Passing your driving test is a major milestone – it proves to the world that you’re capable of driving securely and safely on public roads in the UK. But any experienced driver will tell you that learning to drive doesn’t stop just because you’ve got your full licence; the best drivers have to constantly evolve, learning new skills and how to deal with challenging situations.
Experience may be the best teacher, but it can take a long time and many hundreds or thousands of miles to gain. That’s why advanced driving courses exist! They aim to give you a feel for driving on roads and in conditions that aren’t covered in the normal driving test; with some even having other benefits from industry-recognised qualifications to even a reduction in the price of your car insurance.
Advanced driving courses fall into two categories. Those designed for new drivers – usually motorists who’ve just passed their test and want a little extra peace of mind before they deal with conditions that aren’t covered in the regular DVLA examination. Then there are those aimed at experienced drivers – courses in precision driving, defensive driving or even track driving. These are often more for fun than any other benefit, but can certainly improve your skills in everyday driving.
The main advanced driving courses available are:
· Pass Plus
Pass Plus is one of the most popular advanced driving courses. It’s aimed at those who’ve just passed their test, and many driving instructors offer it – so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to continue with an instructor you’re comfortable and familiar with.
There’s no official examination for Pass Plus, just a series of 6 ‘subjects’ usually assessed across a couple of sessions. Pass Plus covers driving on motorways and dual carriageways, driving at night and – where possible – driving in adverse weather conditions. Many car insurers offer reductions for new drivers who are Pass Plus qualified.
· IAM Roadsmart
The Institute of Advanced Motorists advanced driver course is more comprehensive than Pass Plus, and aimed at drivers of any age – but often those who’ve been on the roads for a few years opt for the course.
It’s extensive, with training usually taking place over a few months. Candidates are paired with an IAM member, who will assess their skills in a number of areas such as control, observations, positioning and their ability to deal with unexpected situations. IAM certification is then granted after an advanced driving test. It’s widely recognised by insurers and could very easily net you a discount.
It bases itself upon the police handbook, which states: “Advanced driving is the ability to control the position and speed of the vehicle safely, systematically and smoothly, using road and traffic conditions to progress unobtrusively with skill and responsibility.”
With tests administered by serving or retired police officers – all of whom will have undergone extensive advanced training while in the force – RoSPA bills itself as the highest standard of civilian driving available.
· The AA
The AA runs its own driving school for those trying to pass their test for the first time, but those who’ve already passed but are still a little unconfident can opt for one of the firm’s Qualified Driver courses.
They encompass the same sort of areas as Pass Plus – motorway driving, inclement weather and night driving to name a few, but there’s no examination or formal qualification at the end. Courses vary, so it’s best to contact the AA for more details but as a full driving school the AA can also offer Pass Plus certification.
Should you take an advanced driving course? Well it all depends on the individual driver…
If you’re nervous about driving on your own after passing, want to gain more driving skills/experience, want to experience a wider range of driving situations or want to potentially get a discount on your insurance then any of these additional driving courses and qualifications may be for you!
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