For the first time in their history, the elite Institute of Master Tutors of Driving (IMTD) presented four special awards to individuals and organisations for their special contribution to driver training and road safety. Tracey Hammett is an ADI and instructor trainer whose
work was considered to be exceptional and an inspiration in her approach, dedication and success after sixteen years in the driver training industry. For Tracey, the key to her success and, her driving motto, is to “be yourself”, closely followed by “training, training and more training”. It certainly hasn’t done her any harm, though while she’d love to own a Bugatti Veyron, she openly admits that this is not really a career undertaken for strictly financial reward; that doesn’t diminish the value of the rewards it provides a good ADI. Her words of advice are: “Be yourself, be patient, never think you know it all and, most of all, listen to your students; you can learn just as much from them as they can from you”.

My test lasted about 25 minutes… I had minimal lessons and I thought my instructor was the best. However, when I started training to become an instructor myself, I suddenly realised I had been taught to pass a test and not taught the full syllabus. Even though I’d gained a level of experience riding a motorcycle before driving, when I passed the driving test I still felt as though I wasn’t really ready to be driving a car alone. Instructor standards are a lot higher these days… we are more qualified than in the past, and the digital world provides the latest up to date information instantaneously and we know more now than instructors did years ago. It means there are no excuses for not doing the best job you can do at all times. The training is more involved and the student requires more hours than in the past, which is a good thing, and students have many more resources to practise and study with.

I have been a driver trainer for 16 years… I had a serious crash which was my fault, and I went on a diversionary scheme and it proved to be the best thing that could have happened – better than punishment points and a fine in positively affecting my wayward driving style. It changed my whole outlook on driving and I ended up becoming one of the tutors of the course.

The driving test is improving… we have a way to go, but we are going in the correct direction. New driving instructors are tested more vigorously than in the past, but I still believe that we should have a proper teaching qualification included into the standard instructor training. My next journey is to incorporate a teaching qualification in my instructor training, better equipping new ADIs to teach their pupils.

I do not think young drivers are unfairly singled out… driving instructors and examiners can only do so much, drivers have to take some responsibility for their actions. Any changes in the law or the driving standards will make a difference, but the biggest one has to be the driver, their attitude and the phrase common sense in actions behind the wheel.

I have never been poorly rewarded as a driving instructor… it does depend on your point of view on the word ‘reward’. If you go into driver training purely for the money, then you are the wrong person for the job. If you do not think that witnessing a pupil pass their driving test first time is rewarding, or a pupil’s parent who asks you for advice one day then you see that same parent reverse bay parking in the local supermarket using your tips, then do not come into this industry. The best thing of all about this job is being part of someone’s milestone achievements in life, and I class that as the biggest reward.

The job has changed for the better… so have I, gaining extra qualifications and attending CPD events has helped me evolve. Younger students, on the other hand, take a little longer to get the hang of what is actually required, and seem
more shocked about the level of responsibility involved.

Road Safety is not a top government priority… even as an ADI I do not think we are recognised by the general public as professionals; we just teach people to drive. Because they can drive, teaching it must be easy and not that important.

Our voice could be greater if we all stood together… if we took a couple of hours out in the week to join a local group or actively participate in our industry. Then there would be more feedback for the larger organisations and associations to deliver to Parliament, or represent our views to the government on
our behalf.

More should be done to assess and improve licensed drivers… I think you should have a driving assessment and a theory test quiz at certain stages throughout your driving career. However, if funding or subsidy was not made available for this then you would be hard pressed to get the general public to support any political party who suggested it.

This year I won an award from the IMTD for work as an ADI… it’s the pinnacle of my career as a driver trainer. I have worked very hard to get to this position, and this award will be very helpful in providing me with a stronger platform to get the road safety message across in a local context. I think the secret to my success is very simple, I am myself. I try to keep things as simple as possible. Pupils are very vulnerable, we must put them at ease, cut the nerves so they can concentrate on the learning process. As teachers, our work is rewarding in many other ways then just financial, and that should be our focus. We are also part of a community within the community, so support your colleagues by joining your local instructor group.