Some people go on an advanced driving course to improve their skills and confidence behind the wheel, but what exactly does it entail and is it right for you?
What is advanced driving?
Advanced driving includes a range of lessons, courses and qualifications that teach drivers more than the standard driving test covers. Areas of learning can include driving in challenging conditions and advanced hazard perception and can include defensive driving techniques, which is what emergency vehicle drivers learn. Advanced driving courses can also include skills such as better braking and even driving in a more environmentally friendly way.
What courses are available?
There are a range of different courses and course providers out there. Some are short and focused while others take a longer time to complete, cover more areas and can be more challenging.
The Institute for Advanced Motorists or IAM RoadSmart offers a variety of courses from just £49 right up to £399. They work heavily on defensive driving, car control and hazard perception. They recommend drivers have covered at least 10,000 miles before attempting to take a course, so it’s more suited to very experienced drivers looking to gain extra skills and confidence. They even offer a free taster session for people to decide if they want to commit to a full course.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents also runs a course which is a four day long intensive process which leaves drivers ready to take an advanced driving test at the end. There are more than 50 local groups around the UK to provide the theoretical and practical training needed to take the test. The focus is on defensive driving and hazard management and courses are as cheap as £20.
The AA offers a different kind of course where drivers can get focused help in certain specific areas of their driving, rather than a more general advanced driving course. It may be that you find city driving a real challenge or perhaps country roads make you particularly uneasy. Whatever it is, there will be an AA course that will help you gain confidence and improve your driving.
While not involving any kind of test, the Pass Plus course is a useful course to take for new drivers who have passed their driving test in the past 12 months. The course itself takes at least six hours and covers six modules including all-weather driving, city driving, driving at night, rural driving, dual carriageways and motorways.
What do the tests involve?
Although the different tests vary, there are some tasks that come up often. For example, the examiners may ask drivers to recall road signs they have passed some time ago. They may also ask them to identify potential hazards further ahead than the standard test as well as looking carefully at braking, car position and more.
Ultimately, they are looking for drivers to show what they have learned, but it’s important to remember that when it comes to advanced driving, they are looking for more than just box ticking. The examiners will be looking for confidence, control, awareness and skill, as well as excellent observation of other road users, signs – and much more.
Does it affect your driving licence?
An advanced driving qualification will not change or show on your driving licence as it is not run by the DVLA and does not form part of the formal legal driving framework, even though it is formally recognised.