Over the past decade or so, advanced driving courses have become increasingly popular throughout the United Kingdom. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just passed your test or have been driving for years, all of us could easily see some form of benefit from an advanced course.
At the end of the day, the standard UK Driving Test is the only practical exam you legally must take, but most drivers are still on British roads well into their seventies. So, in theory their standard of driving could be 60 years out of date. Just like a teacher may have to re-train several times during their career, British drivers could potentially drive for 60 years without ever re-training at all.
Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, there’s been somewhat of a ‘myth’ surrounding Advanced UK Driving Courses and how they relate to insurance premiums. This is because ‘new’ drivers (who have passed in the last 12 months) will most likely be asked if they have completed the ‘Pass Plus’ driving course. The reason why insurers ask this question is because premiums for younger drivers are high, when compared to the national average. By highlighting advance driving skills, young driver premiums may be reduced.
For the rest of the population, there’s generally no premium discounts for an advanced driving certificate. This does however vary wildly from each individual insurer. Some will offer a discount, while others won’t. Each insurance company underwrites policies differently, each using their own statistics. Your premium is calculated using a complex formula that includes information such as the type of vehicle, your age, claim history, home location and so on.
Equally, the initial costs of the courses may not ‘outweigh’ the potential insurance discounts a driver may receive. You should never commit to an advanced driving course to gain car insurance reductions; the biggest benefit of these courses is to simply expand your road knowledge and driving skills.
Some of these skills can include:
• Guide to good driving
• Speed awareness courses
• Maintaining your no-claims discount
• Fuel economy (and less carbon emissions)
• Smoother braking
• Longer tyre life
• Less stress in challenging driving conditions
Pass Plus Driving Course – Explained
The Pass Plus driving course is a practical, hands on training exercise that takes at least 6 hours and is for drivers to improve their skills and drive more safely.
It can be taken at any time although it should be most useful to new drivers in the year after passing their test. You’ll need a Pass Plus registered approved driving instructor (ADI) to teach you.
Pass Plus has 6 modules, covering driving:
• in town
• in all weathers
• on rural roads
• at night
• on dual carriageways
• on motorways
These modules will be practical sessions, although local conditions may mean some are theory based. You won’t generally take a ‘test’ but you’ll be evaluated throughout the course. To pass you’ll have to reach the required standard in all modules.
Interestingly, some local councils can offer discounts off the full Pass Plus training costs. It’s defiantly a good idea to contact your council to see if they can help you with the cost of your training. After you’ve completed the course, you must apply for your own Pass Plus certificate if you want one. If you’re a new driver, you’ll need the certificate if you’re attempting to get discount on your car insurance.
Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) – Advanced Motoring Lesson
The IAM advanced motoring course is typically regarded as one of the most respected and recognise. IAM’s Advanced Driver test has existed in various shapes and forms since 1956.
The programme includes a year’s membership of the IAM, all instructional material, observed drives and, eventually, your 90-minute test. The course costs around £149 (correct at the time of publication). Each session with your ‘expert’ lasts a couple of hours and you’ll focus on specific skills to develop across a wide range of competencies.
This can include a wide range of different driving disciplines, which can include control, observation, timing, optimum road positioning, ability to deal with unpredictable roads and other road users’ behaviour.
The aim of the course is to provide the user with the following attributes:
• Improved skills and knowledge
• DVSA accredited
• Possible cheaper insurance
• Boost your confidence
• Enhanced job opportunities
• Greater awareness of other road users
• Increased anticipation of hazards
• Opportunities to make better progress in your journey
RoSPA Advanced Driving
RoSPA offer an advanced driver test that’s based on similar principles as the IAM’s course. The tests are held by serving or retired police officers and RoSPA are the only tests that require a three-yearly ‘re-test’ to ensure you still have the skills.
The general benefits include:
• Reduce the risk of having a crash
• Improved Fuel Consumption
• Less wear and tear to your vehicle
• Access to exclusive RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders benefits