Institute of Advanced Motorists

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IAM car drivers badge

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is a charity based in the United Kingdom and serving nine countries, whose objective is to improve car driving and motorcycle riding standards, and so enhance road safety, through the proper use of a system of car and motorcycle control based on Roadcraft (commonly "the System"). The IAM merged its commercial arms into one organisation in April 2010 called "IAM Drive & Survive" which offers online and on road driver training for companies of all sizes.[1]

The IAM was formed in 1956 and has more than 100,000 members, all of whom have taken and passed an advanced test in a car, commercial vehicle or on a motorcycle. The IAM has recently introduced an initiative offering cyclists coaching and guidance, based on a new manual "How to be a better cyclist".


The organisation was formed in March 1956.[2]

In 2006, two new assessments were introduced: DriveCheck and RideCheck. These checks provide the opportunity to have your driving or riding ability assessed by an IAM observer. DriveCheck and RideCheck are not, however, a test. There is no pass or fail. At the end of 2006 the organisation formed the IAM Motoring Trust and took over the work of the AA Motoring Trust which had been formed by The Automobile Association in 2002.[3]

In 2007, the IAM sought to address the needs of all road users by introducing Bicycle Training, primarily aimed at the corporate market. IAM Cycling will provide professional training for people wanting to improve their cycling ability, skills and confidence and in doing so, increase the numbers of people cycling to work. In 2010, IAM Cycling was strengthened with the publication of "How to be a better cyclist" (the third in the IAM Series, the others being "How to be a better driver" and "How to be a better rider"). THE IAM now offers a special Cycling membership that includes insurance cover.

Market research suggested the title Institute did not appeal to younger drivers, so the initials "IAM" have been used increasingly. In 2011, reducing the queue for the advanced test itself has become a priority.

The IAM also has a commercial subsidiary that provides occupational driver risk management products and services to the UK business community who have a duty of care to employers to ensure they are competent and safe. This business is IAM Drive & Survive.


The Institute of Advanced Motorists Limited was incorporated on 10 March 1956 as a company limited by guarantee.[4] A separate "Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists" was registered in 2006, although it rarely or never features in IAM publications.[5] IAM is privately owned, holding no shares. It is registered as a charitable organisation in Scotland, England and Wales. Its official purpose is to improve the standard of driving and the promotion of road traffic safety for the public benefit, in particular by (but not limited to), the operation of an advanced driving test.[6]

The institute is organised on two levels: there is a head office on Chiswick High Street, London; and more than 217 local groups in the UK.[7] Other groups are in Australia, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal and Turkey.[8] Local groups are largely independent, setting their own fees, meeting times and places. Some groups cater for all vehicles, while others may be car or motorcycle-only.

Nigel Mansell, a former World Champion in Formula One, became President in 2006.[9] The Chief Executive is Simon Best.


To become a member, one needs to pass the advanced test. There are seventeen exemptions,[10] mostly for drivers qualified in the UK emergency services or military. Trainees are called associates, and instructors observers.

Membership fees are paid to both head office and the local group. As of 2011, full membership is renewable annually at £32 to head office, and many local groups charge around £20 yearly. Associates pay £139 once to the Head Office to join, which includes the first attempt at the advanced test.

Despite the name Advanced, only a few months' experience (one year in Northern Ireland, because of speed restrictions on newly qualified drivers) are necessary to become an associate owing to the emphasis on training


The IAM's objectives are to increase road safety by improving driving standards. The IAM logo is available in four colours, three of which represent the types of advanced test category: Red (Car), Green (Motorcycle), Dark Blue (Commercial).

Advanced driving test[edit]

The IAM offers the advanced driving test. It is run independently, and does not affect the driving licence from the country where the associate lives. The test is significantly more difficult that the standard driving test, but is within the reach of most drivers with the right guidance. The techniques are based on the UK police driving manual.

Reasons for attempting the test include safety, or simply as a status symbol: in the UK, it is well known and often provokes respect for one's skill, although advanced drivers must still comply with normal rules of the road. Motor insurers normally award a small discount on premiums (typically 10%), although it may not necessarily recover the costs of completing the test. It may also appeal because the associate can improve their skill as an individual, avoiding bland assumptions of risk based on statistics.

It is marketed under the name Skills for Life to emphasise the purpose of preventing fatalities and the length of time someone may be driving for.

Research normally concludes advanced drivers are safer and have better fuel efficiency. For example, a study by Brunel University found advanced drivers who had been through the IAM system of car control were nearly 70% better in all aspects of their driving – from steering to judging distances and speed.[11] Earlier research by the Transport Research Laboratory that concluded drivers are less likely to crash if they have reached a measurable higher driving standard.[12] Much research is conducted or funded by IAM themselves.

