed what I was doing well and what I needed to work on. After a couple of final polishing runs with Nicki I went to Bracknell for the test and passed. I didn’t get a f1rst, but I stayed within the speed limit and there were several 1s including spoken thought and steering. So, shyness and bad habits can be conquered. Now I have registered as an IAM RoadSmart Fellow Member and am going to aim for a f1rst when I retake the test in three years. For me the journey is not over.

My advice to associates is:

Listen – your observer knows what he/she is doing.

Take note – comments on your run sheets are there to help you improve.

Read – background reading, watching DVDs and YouTube really helps.

Practise – practise, practise, practise.

Don’t give up – I’m a slow learner, so if I can do it so can you.

Enjoy the challenge – You’re doing something good by helping to make the roads safer.

Good luck!!

After a speeding ticket I took the plunge and did an advanced driving course with TVGAM. I'll never regret it.
Fiona from Wokingham

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