Advanced driving courses can make you a better, safer driver, but did you know they can also save you money? Many insurance providers offer discounts on premiums if you have an advanced driving certificates making the outlay of the cost course a good investment. If you’re keen to take your knowledge and confidence on the road up a notch, here’s what you need to know about an advanced driving course – and the options open to you.
What is advanced driving?
Advanced driving courses are designed to help fully qualified drivers improve the skills that make them safer behind the wheel.
They do this by teaching better car control and helping drivers improve skills such as handling and how to position a car on the road. As a result, drivers become more confident, more competent, more observant, more knowledgeable and more considerate of other drivers.
The courses also help drivers become better prepared to cope with more challenging driving conditions, such as snow and ice, driving in the dark and high volumes of traffic. In short, advanced drivers should be able to deal with any kind of driving in any situation.
Some of the more advanced courses – IAM RoadSmart and Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) – teach a system of driving based on the principles of defensive driving, which involves positioning your vehicle correctly on the road, relative to other vehicles, and identifying and negotiating hazards, often before they're even visible. You’ll also learn to read the road further ahead, helping you to avoid potential problems before they happen.
These courses also help you to drive smoother, choosing the right gear for the right situation, which will improve fuel economy and reduce wear and tear on the vehicle.
But quite apart from developing compete confidence in the car, advanced drivers are also seen as safer drivers by insurance companies. This means that completing an advanced driving course is often a way of helping to reduce insurance premiums.
Unlike the one approved method of passing your driving test, there are a number of different advanced driving courses.
Pass Plus is an advanced course that was designed for new drivers who have just passed their driving test as a way of helping them to develop their skills.
The course is run by approved driving instructors (ADIs), who are the same people who help learner drivers pass their test. The course takes about six hours to complete and covers motorway driving, all-weather driving, driving at night and driving in rush hour.
Many insurers offer discounts for holding the qualification, which is very useful when you consider the high cost of premiums for young drivers.
The cost will vary, depending on what the instructors charge for their time, but it should be somewhere in the region of £180*.
The best-known advanced driving qualification. The course, from the organisation that was previously known as the Institute of Advanced Motorists, has the advantage of being easy to access through local groups up and down the country.
During the three to six month course, drivers learn skills such as control, observation, timing, positioning and the ability to deal with unpredictable situations when driving on the road. It's perhaps worth noting that teachers are not professional driving instructors, but experienced advanced drivers. On passing the course, drivers become an IAM member themselves. Membership is recognised by insurance companies who offer discounted premiums in many cases.
IAM RoadSmart charges from £149* for an advanced driving course.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) course is very similar to the IAM’s and is based on the same principles of roadcraft used by police drivers.
Training can be conducted at a mutually convenient location with instructors typically serving or retired police officers. It's a cheaper course than the IAM’s, but it isn't generally recognised by insurers. You also have to requalify every three years.
Prices for the RoSPA course vary, but they start from £20*.
The Diamond course is the least well-known of all the advanced driving courses, but it’s widely seen as the most challenging. It’s the UK’s only government-accredited advanced driver development programme taught by professional trainers and examiners.
It’s run by the Driving Instructors Association (DIA, hence DIAmond), which is the UK’s largest trade body for ADIs. That means all the instructors are professional driver trainers. The course, like the other advanced courses, focuses on improving the driver’s on-road skills and knowledge, and their safety and competency on the road, but it also encourages motorists to develop their eco-efficiency.
The Diamond test costs £85*, but you’ll need lessons with a qualified instructor before taking a test, which will probably cost a few hundred pounds. This makes it the most expensive of the advanced driving courses, but it is recognised by a number of insurance companies. You can also take confidence in knowing that you’ve reached the same standard as many of the country’s driving instructors.
*All prices are correct at the time of writing but please check current prices with the relevant supplier.
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