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21/11/2012 at 7:24 PM #9929
Both the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) offer advanced riding qualifications. These are obtained by taking a test, both of which involve an assessment of your riding by a serving or ex-Police Advanced motorcyclist.
The tests examine are similar to the DSA riding test, in that you will be followed by your examiner who will provide directions over a radio (although some still prefer not to use radios, and rely solely on giving early indication of the route to be followed for you to see in your mirrors!). As with the DSA test, you will be expected to ride in accordance with the Highway Code, but you will also be expected to ride in a systematic way – applying the principles and techniques outlined in Roadcraft – the Police Rider’s Handbook. The route you take will also include more challenging roads – national speed limit country roads, fast dual carriageways and motorways – as well as lasting longer, around 90 minutes. Your riding will also need to be at a higher standard too, with the emphasis on smooth, consistent progress. You will be expected to ride your motorcycle in the best position, in the right gear, at the right speed for the road and traffic conditions. This includes positioning correctly for good progress through bends, before during and after overtaking, and during filtering should the situation arise where there is advantage to be safely gained by doing so.
But which is best, IAM or RoSPA?
Given that both tests are examined by an (ex)-Police Advanced Rider and follow the same philosophy as per Roadcraft, you would be correct in thinking they are similar. But they differ in a couple of important aspects. The IAM test is a “once for life” test – passing this test grants you membership of the IAM for life – subject to you paying your annual membership fee. The RoSPA test includes membership of RoADAR – the RoSPA Advanced Drivers And Riders part of RoSPA – but the test must be retaken every 3 years (in addition to an annual membership fee). The IAM test is ungraded – i.e. it is a simple pass/fail test – the RoSPA test is graded as Bronze, Silver or Gold. An IAM pass is roughly equivalent to a RoSPA Bronze, although of course some riders will pass the IAM test with riding of a higher standard. A RoSPA Gold is widely recognised as being the highest standard of riding that could be demonstrated outside the Police service (with the Police the only place that pursuit standard riding can be demonstrated!).
The IAM test costs £95 including 12 months membership of the IAM (annual membership thereafter is £28 I think). The local IAM Groups offer a “Skills for Life” Course, delivered by volunteer observers trained by the local group for £139, with the course spread over a couple of months.
The RoSPA test costs £54 including 12 months members of RoADAR (annual membership thereafter is £22.50 which includes re-test fees). The local RoSPA Groups offer “free” tutoring to help you prepare for your RoSPA test, provided you join the group and contribute to your volunteer tutor’s costs.
It should be noted that both the IAM and RoSPA groups use volunteer riders to advise you on your riding and to help you prepare for your test. These volunteers will all hold an advanced riding qualification (IAM or RoSPA) and will have been trained by the local group to perform the task, but they are not professional instructors and few hold any formal qualifications in instructing. Availability of these volunteer-delivered courses can also be an issue. Remember all the time you delay improving your riding waiting for a course to be available you are not getting the best from your riding!
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