ADVANCED DRIVING IN CANADA (part 2) by S. Rolf-Dickinson

You may remember from my previous piece that I am here in Canada for a two year work contract. Partly motivated by the incredibly expensive insurance, and partly just wanting to learn as much as possible about Canadian driving, my husband & I signed ourselves up for an Advanced Driving course. IAM it wasn’t, but it was nevertheless very interesting, and we learned some very useful skills.

There is no direct equivalent to IAM in Canada, so we enrolled on the Ian Law Car Control School, which claims to be the most advanced driver training system in North America. Ian Law comes from a motor racing background, and has raced since 1984. Several of the other instructors also had motor racing backgrounds.

The course was a day long intensive course, with 50% classroom learning and 50% practical driving. The practical sessions took place in a large empty car park, which had three dedicated zones set up. Everyone had an instructor sat in the car with them at all times through the exercises, so we were fully supervised.

The first exercise I did was the simulation of a child running out in front of the car, which was basically a braking and steering exercise (collision avoidance) around cones. The objective was to get the ABS to kick in so that we could experience steering with that level of braking. Everyone did the exercises in their own cars, so we all fully appreciated by the end of the day how our cars handled.

The second exercise was to induce a skid. This was done by driving in a circle, gradually increasing speed. We experienced the rumbling noise the tyres make as they struggle to grip, leading into the squeal as the skid develops. As the car skidded and began to understeer, the diameter of the circle increased, and it was amazing how easing off the accelerator brought the car back to its tighter diameter circle. No steering correction was needed at all.

The third practical exercise was a slalom course, designed to improve our cornering and steering. We were encouraged to take a 9 o clock / 3 o clock hand position, but we didn’t quite see eye to eye regarding steering. The course did advocate a push/pull technique, but with the 9/3 hand position allowing the arms to cross (which I assume is more a racing technique). I quietly forgot about this at the end of the course!

These practicals were alternated with classroom sessions. Here we learned many things that I learned on IAM, including observation, car position, smoothness, adjusting to driving conditions etc, but also a lot of things I didn’t know about the vehicle dynamics and tyre performance. Apparently over 40% of fatal crashes are “single vehicle” collisions, where the driver has over-reacted or over-corrected.

All in all, the day was excellent, and we learned an awful lot. It was not like having weeks of observed driving as we do on an IAM course, but we were able to experience and practice (over and over again) collision avoidance techniques in a controlled and safe environment.

I think the single most useful thing I took away from the course was to look and steer where you want to go. I previously knew all the theory of steering into skids etc., but having had this practise I now know that any such steering corrections only need to be small.If you’re interested in reading more, please see the website:

Driving in Canada Part 1