When it comes to automotive industry, there seem to be so many different acronyms it can be hard to keep up. BVLRA, FCA, SAF…the list is endless.
And one that you might have come across before is IAM or the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
In this article, we’re going to cover who the IAM are, what they do, and why they are important.
Who are the IAM?
Firstly, let’s have a look at who IAM are. As mentioned above, the IAM is the Institute of Advanced Motorists. They are now called IAM RoadSmart but were originally called IAM. They are a charity based here in the UK, however they work in nine countries around the world.
Their aim is to improve car driving and motorcycle riding standards (and in turn enhance road safety) by using something called ‘the System’, which we’ll come onto later. They were formed in 1956 and currently have over 90,000 members.
These 90,000 members have all taken and passed an advanced test to make their driving experience safer (and many claim more enjoyable) when driving either a car, commercial vehicle or a motorcycle.
IAM became IAM RoadSmart in 2016 when it brought together their work and the work of the AA Motoring Trust under one umbrella.
What is the System?
The System is a ‘roadcraft’ system that is used by police drivers both in cars and motorcycles. It has been used for 75 years by the police and ensures for safer driving and manoeuvring.
It’s essentially based on the system of ‘right place, right time, right speed and right gear’ when it comes to car control and the system itself has remained unchanged for 75 years. It was originally taught at Hendon Driving School in 1937 and reduced the accident rate in the Metropolitan Police by two-thirds. And so, it was adopted everywhere. Police drivers were then trained to be in control of any situation using ‘the System’ of car control they could ensure that they were in the right place at the right time at the right speed in the right gear to clear the hazard safely.
You can buy Roadcraft for both cars and motorcycles online, with several new editions being published with more updated information, taking into account legislation and other changes.
What does the IAM do?
The IAM are essentially a charity to make our roads safer. They do this by hosting a number of courses that you can sign up to in order to become a safer and better driver.
Their vision, according to their website, is “to be the best, most recognised provider of coaching and advice for all post-license drivers and riders – and our mission is to make better drivers and riders.”
They offer courses for motorcyclists, drivers and they also help businesses as well.
What courses do the IAM offer?
There is pretty much a course for everyone and any situation with the IAM.
The Advanced Driver Course is the IAM flagship course, and half a million people have qualified as advanced drivers since the charity began. It takes between three and six months and you learn a range of skills to help improve your control, observation, timing, optimum road positioning and how to react to other road users’ behaviour. You will have to take a test but at the end of it, you are qualified.
There are also many different courses for those who drive for work. These include a general driving for work course, alcohol awareness, avoiding collisions, speed awareness, familiarisation with UK driving, night driving for work and risk assessment. There are also courses tailored to funeral driving to help lower maintenance costs and reduce vehicle damage.
The IAM also offer a course on eco-driving which helps you save on fuel and cut down on your CO2 emissions.
There are also courses for motorcyclists on offer that are pretty much the same as those who drive a car. These include an Advance Rider Course and 2nd Category Advanced Rider course which gives you a formal qualification.
What are the benefits of doing an IAM course?
There are a range of benefits to doing an IAM course and if you ask us, we think they are more than worth it. Here are just some of the advantages;
- You are safer on the road
- Doing an advanced driving course definitely, makes you a safer driver. We all think we’re good drivers and we’re safe on the roads but you can always be better and you can always be safer. The skills you learn on an advanced driving course could save your life or someone else’s.
- People said that it has made driving more enjoyable
- According to IAM, those that have taken part in the course have said it has made driving more enjoyable. We can see this, as the skills you will gain will make driving easier and therefore would naturally enhance enjoyment.
- It can make your insurance cheaper
- IAM report that about 90% of those that take part in the advanced driver course have lower insurance costs after it. This is because you are seen as less as a risk than somebody who hasn’t taken part in an advanced driving course. This makes it particularly appealing for young drivers, whose insurance costs can be sky high.
- If you are a parent, it can reassure you that your child is safe
- Everyone worries about their child when they first pass their test but putting them on an advanced motoring course will help stop you worrying. And if you’re paying for the insurance, it’s a win-win.
- If you own a business, your employees will be safer
- Sending your employees on an advanced course will not only bring the insurance cost of their company cars down, but it will also ensure that they are safer on the roads. Plus, with courses like night driving and alcohol awareness, you can make sure they’re as clued up as possible. It could also make for an attractive incentive to potential future employees.
- When you become a member of the IAM, you receive a range of benefits
- These include access to a membership forum on the IAM website, insurance benefits, RAC cover and a free subscription to the Advance Driving Magazine. Plus you get access to different events and can network with other advanced drivers.
How much do IAM courses cost?
IAM is a charity and run by volunteers, so you can understand that they do have to charge you to take part in these courses. An advanced driver course cost £149 and the cost varies depending on what course you are doing. Some cost less and others more. If you are a business then they can cater packages for you to include your whole fleet of drivers.
Are there any other advanced driving courses I can take?
IAM is generally the most respected and most highly regarded advanced driving course. However, there are others that you might want to research.
Another highly regarded course is the Pass Plus scheme. This was established by the Driving Standards Agency to help build new drivers’ confidence and reduce risks of accidents. Some insurance companies offer discounts on Pass Plus schemes and the government have their own guide to see if your council will offer any discounts on the scheme as many often do. However, these tend to be in the region of £160-200.
It should be noted that insurers nowadays don’t always recognise Pass Plus and therefore it may not lower your insurance as much as you would expect. Of course, your main reason for taking part in the scheme should be safety, but that is something to consider if you are deciding between Pass Plus and IAM.
There are other courses as well, though these aren’t recognised by insurers you might want to look into them anyway. These include ROSPA, which is held by serving or retired police officers. They have a network of local groups and are the only qualification that requires you to retake it every three years to ensure you still have the skills.
So that’s it on the IAM. They are the most highly recognised group for what they do, and they are a great charity. If you are considering doing an advanced driving course then we do recommend it, there are no downsides to becoming a safer and better driver.