Advanced Motoring Qualifications Are They Worth It?
It’s one of the most common pieces to advice handed out to people who have just passed their driving tests – get a Pass Plus qualification or similar as it will make you a better driver and probably bring down the cost of your insurance too. But is this true?
What is the Course?
The idea behind courses run by the Institute of Advanced Motorists or similar is to greatly improve on the skills needed to pass a driving test. Usually, the course involves around six hours behind the wheel with a skilled instructor. How you do those six hours is up to you to manage with your instructor; some might be able to complete the course in a day, but six separate lessons are perhaps more common. Pass Plus is the opportunity to drive in situations which you might not have experienced during your driving lessons. A pass plus course will give you the chance to drive in a busy city centre, on rural A-roads, motorways and in the dark. As you drive, your instructor will constantly be providing feedback and helping you read the road ahead to predict what driving style you will need to adopt. The course is as much about giving you confidence and exposure to unfamiliar driving situations as it is about teaching you extra techniques.
Cost Against Benefit?
The main problem with taking an advanced driving course in the hope that it will reduce your insurance premiums is that the maths often doesn’t stack up. The cost of doing an advanced motoring course will vary depending on where you are in the country as prices vary, but generally for the 6 hours of lessons you can expect to pay around £150. Not all insurance companies will give a discount to those who have passed an advanced driving course and even if you find one which does, it’s unlikely to give a greater saving than the cost of the course itself. That’s not to say it’s not worth doing the course for a whole lot of other reasons, such as a general improvement in your driving skills or increased confidence. But if the main reason is to save money on your insurance, it might not be worth it.
Other Ways To Brush Up Your Driving
It sounds like a cliché, but it really is true that experience makes all of the difference to your driving skills. Try to get as much experience as you can driving in different weather conditions, or unfamiliar roads, following the instructions of a sat nav, or parking in a tiny space in a multi-story car park. If you’re nervous about driving for the first time in an unfamiliar city, or late at night, take a more experienced driver with you.
If your main focus is keeping the costs of your motoring down, then a “black box” telematics unit might have the same effect. This is a piece of computer software fitted with GPS which can monitor how you are driving, your speed and driving style. Usually, the box links to an app on your smartphone, which you can use to monitor your driving score and try to keep costs down.
Remember to look also at reducing your motoring costs in other ways too. Keep on top of maintenance and servicing to avoid letting small problems develop into big problems. Book the annual MOT check in plenty of time and keep o top of maintenance between services and checks too. Don’t ignore weird noises from under the bonnet; get a mechanic on the case right away.