The Information phase is, arguably, the most important of the five, because, without it, the other phases will not come properly into play. Information means both the giving and taking of information from the outside world. We can give information by use of indicators, (on the other hand, how many times have you indicated a turn to nobody?), lights, horn warnings, etc. We take information by, amongst other things, looking out of the windows (all of them!), listening for potential danger, or even noting the smell of fuel on the road. If we do not do these things well enough, then our driving will become, like most drivers’, reactive, instead of the planned approach that should be adopted. Continuous assessment of information runs through every phase of the system.
Once we have identified a hazard, i.e. anything that would cause us to deviate from our present course or speed, we next position the vehicle such that we have maximum visibility through the hazard. Both near and offside positions can be used within the allowances of the road markings. You may need to move to the offside when determining the suitability to overtake on a straight road, or entering a left handed bend. Moving to the nearside can be useful to see past traffic as it travels round a long radium left handed bend, or to avoid an oncoming vehicle in a ‘three abreast’ situation.
Once our position has been achieved, the vehicle speed is then brought to the level required for the hazard in a single braking manoeuvre. Please note that there is no changing of gears during this phase, so it may become necessary to dip the clutch to prevent the engine from stalling. The I.A.M. does not support the use of slowing down by using the gears in a modern car, or bike, for two main reasons. First, the brakes on a modern car can provide more braking effort than the gearbox. Second, brake pads are relatively inexpensive compared to a gearbox. The mathematics speaks for itself.
Once the correct speed has been achieved, a single gear change is employed that will take the vehicle through the hazard. ‘Block’ changes are encouraged by the IAM system. Double-declutching is not a requirement, although it is noted that its use can both smooth gear changes and reduce clutch and gearbox (particularly synchromesh) wear.>
Once the hazard has been negotiated, the advanced driver will then accelerate firmly to the required speed. Please note that this does not mean taking the engine to the redline before every gear change. However, please note that in most modern petrol engine cars, 4000rpm may not be unacceptable depending upon the vehicle (diesel vehicles, Hondas and bikes are different).
Consistent use of this System will allow the driver to plan his or her, driving further ahead, eliminating much of the ‘reactive’ nature so prevalent on our roads. Its use as a planning aide, will make the journey feel smoother, reduce stress levels and reduce fuel consumption. It is also one of the greenest ways to drive. The reason is that periods of acceleration are minimised, momentum is conserved (which minimises the requirement for acceleration) and gear changes are minimised.