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How to become an advanced driver

Taking an advanced driving course could make you safer on the road – and possibly reduce your car insurance.

Close up of a man driving a car

Everyone likes to think they’re a good driver. But the best way to know for sure is by taking an advanced driving course.

An expert will give you an honest assessment of your abilities - and you’ll also pick up useful hints to boost your chances of stress-free motoring.

It doesn’t matter whether you passed your driving test last month or you’ve been on the road for more than 40 years. There will always be room for improvement.

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What is an advanced driving course?

This is a practical course that’s designed to hone your driving skills. The aim is to make you a safer, more confident and competent driver.

You will be assessed on your current abilities and be told how to improve in areas such as observation, timing and road positioning.

Any bad habits you may have picked up over the years, such as driving with one hand permanently on the gear stick, will also be identified.

You then get the chance to put your skills to the test!

Who can go on an advanced driving course?

Anyone with a full driving licence. This includes teenagers who have just passed both their theory and practical but would like to enhance what they’ve already learned.

Similarly, mature drivers may have lost their confidence and need a refresher – even if it’s just to reassure them that they’re perfectly safe.

Whatever your age or experience, updating your skills and knowledge could make you less likely to have an accident.

The dangers on the road

Anything that can make you a safer driver has to be worth considering – especially when you consider how many people are hurt or killed on the roads each year.

According to the Department for Transport, there were 153,158 casualties caused by road accidents in Great Britain during 2019.

Of those, 1,752 were killed and 30,144 seriously injured. A further 121,262 were slightly injured.

Car occupants accounted for 42% of road deaths (736) and pedestrians 27% (470). Motorcyclists were next, at 19% (336), followed by cyclists at 6% (100).

Of those killed in cars, 508 were drivers and 228 were passengers.

Who provides advanced driving courses?

IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, has spent more than 60 years helping drivers and riders improve their skills.

It offers a wide variety of courses. Which will suit your needs depends on your personal situation and what you’re trying to achieve.

You can also arrange training via RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) which is also a charity and been running since 1916.

RoSPA’s Advanced Drivers and Riders is a network of groups around the United Kingdom providing free driver and riding training to improve your skills.

These sessions also prepare you to take the paid RoSPA advanced test.

What advanced driving courses are available?

IAM RoadSmart has both advanced driver and advanced rider courses available.

There’s also a 2nd category Advanced Driver for existing motorcycle or commercial vehicle IAM RoadSmart members who wish to gain the similar qualification for cars as well.

You can even give an advanced driver course as a gift!

How much are advanced driving courses?

The IAM RoadSmart Advanced Driving course costs £149, at the time of publication. Visit the IAM RoadSmart website for more information about booking.

Is an advanced driving course worth the money?

You could be picking up lifesaving skills – and that’s invaluable.

The course will see you being taken out by an expert observer between six and eight times so they can get an idea of your capabilities.

You’ll also practise specific skills, including car control and timing, as well as how to deal with unpredictable conditions and road users!

Once you’re ready it will be time to take the advanced driving test.

What happens if I fail the advanced driver test?

You may have put in all the hard work but then something goes wrong on the day and you come up short. These things happen.

Don’t worry – you can buy a retest for less than £40 – and concentrate on the areas your examiner suggests need further attention.

Are advanced driving courses the only ones available?

No, there are a number of options. These include assessment reviews for mature drivers, young drivers, and even non-members. Currently they cost £49 each from IAM RoadSmart.

Young driver assessment: this is a way to boost confidence if you’re under 26-years-old. It’s not a lesson but a relaxed one-hour review.

You go out in your own car so your driving style can be assessed by an expert. They’ll also give you tips on tackling difficult road conditions that you may not yet have experienced.

Mature driver review: this gives you a trusted second opinion on your driving ability. An expert will accompany you in your own car and give you feedback.

It’s something to consider if you want a refresher – and to give your confidence a boost.

Non-members driving assessment: this is a one-hour informal review with a qualified examiner in your own car.

They will watch how you drive and share ideas on how to improve your skills.

Do advanced driving courses lower insurance costs?

Passing an advanced driving test might reduce your car insurance premiums, but it’s not guaranteed.

Car insurers base their decision on a number of factors – and being an advanced driver won’t automatically lower your costs.

However, it could potentially make you a safer driver who is less likely to be involved in an accident.

Fewer accidents mean fewer claims – and that means cheaper premiums in the long run.

Are there other reasons to take an advanced driving course?

Yes, there are a number of additional benefits to the various courses.

For example, the IAM RoadSmart advanced course includes expert tuition in your own car and the possibility to meet fellow drivers in your group.

In addition, you’ll receive full IAM RoadSmart membership, a complimentary quarterly magazine, and regular advice to keep your skills up to date.

And don’t forget bragging rights over friends and family. You can settle any argument over who is best behind the wheel by pointing to your advanced driving qualification.