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A Workshop with Paul Baker (Examiner for IAM)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Crewe Police Station on 14th June, 2011

Feedback from an examiner is always useful, productive, and beneficial to all members, whether an Associate, Full Member, Group Qualified Observer or Senior Observer.

I should like to thank Paul for his time and expertise in providing that insight from the Examiner's

As a Senior Observer, I allude frequently to Roadcraft, The Highway Code, and Know Your Traffic Signs. I also refer to, and watch, the Roadcraft DVD and Ultimate Driving Craft DVDs by Chris Gilbert.

However, Paul's comments and feedback provided considerable thought provoking stimulation, and what follows are some key points he had to make.


o When joining the motorway, make full use of vision scans and observational links.

o Position the vehicle in the safest position; always give yourself as many options as possible.

o In the extreme, the hard shoulder is an escape route.

o Pick the spot to join the carriageway from the slip road neatly, in order to maintain a position of safety at all times.

o Use an intermediate gear on the slip road: 5th and 6th gears do not give you the range of options.

Which gear will allow you to achieve your objectives?

o If you drive an automatic, override the gears manually where appropriate.

o Use good acceleration sense: process information constantly.

o Use shoulder checks regularly, where appropriate, before changing position in conjunction with mirrors.

o Avoid over use of signals: remember signals are there to benefit other road users,

o Cruise control can be used, where appropriate

o Be aware of your position at all times.

Use the two second rule:

o Gather information when approaching an advisory speed limit before changing speed.

o Exiting the motorway does not mean automatically getting into lane one at the 1 mile marker if following a slow moving HGV.

o Use vision scans: near/ mid/far to plan your exit: look for gaps in the traffic.

o Signal your exit at the 300 yard marker point.

Traffic Lights:

o Remember when turning left at traffic lights, make a shoulder check as well as using both the centre and near side door mirrors, before executing your manoeuvre. This is especially necessary if you have been stopped on red.

Dual Carriageways and Traffic lslands:

o Be confident and competent.

o On entering the traffic island in lane one, exit at lane 1.

o On entering the traffic island in lane 2, exit at lane 2.

o Use both mirror and shoulder checks.

o Don't disadvantage other motorists.

o Make progress to the speed limit, where safe and appropriate, use the road to its potential.

o In yellow hatched areas, only enter if your exit is clear, unless turning right.

o Do not overtake on dual carriageways at pedestrian crossings, it is a driving offence.


o It is recognised that commentary can be detrimental to some associates: their driving falls apart.

o However, a good commentary evidences use of vision scans observation and application of the System of Car Control.

o Practice, whilst driving on your own, in order to develop the skill and your confidence.

o Don't be afraid to make comment on observational links, such as hazards and threats at any point.

General Comments:

o Drive in the examination just as you have been taught.

o Do not be over cautious: forget the nerves.

o Use the System of Car Control at all times.

o Where there are no white lines on unclassified roads: use the margin of the road.

o Check mirrors before changing speed or position.

o Tuck in to the left for right hand bends and be conscious of scarring, pot holes and junctions from the near side. Do not compromise safety.

o Get out towards the white line for left hand bends. Again, do not compromise safety to get into perfect position.

These are just some of the key points. Your Observer is always on hand to support you.

If you have passed your test, you may like a re-appraisal of your driving. So why don't you pick up the phone and ring me: Ian Hughes, Senior Observer on 01270-629284?

A member of the Observer Team will be happy to give you a free assessed drive. Developing our driving skills is an on- going process: it does not stop with passing the exam.

Pick up the phone if you have any questions, or you may want to arrange a free assessed drive for a friend or relative.

Have you thought about becoming an Observer?

If you were an Observer in the past, think about renewing your qualification as a Group Observer.

Once again, many thanks to Paul Baker, IAM Examiner, and PC Tony Hayhurst from Cheshire Police, for arranging the venue at Crewe Police Station and all who took the time and trouble to attend.

Especial thanks to Caralyn, our Group Secretary, who made all the arrangements with Paul.

Ian Hughes (Senior Observer)