Our Blog

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Another AGM award

Congratulations to Cynthia Merritt
winner of The Chairman's Award
Thank you for all you do for the Group!!

AGM award

Congratulations to John Bowman
This year's well deserved winner
of the Stan Hawkins Award
Well done John!!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Driving and Hayfever

A runny nose, headache and constant sneezing – these are just a few of the symptoms hay fever sufferers deal with during the summer. These symptoms can affect motorists in a number of ways. Here's some advice from IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, about what you can do to better cope with it before taking to the road.            
  • Try to minimise the effects by ensuring your car is clean and dust free and that you operate the air conditioning or ventilation to your advantage, making use of air recirculation where possible.

  • For anyone who hasn't been diagnosed with hay fever and is feeling under the weather, avoid driving or riding and arrange to see your GP as soon as possible. What you might think is just a slight cold can become a major distraction – so get it checked before it gets worse.

  • While over-the-counter medicines will help with a runny nose and sneezing symptoms, a lot of these tend to contain codeine, which can blur vision and make you feel drowsy – check with your GP what the best course of action is.

  • Your GP may advise you to take anti-histamines to control the symptoms, but make sure you take the non-drowsy ones. If you're unsure, read the leaflet or speak to your pharmacy for more advice.

  • If you need to get somewhere but don't feel well enough to drive or ride then see if someone you know can take you and drop you back. Whatever you do don't take yourself - you may just end up sneezing and travelling up to 50ft with your eyes closed and losing control of your vehicle!

    Richard said: "If you are stopped by the police after taking a hay fever remedy and driving whilst impaired you could find yourself falling foul of drug driving regulations.

                                See attached link - https://www.gov.uk/drug-driving-law

"Be sure to check the medication thoroughly and see if it is suitable. But most importantly, concentrate on your route to recovery so you can get back onto the road sooner rather than later."

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Importance of Separation

Skoda Octavia Brake Light
 Anyone who has ever undergone any form of advanced driver training will, undoubtedly, have come across the term 'separation'.  As a term, it is usually applied to braking and gear changing, but could equally include braking and steering, or changing gear whilst steering. By encouraging Associates to separate out these different stages, rather than overlapping them, we align them to the individual stages of the system: "S" for getting the correct speed through application of the brakes  and then "G" for selecting the gear which is appropriate to the speed.

However, it also has a larger purpose. Consider the fact that the only thing connecting your vehicle to the road are the tyres. Whilst that statement is obvious, what you possibly don't realise is that the total surface area of each tyre in contact with the road equates to approximately the size of a CD case. Therefore, by separating out each stage, we are only asking this small amount of rubber to do one thing at a time, rather than desperately trying to slow us down, whilst maintaining enough grip for us to change direction.  The more load we place on the tyres, the more chance we have of them letting us down.  If more grip is used for braking, there will be less available for steering.

Separation also involves planning. One of the common 'faults' that observers find with new Associates is that their vision is not lifted high enough. By not scanning far enough ahead, Associates can sometimes be surprised by upcoming hazards and therefore fail to properly plan for them. Hence, when approaching junctions and stationery objects, they are still braking whilst they should be either steering or changing gear.  Instead, through the proper application of the System of Car Control, where information encompasses all other phases, the Associate will spot the hazard early, plan for it and seamlessly work through the remainder of the System.

All of the above is why we work with Associates as they initially struggle, but eventually master, the separation of braking and gear changing.

Skoda Octavia Gear Stick
However, there are occasions when this is not practical.  Take a left-hand bend at the bottom of a steep hill. No matter how early you start to brake, the moment you engage the clutch (and therefore release engine braking) gravity will force the car to accelerate. Or, consider the situation where a car is following you close behind and you assess that it may be unsafe or confusing to brake too early. In both of these examples, an overlap would be encouraged because it would be planned: information would have been taken in and used to form a driving plan. It would not be rushed, or have the ability to destabilise the vehicle.  In short, the System would not have been compromised.

So, the next time you drive, take note of whether you separate out the stages.  If you don't, but want to develop this as a skill, my suggestion would be to find a quiet piece of road (usually in an estate) where there is the opportunity to do left and right-hand turns and practice your braking and gear changing. You will find initially that you may be braking too early and in the gear before the turning, and occasionally you may be too late. But, with practice, you will master it.  It is certainly something worth working at, and extremely satisfying when you master.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Slow down for Horses - Dead Slow or Dead

Its superb when the weather is pleasant, and we want to go out for an afternoon drive in our beloved vehicle….whether it be a sports car, a classic, or family saloon, if you love driving, you love driving.   Especially hassle free driving.   Motorcyclists I feel are the same….unless their motorbike is their only mode of transport, I'm thinking that the most are "fairweather riders" waiting for weather conditions they feel are appropriate for riding a motorbike.   It's the same with horses for the most owners.   They cant wait to get on their horse and go out for a "hack" or an amble up some wooded Bridlepath.    There's nothing quite like riding a horse – they give you a real "feelgood" factor.    Similar perhaps to the feeling of driving your DB9 Aston Convertible – the "Feelgood" factor.

·        Other than driving, and motorbike riding my favourite past-time is horseriding. Which has been an interest of mine since I was around 10 years old. So a good 40 years. As well as the IAM, I am also a member of the BHS(British Horse Society) who have similar ethics to the IAM - Safety. Road Safety. The BHS have been campaigning "slow down for horses on the road" for a long time. "Dead Slow or Dead?" is their latest road safety campaign.

The latest statistics from the BHS are horrifying but not surprising.

