You may have read in the past week that Nigel Mansell, IAM RoadSmart President and 1992 Formula 1 World Champion, joined us with his IAM RoadSmart hat on to take part in a feature with The Times and The Sun to offer his advice on driving on the roads over the winter months.
This was my third time working with Nigel, a consummate professional if ever there was one. What was different this time was I was tasked with collecting him from Gatwick Airport and driving him through rush hour motorway traffic on the M25 to the Chobham test track, only some 37 miles away.
I was not remotely worried about the feature with The Times and The Sun. I was, however, very worried about my passenger being one of the best regarded British racing drivers of all time!
Would I get hooted at? Cut someone up in my office car with heavy rear blind spots? Or have a crunch – with Mr Mansell sat beside me?
As it turned out, our journey in heavy traffic was as smooth as they went. I referred to the fact he was trusting me to drive him to Chobham, and he said he had every faith in my driving ability. What certainly helped – in my mind as well as his no doubt – was that I passed by advanced driving test earlier this year.
As well him making a few business calls, Nigel and I chatted about a myriad of subjects. And Nigel had no comment about the quality of my driving at all!
So it leads to the question: why was I more worried about having Nigel as my passenger as opposed to someone else? Because of his motorsport credentials of course. But why should I have felt my driving had to be better than usual? Surely every passenger and every journey should demand the same tip-top standards?
Admit it – do you drive differently depending on who your passenger is? If you have children, did you drive differently bringing your newborn home for the first time? Do you drive differently when on a night out with your mates, as opposed to taking your mother shopping?
The point is that everyone you have in your car holds judgement over how you drive. If your best friend feels you are a risky driver, that’s no better or worse than if Nigel Mansell does. Every person in your car has a trust in you, that you will get them from A to B in one piece, and not scared out of their wits end.
This means in your mind, every life in your car is a World Champion. And each of them deserves your very best in driving ability and standards. And in return, they will treat you as a champ when you are a passenger with them.
By Rodney Kumar, IAM RoadSmart senior communications executive