Advanced driving courses and tests: prices, insurance and safety benefits explained

Getting additional driver training beyond the usual lessons is a great idea for a host of reasons. That’s where advanced driving courses come in.

It’s so easy to disregard the idea of an advanced driving course, especially if you’re pretty confident behind the wheel. But the old maxim still holds true – you might have passed your driving test, but it’s when you get your full licence that you really start learning to drive. In which case, surely it makes sense to learn from the experts.

Advanced driving courses are no longer dull affairs run by men sporting beards and tweed. Instead, they’re good fun, educational and organised by people just like you. There are courses both on the road and the track, to help you improve your observation, positioning and car control, and they’ll definitely make you safer behind the wheel. Some organisations will offer an advanced driving test at the end of the course that will get you a qualification and could help you get cheaper car insurance.

Advanced driving courses and tests: what are the options?

There are quite a few advanced driving courses that you can choose from, depending on what you want to achieve. For example, new drivers can benefit from the Pass Plus scheme.

Statistics show that most accidents tend to occur within the first year of a driver passing their test. Overconfidence and an under-appreciation of risk is a dangerous cocktail, and that’s precisely what the government’s Pass Plus scheme is designed to mitigate. It costs around £200 and offers six hours of extra training with an approved Pass Plus instructor to help new drivers be safer and more efficient. There can be positive implications for insurance costs, too.

If you’re keen to make the next step up, accredited bodies such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) will give you some lessons and then put you through an advanced driving test.

The IAM RoadSmart advanced driving test costs £149 and lasts between three and six months; it is based on the police advanced driving course, which is also known as Roadcraft. Meanwhile the RoSPA set-up offers three grades of driving examination, rated bronze, silver and gold, and its qualification is approved by the DVSA.

Much of the RoSPA training is provided by local motoring groups around the country, and there can be financial benefits to this. After paying a small fee (around £30) to join, you’ll be eligible for free training. A typical advanced driving test will cost between £62 and £67, and if you achieve the gold or silver standard you’ll be eligible for a free retest every three years.

What are the benefits?

Advanced driving courses will help you in every situation on the road. In urban settings you’ll learn how to deal with every type of complex junction and traffic situation. In a countryside setting, you’ll learn how to deal with blind bends and how to ‘read’ the scenery to know which way the road turns up ahead. You’ll also learn how to deal with wild animals, and the use of passing places.

And if the weather is inclement, as it frequently is, you’ll learn how to cope with heavy rain, ice and even being dazzled by the sun.

There are definite benefits to these courses, because not only will you be a safer, smoother and more aware driver but you could also qualify for cheaper insurance. So, it’s worth checking with your insurance provider to see if an advanced driving qualification will earn you a cheaper premium.

Talking of insurance, most courses require you to use your own car, so it’s well worth making sure your insurance policy will cover you during the learning process.

There are other benefits to becoming an advanced driver on top of being safer. One of the big doctrines espoused by advanced driving coaches is to plan as far ahead as you can, and this has a significant benefit for your finances, because if you’re looking ahead as far as you can see, you’ll save money on fuel. That’s because you’ll know to ease off the accelerator sooner when you see a hazard. For example, if you approach a slower vehicle, you have more opportunity to maintain momentum as you pass instead of slowing right down to their speed then putting your foot down to blast past.

Such an approach won’t just save you money in fuel; it will also put less of a strain on your vehicle’s components, such as tyres and brakes, so they won’t suffer so much wear and tear.

However, other courses might not earn you any money off your premium, but they can teach you how your car will behave in an emergency, and how you should react to it. Many of these track-based courses will teach you high-speed control as well as skid control, either on a skid pan or using a car fitted with a skid-inducing framework.

These are typically held at racing circuits and airfields and tend to cost around £100. You can either use the school’s car or your own, but we’d be keen to put the extra wear and tear on someone else’s vehicle.

An advanced driving course represents proper long-term thinking – pay now, save later if you will. They’re not that expensive and they will not only make you a safer, smoother and more considerate driver, they’ll also save you money in the long run because the benefits remain with you throughout your motoring life.

Find out more on driving tests here...

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