Even after you've passed your practical and theory tests, it's a little peculiar that none of us are required to retrain or learn new driving skills. And since driving has morphed and evolved so much over the decades, that might mean that certain motorists have racked up more than 50 years on the road without ever once fine-tuning their skills behind the wheel.
As traffic, new motoring legislation and bad habits increase, staying aware of driving's ever-changing developments is essential. That's where advanced driving courses come in.
By aiming to make you a safer, more confident driver, advanced driving courses can improve your existing skills, help you avoid accidents and even help lower your car insurance costs.
In this guide, we'll explain what advanced driving courses are, the types available, why you might want to take a course and how they can benefit you in the long term.
Designed to hone your driving skills and awareness, advanced driving courses can be a real confidence boost as a motorist – providing feedback and guidance on your driving habits that you may not have received previously.
The lessons give the driver the opportunity to learn additional skills that help them to anticipate dangers on the road, becoming a more disciplined driver in the process. They can even help reduce your fuel consumption and keep your car in better shape for longer in some cases.
Each advanced course will differ depending on the company you opt for, but they all strive to produce the same end result. They're available to anyone with a full licence, so young drivers to over 70s looking for a refresher can benefit from them.
If you lack confidence in a particular area, just need to brush up on a few things, or you feel like you should get up to speed with recent driving developments, then advanced driving courses can certainly help you out.
From driving in bad weather to taking on motorways, these courses can help tackle pain points and anxieties, allowing you to better cope with the challenges of driving on modern roads.
No, opting to take an advanced driving course does not affect your licence. You can only complete additional courses once you’ve passed both elements of your standard driving test.
A registered charity dedicated to improving road safety for both drivers and motorbike riders, IAM RoadSmart offers a range of Drive and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Quality Assured advanced driving courses including
Advanced Driver Course: Comprehensive and highly specific, this course is conducted by qualified experts and divided into two-hour sessions. Taking anywhere from three to six months to complete, participants will focus on skills such as control, observation, timing and mastering unpredictable road situations.
Upon completing the course, participants will be offered a full IAM membership, which could help to reduce your car insurance premium.
Younger Driver Assessment: Tailored to drivers under 26, this course is perfect for younger drivers who want to gain confidence at the wheel. Designed to boost skills and assurance, it includes an on-road assessment in your car, along with one-to-one advice designed to improve your performance.
Mature Driver Review: Great for older drivers who may be a little rusty, this helpful course is a handy refresher whatever you're looking for. There's even an informal review that takes place in your own car, conducted by a qualified expert.
IAM RoadSmart courses range from £49 up to £399.
Well-suited to novice drivers who've recently passed their drive test, Pass Plus is the most well-known advanced driving course in the UK.
Run throughout the country by approved driving instructors (ADIs), the DVSA-recognised course takes about six hours, and covers a wide range of driving conditions and environments.
While there's no test, your instructor will assess your performance as you drive. Upon reaching the required standard in all modules to complete the course, you can then apply for a Pass Plus certificate from the DVSA.
The cost of taking Pass Plus does vary depending on the instructor, but it's usually no more than £200. Some local councils even offer a Pass Plus discount, so it's definitely worth investigating.
You might even able to claim back the cost of the course by claiming a discount on your car insurance – especially as a younger driver with little experience on the road.
RoSPA Advanced Driving Course
A four-day course based on the Police Driver Handbook, the RoSPA Advanced Driving Course focuses on road safety and improving driving standards, based on the same roadcraft principles as the IAM course.
Typically conducted by serving or retired police offers, it's an ideal course for company car, commercial van and immediate response drivers thanks to its focus on enhancing handling skills, anticipating changes and improving observance behind the wheel. It also prepares drivers for the Advanced Driving Test, which has to be re-taken every three years to ensure your driving skills stay sharp.
It's certainly one of the cheapest options, with training starting at £20. But RoSPA is not widely recognised by car insurance providers, so it won't be much help in reducing car insurance costs.
AA Advanced Driving Courses
The AA offers a range of driver safety courses with specialist training conducted by AA-qualified instructors, including:
Refresher driving lessons – perfect for drivers who've lost their confidence following an accident or because they haven't driven for a long time
Motorway driving lessons – for the uninitiated, driving on motorways can be nerve-wracking; this course aims to make multi-lane journeys a little easier
You have to book a minimum of two hours and prices start from £25 an hour when you book online.
Although increased safety and driving ability make advanced driving courses a worthy undertaking, signing up for such courses might also save money on your car insurance.
That said, not all insurers take advanced driving courses into account when calculating their premiums.
Some insurers take the view that there isn't enough evidence that advanced driving courses improve driver safety. And even if they do take courses into account, they don't play as large a role as things such as where you live, where your car is parked overnight and your profession.
Additionally, the cost of a course could easily be more than any immediate insurance savings. Over time, however, the cost of the course may be covered by premium savings.
If your insurer does take advanced training into account, you’ll need to provide evidence, adding to the time and trouble that it takes to get insured. If making potential savings on your insurance is the main reason for taking an advanced course, then be sure to ask your insurer if they take such courses into account before you sign up for one.
Don't forget, you can also save on your car insurance by shopping around and comparing quotes.
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