After your driving test

Learning to drive doesn’t finish when you’ve passed your L-test. OK, it’s an unforgettable moment when the examiner gives you the good news and you’re free to drive without supervision. But that’s pretty well just the start.

Introduction

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That’s why getting some sort of post-test training, under the expert guidance of a professional instructor, is such a good idea. After all, motorway driving is totally different from the type of driving you will have been used to and your experience of driving at night may well be limited. Therefore, at the very least, try to ensure you budget for a few extra lessons after the test in order to help gain experience in a much wider variety of situations.

The good news is that there are many options open to newly-qualified drivers, and they don’t need to end up costing a lot of money.

So, where do you go and how do you choose the post-test training that’s right for you?

Local Authority Support

Browse the web pages of your local Council. Many have schemes in place for young drivers and some of them are subsidised. For example, in West Sussex (08452 600 650, www.westsussex.gov.uk), there are day courses which include an observed drive with a qualified instructor and a session on the skid pan at the famous Goodwood Motor Circuit. The courses cost £150 and finish with a passenger ride in a Ferrari around the Goodwood track.

Other Local Authorities may offer seminars, practical post-test training and specific multi-agency events in partnership with the Police and Fire & Rescue services.

Many Local Authorities sponsor Pass Plus (see below), meaning you may qualify for a discount on the cost of the Pass Plus scheme. Check www.passplus.org.uk/sponsors to see if your own Local Authority supports the scheme.

Pass Plus

PASS PLUS is a training course specifically aimed at new drivers, designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), with the help of insurers and the driving instruction industry. Pass Plus is designed to build on your existing skills and knowledge and teach you how to anticipate, plan for and deal with all kinds of hazards. The scheme is meant to help you to become more confident on the roads. There are six practical modules involved, including: driving in town; driving in all weathers; driving on rural roads; driving at night; driving on dual carriageways; and driving on motorways.

Anyone who holds a full UK licence is eligible to take part in the scheme. You won’t have to take a test at the end of the course but you will be continually assessed. You must successfully complete all the modules in the course to an ‘achieved’ or ‘exceeded’ standard.

When you successfully complete PASS PLUS, you will usually qualify for a discount on your motor insurance policy. The website contains details of the insurers who support the scheme.

Advanced Driving: Useful Literature

The single most useful reference book for the aspiring advanced driver is ‘Roadcraft’, the UK’s police handbook that outlines their system of car and motorcycle control. In essence, Roadcraft explains the all-important understanding of the need to take and give information, as well as the four key phases which make up vehicle control: position; speed; gear and acceleration.

Roadcraft advocates applying a systematic approach to driving. The key benefit of this is to reduce the simultaneous demands on the vehicle, the driver mentally and the driver physically. The car control system seeks to separate out the phases of a manoeuvre into a logical sequence so that the vehicle and the driver avoid being overwhelmed by having to do too much at the same time.

Advanced driving organisations such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists and RoSPA base their teaching and advanced motoring tests on the principles of Roadcraft.

Advanced Tests

The best-known advanced driving tests are those offered by the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

The Advanced Driving Test lasts for about 90 minutes and will usually cover between 30 and 40 miles along all types of road, town driving, motorways (if available) or dual carriageways, and even country lanes.

Your Examiner will hold a Police Advanced Driving certificate and will have extensive experience from working within sections of the Police Services throughout the UK.
Once you have passed the IAM test, there is no obligation to renew the qualification.

The RoSPA Advanced Test lasts for one and a half hours, and is conducted on all types of roads by Police Class One drivers or riders. Passes are graded Gold, Silver and Bronze and a pass at any level places the successful candidate in the classification of well above average.

Bear in mind that you are required to renew your qualification with a re-test every three years.

If you are aged under 26, there is a discount on the standard test fee. Check the website for current rates.

Recent studies by the Transport Research Laboratory found that those drivers who successfully pass their advanced test are only half as likely to be involved in an accident as the average driver.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a commentary and do I give one on an advanced test?
A commentary is a part of the drive where the test candidate describes what is/is not going on around them in relation to the System of Car Control. A commentary is generally requested, but not compulsory. You will not be downgraded for not giving a commentary. However, by not giving one, you may not be fully demonstrating your observation skills and knowledge of Roadcraft and Hazard Procedure with relation to The System.

When should I not give a commentary?
The only time it’s not recommended to give one, is if your normal drive is effected/deteriorates because of your concentration diverting to the commentary, rather than its assisting with your drive.

I’m interested in training on a Skid Pan. Where can I find information on this?
GEM’s partner, Skidcar UK, offers sessions in a fully equipped cradle car for around £100, depending on the venue. Check out our motor services for more details. Many IAM and RoSPA Groups run skid pan training days. You can also watch a short GEM video which explains the causes of front- and rear-wheel skids.

Is PASS PLUS regarded as an advanced driving qualification?
No. PASS PLUS is not considered an Advanced Driving Course. It’s simply an extension to your L test training to incorporate a few extra hours on the motorway and in other situations, to build up experience and awareness beyond that required for the test.

Should I choose RoSPA or IAM for my advanced training and test?
There are a few points to consider. You will need to train for your test with a local advanced motoring group, so find out which offers you a more convenient location. Also check waiting lists and flexibility of the specially-trained volunteers who work as observers.

About 

GEM Motoring Assist are a breakdown cover company and road safety charity that has been serving motorists for over 80 years.