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Step back to the 1970s with former Advanced Driving Instructor, Ashley Ponting

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Step back to the 1970s with former Advanced Driving Instructor, Ashley Ponting

Remember the 1970s? Flares, disco, Ford Cortina’s? For former Advanced Driving and Fleet Training Instructor Ashley Ponting, it was the start of a 50-year journey with IAM RoadSmart. Ashley took his Advanced test in an MG Midget (£1,025 on the road) at the County Ground car park in Swindon and, on successfully passing, joined the Bristol IAM RoadSmart Group, eventually becoming Group Secretary.

At that time, the charity’s local driving and riding groups were divided into just three areas spread across the country, and expansion was needed.

Ashley had ideas: “During the late 1970's, the Bristol Group Chair and I felt that as groups were starting to attract more members, it would be better to meet on a more localised basis. I contacted several groups in the west country area, and meetings went ahead with exchanges of ideas and support for smaller groups.”

At the same time, and unbeknownst to Ashley, IAM RoadSmart was having discussions along similar lines, which eventually led to the regional expansion of the UK’s largest road safety charity. Ashley was appointed as the first IAM RoadSmart Regional Organiser for Region 1, the West Country, and South and West Wales, from 1980 to 1999.

“During that period, we increased the number of groups in Region 1 from roughly twelve to around twenty-five and included the newly introduced motorcycle test and later, local motorcycle groups.”

In the decades since Ashley (who is now a driving instructor) first passed his test, much has changed. He cites the volume of traffic as one of the most significant shifts but stresses the importance of IAM RoadSmart’s Advanced Driver and Rider courses. “Advanced courses have been, since those early days, key to helping riders and drivers maintain and improve their skills. I have always tried to encourage my family and friends to take up advanced courses, and many have.”

Ashley says advanced courses are the best way to get enjoyment out of driving or riding, and he has this top tip for those new to the roads: “When in slow or stationary traffic, keep your tyres and the tarmac in view at all times and create safety margins around yourself.”


Why not try our free taster sessions? It is your chance to experience our Advanced Driving and Advanced Riding courses. They are not an independent assessment of your driving or riding, but rather an introduction to the full course, which should help you decide whether it is right for you.

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Nicholas Lyes

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Harriet Hernando

Press contact PR & Press Manager 07711850639

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