Advanced driving in an unfamiliar car?

Discussion on Advanced and Defensive Driving. IAM, RoSPA/RoADA, High Performance Course. All associated training. Car training.

Postby Gareth » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:54 am


I'm thinking back to when I passed the RoSPA test and how difficult it seemed - that day I was driving a car we'd quite recently purchased and I think my driving wasn't as good as it would have been if I had been used to driving it. Certainly, at that time, I didn't feel as confident driving it as I'd felt driving our previous car.

This makes me wonder - should an 'advanced driver' be able to pass the IAM or RoADAR test in an unfamiliar car? How much familiarisation time should be enough? What if the driver is used to a fairly standard turbo-diesel and is asked to use a very high power petrol engined car? Or one with very low power? How about going from a very small car to a large estate or executive saloon?
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Postby brianhaddon » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:45 am


I think it depends. For RoADAR if the candidate wishes to obtain a gold, which from the RoADAR web site is described as follows : - A RoSPA gold is the highest civilian driving standard available and the holder will be a master of his or her art. then I think the driver described should be able to use any car (and consequently had previous experience of different cars)

Whereas the IAM test doesn't appear to make similar claims the IAM Special Assessment does.
From the IAM web site - The IAM Special Assessment (soon to be renamed 'The Masters Programme')' for Car and Motorcycle Members is designed to be the ultimate Advanced Driving/Riding challenge for civilian drivers and riders.
It offers IAM Members an opportunity to demonstrate their driving or riding skills to the highest possible standard.

So again a driver worthy of demonstrating such high skills should be able to do so in any car.

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Postby michael769 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:32 am


I agree that in theory an Advanced Driver should be able to drive any vehicle to the same minimum standard esp at RoADAR Gold level.

Having said that any test is an unnatural situation that places the candidate under stresses that are not a normal part of driving - and this inevitably impacts performance. In such conditions it is, IMO, to be expected that being in an unfamiliar car may degrade performance to a greater extent than normal, and as such ideally one would want to avoid driving an unfamiliar vehicle on the test.

Of course everyone reacts to stress differently and some are more impacted by the "test effect" than others.
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Postby jcochrane » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:33 am


I recently had two drives with an HPC gatekeeper one week apart from each other. He felt the first drive in his Porsche 911 was better than the drive in my own Peugeot 207 1.6 diesel :?
Not sure what to make of that. :lol:
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Postby jont » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:41 am


jcochrane wrote:I recently had two drives with an HPC gatekeeper one week apart from each other. He felt the first drive in his Porsche 911 was better than the drive in my own Peugeot 207 1.6 diesel :?
Not sure what to make of that. :lol:

The 911 is easier to drive?
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Postby chriskay » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:43 am


jcochrane wrote:I recently had two drives with an HPC gatekeeper one week apart from each other. He felt the first drive in his Porsche 911 was better than the drive in my own Peugeot 207 1.6 diesel :?
Not sure what to make of that. :lol:


Well, to me, the message is clear; if you wish to drive at your best, you should immediately buy a 911. :lol:
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Postby jcochrane » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:10 am


chriskay wrote:
jcochrane wrote:I recently had two drives with an HPC gatekeeper one week apart from each other. He felt the first drive in his Porsche 911 was better than the drive in my own Peugeot 207 1.6 diesel :?
Not sure what to make of that. :lol:


Well, to me, the message is clear; if you wish to drive at your best, you should immediately buy a 911. :lol:


Good idea...not sure the wife would agree though. :(
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Postby bbllr87 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:49 am


michael769 wrote:I agree that in theory an Advanced Driver should be able to drive any vehicle to the same minimum standard esp at RoADAR Gold level.

Having said that any test is an unnatural situation that places the candidate under stresses that are not a normal part of driving - and this inevitably impacts performance. In such conditions it is, IMO, to be expected that being in an unfamiliar car may degrade performance to a greater extent than normal, and as such ideally one would want to avoid driving an unfamiliar vehicle on the test.

Of course everyone reacts to stress differently and some are more impacted by the "test effect" than others.


Yes. I drove so badly on my advanced test I don't know how I passed. But the examiner said that my overall standard met the requirements and everything else was just nerves. He was praying for the test to end so that he didn't have to fail me on changing gear!
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Postby martine » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:39 pm


chriskay wrote:Well, to me, the message is clear; if you wish to drive at your best, you should immediately buy a 911. :lol:

Absolutely...cheap 911
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Postby ScoobyChris » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:26 pm


martine wrote:
chriskay wrote:Well, to me, the message is clear; if you wish to drive at your best, you should immediately buy a 911. :lol:

Absolutely...cheap 911


I wonder if the interior colour has anything to do with the low price? :D

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Postby Mr Cholmondeley-Warner » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:35 pm


Hehe! :lol:

It's also a 996 which is popularly held to be the least desirable of the 911 range - although they're still pretty stonking cars.
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Postby waremark » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:47 pm


jcochrane wrote:I recently had two drives with an HPC gatekeeper one week apart from each other. He felt the first drive in his Porsche 911 was better than the drive in my own Peugeot 207 1.6 diesel :?
Not sure what to make of that. :lol:

Worthy of HPC Gold?
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Postby waremark » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:57 pm


I think that practicalities prevent most people from having current experience in a range of vehicles, and certainly from taking their test in different vehicles. While it might seem reasonable to think that anyone worthy of the sort of words quoted above for Rospa Gold or IAM Special Assessment would be able to deliver an excellent drive in a range of different vehicles, in practice the examiner will never know, and in many (or perhaps even most) cases it will not be so.

There is a current thread about a certain car club's higher awards. A member of the club once suggested that a holder of the Gold award should be able to get into an unfamiliar hire car at night in an unfamiliar foreign city and deliver an impeccable drive within a few minutes. Needless to say it is not practicable for the award assessors to check out that ability either!
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Postby Grahar » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:02 pm


I definitely think that driving in a relatively unfamiliar car in a foreign city is the best test of advanced driving skill. I've had hairy drives in Milan and Zurich. Nothing beats negotiating unfamiliar roads, with cars all around (normally driving perilously close when abroad) whilst simultaneously navigating and trying to read clusters of road signs.

In the case of Zurich, you also have to be observing if the road the sat nav is tellling you to take is for trams and cars or just trams only! Oh, and making sure you drive the correct side of the plethora of traffic islands you meet at multi-way intersections!

I've always been very grateful for my advanced training in these challenging scenarios!

On a lighter note. I definitely think driving unfamiliar cars should be part of advanced training. May I suggest the idea of IAM group cars; standard 911s for Observers and GT3s for Seniors?! :D
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Postby brianhaddon » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:12 pm


I agree in principle with what has been written. My first response was written with all seriousness although 'pushing the envelope a bit' to see what response it merited. My feeling is that an accomplished driver should be able to get into most cars and drive them (relatively soon) as well as (or at least very close to) his/her own car. There will be models that require a bit more getting used to and we all have off days. Yes a test or assessment will always add pressure to the drive and as Waremark wrote an examiner may never know how well you would cope in an unfamiliar vehicle. There will often be different factors involved. I don't know about anyone else but how many have taken tests in unfamiliar areas? And did that effect your performance? But perhaps I should draw a question back toward the original post and ask what methods you guys have to familiarise yourself with different cars. And just another question - has any one else on the forum driven an unfamiliar car on test?
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