The Pass Plus scheme is an optional government-approved training course that helps drivers improve their skills and drive more safely. It can be taken any time but is best taken within 12 months of passing a driving test and getting your first driving licence.
It can lead to cheaper car insurance.
When you complete the course and can show you have met the required standard, you are awarded a Pass Plus certificate. You will need this certificate to trigger a discount from your car insurer.
Pass Plus teaches drivers skills that can help prevent accidents. Drivers who have passed an advanced driving course like Pass Plus are regarded as safer motorists.
Pass Plus helps drivers deal with difficult or unexpected conditions, for example ice in winter or navigating sharp bends in countryside roads. This is why some car insurers offer those who have a Pass Plus certificate cheaper car insurance.
You can do the Pass Plus course through your driving instructor, as long as they are a Pass Plus registered approved driving instructor (ADI). The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can check if an instructor is registered with Pass Plus. You’ll need their name and ADI number.
Pass Plus course fees cost between £150 and £200 but the exact cost depends where you live, and the cost of the instructor or driving school.
Some local councils offer discounts off Pass Plus training costs, you will need to contact your borough, town, city or county council where you live to see if they can help. You must live in the council’s area to obtain the discount.
Pass Plus is a six-hour course with six modules. The Pass Plus modules are practical sessions, but local driving conditions might mean they end up being theory based. Most people who take the Pass Plus course spend at least 5.5 hours driving.
You are assessed during the course and to get the certificate you’ll have to reach the required standard in all six modules.
The course is an assessment, not a test, so you can’t fail as such, but you do need to reach a required standard in order to apply for the Pass Plus certificate. When you’ve finished the course, your instructor will write up an assessment of your driving.
Each module must be completed to an achieved or exceeded standard:
Achieved: successfully reached the driving standard required
Exceeded: exceeded the driving standard required
The Pass Plus course has six modules that aim to cover most aspects of driving, including:
You’ll learn how to navigate complex junctions, underpasses and tram, bus and cycle lanes.
This Pass Plus module includes learning to cope with heavy rain, snow, ice, fog and dazzling sunshine. This includes preventing and handling skidding, as well as learning about the need for longer stopping distances in bad weather.
Countryside driving has different challenges compared to those in built-up areas. You’ll learn about blind bends, animals in the road and dealing with slow vehicles, using safe passing places and what to do when you encounter sharp corners, horse riders, cyclists, farm vehicles and road debris.
This Pass Plus module aims to boost confidence when taking to the roads after dark and is why the course is ideal for newer drivers.
This module includes the correct use of headlamps, adjusting to different light levels, getting used to being dazzled by oncoming headlights as well as judging speeds and distance.
Although the driving test does cover dual carriageways newer drivers might not feel as though they’ve got to grips with them. This module focuses on how to join and leave the carriageway using slip roads. It also includes, overtaking, lane discipline and safe distances.
Many newer drivers will have had a lesson on the motorway after passing their driving test but as with dual carriageways, probably won’t have spent much time on them. In this module you’ll learn how to drive at a safe speed in different conditions, deal with motorway fatigue, handle a breakdown, use lanes correctly and follow signs.
When you finish your Pass Plus course, you’ll then get a training report form from your instructor showing that you’ve reached the required standard in all modules. You and your instructor must sign the form.
You can then apply for a Pass Plus certificate via the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The British Insurance Broker’s Association (BIBA) says the amount of discount you’ll get for a Pass Plus certificate will depend on the insurance company. Not all insurers offer Pass Plus discounts.
You might be able to put the cheaper insurance on hold for up to two years if you do not have a car. You need to check with your car insurance company first.
BIBA recommends the Pass Plus course is best taken by drivers in their first year of driving, as that’s when drivers are most likely to have an accident and when car insurers are more likely to charge them a higher premium.
According to road safety charity Brake, drivers age 17-24 years old are at a much higher risk of crashing than older drivers.
So while drivers aged 17-19 only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders, they are involved in 9% of fatal and serious crashes where they are the driver, In 2018, 99 drivers aged 17-24 were killed and 1,170 were seriously injured in road crashes
There are other advanced driving courses. The main ones are those offered by IAM Road Smart and ROSPA. These are based on Roadcraft, aa safe driving system endorsed by the police and other emergency services
IAM RoadSmart is an independent road safety charity, formed in 1956. It runs advanced courses for motorists. These can be booked via its website. Courses are provided by volunteers from local groups.
RoSPA, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is a charity set up 100 years ago. It works to prevent accidents at home and in the workplace as well as road safety.
Its advanced driving test is monitored and approved by the DVSA and lasts around 45 to 60 minutes. The test is taken with a RoSPA Examiner, all of whom are serving or retired Police Officers in the UK.
RoSPA has three levels of driver safety: bronze, silver and gold.
The amount of motoring experience you have under your belt will determine how expensive your car insurance is.
There are some things you can do that may reduce the cost of your car insurance:
Having a black box fitted
Lowering your mileage
Parking in a private driveway or garage
Considering a multi-car insurance policy
Choosing a car from a low insurance group
Having a black box fitted means your driver behaviour is monitored. The telematics box reports on how you accelerate, brake and negotiate sharp bends as well as what time your drive and on what sorts of roads.
The data is analysed, and if your scores are positive, your car insurance may be discounted over time.
If you drive fewer miles in a year this could result in a lower car insurance premium.
Parking in a private driveway or garage can also attract a discount. Car insurers may take into account where you park, depending where you live.
If your driveway is cluttered with cars, you may want to consider a multi car insurance policy
The lower the value of the car and the cheaper it is repair, the less car insurance you may have to pay.
If you’re taking an advanced driving course like Pass Plus with the sole intention of getting cheaper car insurance be warned, not all car insurance providers will offer a discount.
Over the long term taking an advanced driving course could help improve your driving; your skills, ability and awareness of the road.
This in turn means you may be more likely to build up a record of no claims resulting in much cheaper premiums over time.