Pass Plus scheme: pros, cons, cost and insurance discounts
Extra driver training is always welcome, but do insurance discounts make the Pass Plus prices worth paying?
Pass Plus is a Government road safety initiative designed to increase the confidence and safety of newly qualified drivers. Instructors in Pass Plus offer additional training in aspects of driving that haven’t been specifically covered by the standard driving test for example motorway and night time driving.
From June 2018, learner drivers will be allowed to drive on motorways in the UK with an instructor present, but Pass Plus will still aim to improve drivers’ skills after they’ve gained their licence.
To get a Pass Plus certificate, students must complete at least six hours of training with a Pass Plus registered approved driving instructor. The cost is usually less than £200, and some local councils offer a Pass Plus discount. Additionally, some insurance providers offer discounts to those drivers who gain the certificate. A similar scheme, ‘Drive Plus’ is not to be confused with Pass Plus, it is run by a company that issues electronic ‘black box’ tracking devices to young drivers, with the promise of insurance discounts if they drive well.
The Pass Plus test can be taken at any time after passing your driving test, however it is seen to be most useful to those who have recently passed. One big difference between the Pass Plus course and the process of getting your driving licence is that there’s no formal test. Instead, drivers are assessed across each of six individual modules of the course and the instructor has to be confident that pupils reached the grade in all disciplines before a Pass Plus certificate can be issued.
The key benefit to taking a Pass Plus course is the extra experience that another six hours behind the wheel with an instructor will inevitably bring to a novice driver.
Below we've compiled a quick guide to the Pass Plus scheme with everything you need to know before you decide to take the course...
The Pass Plus modules
The six different driving modules covered in the Pass Plus scheme cover the following topics:
1) Town driving
Candidates are taught to more confidently navigate complex junctions, make best use of their observational and awareness skills, and understand the need for space around their car. The needs of vulnerable road users are also highlighted.
2) All-weather driving
This module helps drivers understand how varying weather conditions can affect the way a car behaves. The Pass Plus course covers the reasons why bad weather, resulting in reduced stopping distances and poorer visibility, should prompt you to drive more slowly. It also introduces the concept of skidding and how to avoid it.
3) Rural driving
Driving in the countryside brings the risks of blind bends and brows, more challenging overtaking, and the chance of meeting slow vehicles and animals.
4) Night driving
A module designed to get drivers confident about driving with headlamps, getting used to night-time dazzle and distractions, plus judging distance and manoeuvring in the dark.
You should have driven on dual-carriageways before taking your test, but this module brings more experience and concentrates on judgement and observation, safe distances, lane use and using slip roads.
Motorway driving will still be fairly new if you’ve just passed your test, and as well as getting valuable experience of using the motorway, you’ll also learn about correct lane use and overtaking, what to do if you break down, and focus on the rules around lights.
Pass Plus insurance discounts
While the government's Pass Plus scheme was developed partly in the hope and expectation that insurance companies would fall over themselves to offer discounts to Pass Plus drivers, this hasn’t really been the case. Some insurers have joined, but there’s no real sense of conviction and many insurers don’t offer Pass Plus discounts at all. Those that do offer insurance discounts may still not be able to undercut cheaper rival quotes anyway.
As insurance rates are supposed to be based on accident statistics, this has led some critics to question the value of the scheme. After all, if Pass Plus certified drivers are safer on the road, wouldn’t the insurance discounts be a no-brainer?
The truth is, of course, that nobody knows if an individual Pass Plus driver would be more likely to be involved in an accident if they’d not bothered to invest in the extra qualification. Pass Plus candidates are already predisposed to being somewhat more careful in outlook, you might think, and even that isn’t enough to sway insurance companies who much prefer to reward accident-free driving records than take bets on novice Pass Plus candidates.
So our advice is, don’t take the Pass Plus certificate as a route to an insurance discount, because you may not get one. However, if you are not confident about any of the aspects covered in the course, or can easily spare the £150-£200 cost of six extra lessons, it could make sense.
Alternatively, instead of doing the entire Pass Plus course, you could simply ask your driving instructor to take you for a couple of motorway lessons after you’ve passed your test. Most will be happy to oblige, or indeed to focus lessons on any other areas you’re not confident about. Any good driving instructor will tell you that driving is a continual learning process and the more attention you pay to improving your skills, the better and safer driver you'll become.
Pass Plus Driving Schools
If you do decide to follow the Pass Plus route, there are plenty of Pass Plus driving schools with approved driving instructors (ADIs). Fees are variable, but the course should last a minimum of six hours, with the majority of that time spent behind the wheel.
The Pass Plus Certificate
When you’ve reached the required Pass Plus standard in all modules, your instructor will issue a training report form that you both must sign. Don’t lose it, as you’ve got to send it to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in order for them to issue your Pass Plus certificate. Without the certificate, no insurer will offer a Pass Plus discount.
Have you take a Pass Plus course? Tell us about it in the comments below...
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