Brunel say that drivers coached beyond the L-test are more aware of what is going on around them. This greater awareness is not restricted to just other road users, road conditions, and infrastructure, but the "joining up" of these elements into an overall understanding of their meaning in terms of potential hazards and the appropriate driver response.
Professor Neville Stanton of Brunel's Ergonomics Research Group said: “This was the first scientifically controlled study into the effectiveness of advanced driver coaching by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). We are satisfied that coaching, plus practical on-road assessments and feedback, leads to better drivers. The IAM group were significantly better drivers by the end of the two-year study than either of the control groups, who remained the same or got worse.“
Researchers divided up three groups, each with 25 drivers, matched by gender (seven women and 18 men), age (from 22 to 65, with an average age of 44), annual mileage (typically 13,000 miles per annum), driving experience (an average of 23 years) and points on licence. Together they were "observed" for more than 650 hours at the wheel.
The group that was coached by "observers" showed measurable improvements in all three areas of driver competence: knowledge of what was going on around them, skills applied to the driving tasks, and attitude towards driving.
IAM Chief Examiner Peter Roger, said: “Just because you have had a few more years on the road, it doesn't mean that your attitude to driving is any more healthy. We know that by working on the skills of drivers, they cannot help but start to re-evaluate their ability to spot hazards early and this leads to safer driving. Advanced drivers are also less prone to the frustrations that lead to road rage.“
The IAM commissioned Prof Stanton, Dr Guy Walker, Dr Tara Kazi and Dr Mark Young to carry out the research. The team concluded that nearly 70% of drivers who received advanced coaching showed significantly safer skills in a number of key areas, including speed, safe distances, cornering, gear changing, seating position, and use of mirrors, according to the scientific comparison of normal and advanced drivers.