If you ever end up being given a ride by someone who appears to be practicing Murray Walker impressions by talking about the route, other road users and what manoeuvres they are making, they might actually be preparing for an advanced driving test. Signing up for additional driving instruction not only gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling from knowing you’re a better driver – it can also help bring your insurance premium down. Better skills, anticipation, safety, smoothness and positioning result in more enjoyment behind the wheel. Various organisations offer advanced tuition, so let’s take a look at them.
Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)
Probably the most well-known advanced driving provider, IAM is a charity and offers a range of courses. Skills For Life is an excellent place to start, priced at £149 and based on training given to the police force. Learn at your pace, support given by local volunteers. If you want to take and pass the Advanced Driving Test more quickly, you can pay £399 for their Fast Track Course, done and dusted in two mornings/afternoons.
For young drivers simply looking to sharpen their skills and become safer, better drivers, IAM also offers Driving Assessments. Their Momentum programme provides training online and through a one-hour lesson on the open road, students receiving a certificate at the end. Drive Check is a module aimed at drivers who are bewildered by the sheer number of other cars on the road, or indeed the array of technology fitted to modern cars. IAM also offers Skills Days held at race tracks, priced at £129.
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
Under the RoADAR banner, this organisation also provides advanced driving tuition and assessments based on the police’s Roadcraft manual, helping reduce crashes, improve fuel efficiency, lessen the wear and tear your car will go through and make driving more fun. RoSPA’s advanced driving test is monitored and approved by the Driving Standards Agency, costs £51 for drivers under the age of 21 and takes upto 70 minutes. At the end, you’re awarded bronze, silver or gold, depending on how well you did. RoSPA’s unique selling point is that they retest their members every three years, to keep them tip top. Their instruction and assessment will give a driver more confidence and help them fine tune their skills in steering, clutch control, gears, smooth acceleration and braking, mirrors, positioning, cornering…you name it!
Run by the government’s Driving Standards Agency (DSA), PassPlus is another popular way for drivers young and old to hone their skills. The course comprises six modules spread over six hours, including night driving, motorways, country roads, dual carriageways, town driving and a module in bad weather. At the end of the course, there isn’t a test to take, but it’s no walk in the park and requires commitment to complete the tuition satisfactorily and receive a certificate. PassPlus courses are conducted by qualified local driving instructors or schools and the fees vary, but local councils are sometimes able to provide funding, as it benefits a local area to have safer drivers.
Driving Skills for Life (DSFL)
Launched by Ford a couple of years ago, this excellent scheme is free to take advantage of and is specifically aimed at young drivers aged between 18 and 24, as the first year after passing a test is when a new driver is exposed to higher risks. The AA actually runs DSFL on Ford’s behalf and the scheme has the backing of RoSPA. The course lasts one day and focusses on four key areas – dealing with distractions, managing speed and space, recognising hazards and learning how to better control a car’s handling. The dangers of driving whilst using a mobile phone, which is illegal, are highlighted to students by means of practical examples, and they are also shown how alcohol and drugs affect a driver and ultimately a car. Young drivers who take up a Driving Skills For Life course are taught how to recognise and control skids, react to sudden manoeuvres from other road users and how to safely make an emergency stop.