I think learning advanced riding techniques is a good thing but it’s not without some downsides.
I have represented a number of advanced riders over the years and, counter intuitively, in front of a judge it almost seems like a disadvantage. The riders are keen to show their road positioning, forward vision and reactions to an unfolding road scenario. This technical approach is all very laudable but then the witnesses pop out, who say ‘I thought the motorcyclists was drunk, because he was all over the road’, whereas to the advanced rider he is taking the maximum sight line.
The real issue though is the perception of arrogance. One senior barrister who I know, who I count as a friend, and who I have been against a few times at trial has a very effective line of attack on advanced riders and he basically needles them into saying they think they are very able and skilled riders but then hits the rider with; ‘it says here in Roadcraft that anticipation is key and you didn’t anticipate what happened here’. And the advanced rider can find himself caught by a sucker punch.
Without fail advanced riders are attacked for arrogance or believing they are very skilled, and it can be a devastating line of attack. One of the best responses I heard was from a female advanced rider under hard cross examination; much of which turned on her being an IAM observer, who said, ‘I did the IAM because I realised I knew so little. I wanted to learn everything I could to be a better and safer rider. And yes, I do take pride in my riding. I love to ride and I want to get home in one piece. So I made an effort in my own time to become a better rider. I am not brilliant but I am a lot better than when I passed my test.
One nil to a lady biker who went on to win her case at trial. Even the Judge dropped me a note saying what an impressive witness my client was. So by all means, do your IAM. I have ridden to the system for years. Admittedly my interpretation of the system has become more liberal but the system has saved my sorry backside a few times. But don’t unthinkingly ride to the system… one consistent problem I have come across is advanced riders going close to the white line on a left hander and getting clipped by an oncoming car. These cases are horribly difficult. The rider will quite properly say he was there to look round the corner but is stumped by the follow up point which is ‘You look so you can react. You didn’t react’. Do not think that an IAM or RoSPA advanced qualification carries any real weight in a court of law – it doesn’t. But it is still well worth doing to reduce your chances of appearing in a court of law.
Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.