The launch of the campaign, Dead Slow, follows a number of high profile petitions calling for greater protection for horse and rider on the roads following the injury of horse carriage master Mark Evans and the death of his horse Wil, who was hit by a car in Wales a couple of months ago as he pulled a funeral cortege.

Over 200 horses have been killed on UK roads over the last five years which is a horrific number – along with horse fatalities over 30 riders have also been killed in those road accidents..   Im wondering therefore if there's anyway at all that I can get the IAM to join forces with the BHS in this Road Safety Campaign.

A quote from BHS website: Lee Hackett, BHS Director of Policy, said: "We are asking drivers to slow down to 15mph when they see a horse on the road. A lot of people aren't sure how to safely pass a horse when driving, and so we have produced a video showing exactly how it should be done.

It's worth remembering that these statistics are just the accidents reported to us, there will be countless others. Almost everyone who rides horses can recount a story about a time they had a near miss on the roads.

We are campaigning for legislative change, but that can take a long time. That is why we are asking for this instant change in behaviour from drivers.

As mentioned earlier, Im a keen driver, motorcyclist and horse rider…and Ive been involved in a couple of road incidents with my horse.    One resulted in my horse having chiropractor treatment, as he damaged himself trying to "get away" from two road users who thought it would be okay to sound their horns continually as they approached and went past us.   There has been one vehicle in particular, that has been reported to the local police.   He drives a Mercedes and when he sees horses, he speeds up and drives past too close.    On one occasion he took the trouble to turn his Mercedes around and to drive back fast shaking his fist – which is when we got his registration number this is an elderly gentleman and to be frank, he is dangerous.

We ask drivers to pass wide because even the best trained horse MIGHT get "spooked" by something as silly as a squirrel – a horse is a "flight" creature.  They are not predators.    A great percentage of accidents involving horses and cars, happen because the driver drove far too close to the horse.    (I have had cars squeeze past so close ive had to lift my leg a bit to ensure the car didn't get my stirrup scratch it.   This happens when driver from behind cant wait for the oncoming car to come past so they try to overtake the horse instead.

We don't like taking our lives in our hands whatsoever…..we would much rather be riding on bridleways and restricted byways than the road (which is another campaign the BHS are rallying – the re-opening of many Bridleways and other access routes that are not in use.  The BHS request that all riders on the road wear Hi Viz – so we can be seen easier.    A lot of riders have taken to wearing Head Cams too.   These have been very useful in catching a lot of bad drivers.

 IAM drivers however, are different from the "norm" as we are more aware of whats going on around us and also what "might" happen – forward planning and forward thinking so we are prepared in case there's a horse or a tractor around the next bend -   We drive responsibly, and in keeping with the road and weather conditions. As many drivers as possible should be encouraged to go on Advanced Driving courses from the moment they pass their test.

Always remember, that the child on the pony on the road ahead of you, is someones little sister/brother,   daughter/granddaughter……..

I hope as many of you as possible will help us to change the way drivers react to horses on the road, by maybe encouraging your local councils to re-open bridleways and also to encourage more people to take their Advanced Driving Test.

Tina Dolding

·        https://www.facebook.com/bbcbreakfast/videos/1289251597755642/

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Hiring a vehicle abroad

Planning a road trip for your next holiday abroad? Then be sure to read our latest tips from IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, who will guide you through hiring a vehicle abroad.
  • Take some time out to familiarise yourself with the rules and laws of the country you'll be travelling to. The European Commission's website has everything you need to know about differing regulations across continental Europe: http://bit.ly/1fUlidw

  • Don't forget to register your driving licence details beforehand: http://bit.ly/1Mes73Q. Register up to 72 hours before you travel.

  • Upon collection, give the car a thorough inspection. If you spot any signs of wear and tear, damage to the bodywork, windscreen or wheels inform the rental company. If you're still not 100% happy, don't be afraid to ask for another vehicle.

  • Keep some handy telephone numbers with you – particularly of a breakdown recovery service in case of an emergency. And should you inadvertently find yourself on the wrong side of the law, the Foreign Office has some useful information about what you should do: http://bit.ly/1giXBwX.

  • Pack your sat nav and programme in your destination beforehand. But don't forget to switch off any speed camera information as it is illegal to use in many countries.

Richard said: "It's an easy one to overlook, when you're trying to fit your suitcases in the car and the kids need the loo. Again, always check the boot before you drive off. Some countries require a warning triangle by law. Others a high-vis jacket. Do your homework so you know what you need. And make sure you're given it.  

"Also, if you have a smartphone take some pictures of all four sides of your hire car beforehand – this can be useful evidence if any damage claims arise. Have a read of the small print in the hire agreement so you know exactly what is covered, who can drive and what the excess will be. Most importantly, enjoy the drive – happy travelling!"

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Bank Holiday Weekend Test Passes

Congratulations to David Clark, Sarah Lewis and Roland Parrott who have recently passed their Skill for Life challenge.

David, Sarah and Roland attended this months session to pick up their certificates from Chairman Linda Davies. David explained to our current associates that he wasn't sure at first what he'll gain from an Advanced Driving course. He went on to say that he found it most enjoyable and has helped improve his driving. Sarah's goal was to gain confidence on the road and practiced all the time to gain that confidence to pass the test. Roland took our alternative course, who found it helpful and enjoyable.

Congratulations to David, Sarah and Roland. 

If you wish to join David, Sarah, Roland and many others in Kent and become an Advanced Motorist, please visit our website www.kentiam.org.uk.