400,000 people have attempted the advanced test, and the pass rate is around 75%.[13]


Before attempting the test, associates complete a training programme with volunteers called observers provided by the local group, and arranged at mutually convenient times. IAM suggest six lessons may be enough to pass,[7] but time taken varies and there is no maximum. Associates use a textbook called How to be a Better Driver.

Observers are not paid for their time, although motorcycle associates may reimburse their observers for fuel. (In motorcycling, the associate and observer drive separate vehicles.) Observers are trained internally; although IAM are considering making observer status a qualification recognised externally. Some observers are professional instructors or hold the RoSPA Diploma in Advanced Instruction. There are some senior observers in each group.

As with any road situation, legality and paperwork (including licence, insurance, and vehicle inspection) is the driver's responsibility. In particular, motorcycle observers are advised to check they are insured for that purpose, since they drive their own vehicle.

Test procedure[edit]

The test lasts for approximately 90 minutes and covers about 30 to 40 miles (48 to 64 km) and including urban and rural areas; and motorways and/or dual carriageways (as available), to test the candidate in a wide range of conditions, each with different hazards. The examiner is a serving or retired police officer who holds a Police Advanced Driving Certificate (or holds the Police Driving Instructor Certificate from the UK Home Office).

Tests are marked simply as a pass or fail' they are not graded as with RoSPA. Once the test is passed, the candidate is an advanced driver for life. He or she is not subject to re-testing by IAM, even if their licence is suspended by the government, but relevant motoring convictions must be disclosed on annual renewal of membership.

Other services[edit]

The Special Assessment is at an even higher standard of driving, during which a running commentary is required from the candidate. It is limited to drivers with a clean record.

The advanced test is offered in variants: as an accelerated programme (within three days), membership and the test only (no training), taster sessions, and assessments for drivers over 55.[14]

Motor insurance offered through Adelaide Insurance, which expressly covers observing for IAM.

IAM Motoring Trust[edit]

The IAM Motoring Trust, incorporating the AA Motoring Trust, is the policy and research division road safety of the IAM.[15] It was formed in 2006 to carry out road safety research and advocates for safer roads, drivers and vehicles when the IAM assumed responsibility for the work of the AA Motoring Trust.

The AA Motoring Trust was formed in 2002 after the demutualisation of the The Automobile Association in 1999. The Trust was to carry out the organisation's public interest motoring and road safety work.

The activities of the AA Motoring Trust were then transferred to the newly formed IAM Motoring Trust on 31 December 2006.[3]

The stated objectives of the organisation are concerned with the undertaking of road safety research, the promotion of practical evidence-based policies to improve road safety, the advocacy of safer roads, drivers and vehicles, and the encouragement of responsible motoring.[16]

Campaign for Safe Road Design[edit]

In July 2008, the IAM Motoring Trust became a partner in the Campaign for Safe Road Design which is calling on the UK government to make safe road design a national transport priority.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IAM Drive & Survive". Easier. 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  2. ^ "IAM 21". Autocar: 49–50. 19 March 1977. 
  3. ^ a b "The IAM Motoring Trust". Road and road transport history association. Retrieved 2010-04-29. "The IAM Motoring Trust is a new, independent road safety organisation, which forms the research and advocacy arm of the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) The Trust is taking forward the work of the AA Motoring Trust, which ceased to operate on 31 December 2006." 
  4. ^ "Failure Page". Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  5. ^ "Failure Page". Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  7. ^ a b "Skill for Life". Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  8. ^ "International groups". Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  9. ^ "President - Nigel Mansell OBE". Institute of Advanced Motorists. 
  10. ^ "Exemptions from the IAM test". 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  11. ^ Stanton, N. A., Walker, G. H., Young, M. S., Kazi, T. & Salmon, P. M. (2007). Changing drivers’ minds: The evaluation of an advanced driver coaching system. Ergonomics 50 (8) 1209-1234.
  12. ^ Hoinville, G,Berthoud, R,Mackie, AM (1972). A study of accident rates amongst motorists who passed or failed on advanced driving test. UK Transport Research Laboratory. Report Reference LR499
  13. ^ "Skill for Life". Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  14. ^ "Institute of Advanced Motorists". Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  15. ^ "Policy & Research". IAM. Retrieved 2012-01-22. "The definitive reference guide to life on the UK’s roads has been published by the IAM’s Policy and Research Division, the IAM Motoring Trust." 
  16. ^ "IAM Motoring Trust". IAM. 
  17. ^ "SAFE ROAD DESIGN TO SAVE UK £6BN EVERY YEAR" (Word DOC). Campaign for Safe Road Design. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 

External links[edit]