Learning to drive is hard, but rewarding. Passing your test can give you a real sense of freedom. However, just because you’ve got your licence, it doesn’t mean you’ll be prepared for every challenge you encounter.
After all, there are certain parts of driving not covered by your instructor – such as motorways. Thankfully though, there are courses that’ll help you improve your driving skills further, and conquer some of the fears you may have.
What is Pass Plus?
Pass Plus is a course which helps to improve your driving ability. It’s available as soon as you pass your practical driving test, and often recommended within the first year of getting your licence.
If you choose to take the course, you’ll need to book an ADI (approved driving instructor). This may be your current instructor if they’re qualified to teach Pass Plus. If you’re unsure whether your current instructor is qualified or not, contact the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) to find out.
Why should I get extra training?
Some people think they’re ready for anything the road has to throw at them. But that’s not always the case. For example, road safety charity Brake’s figures for those aged 17-24 are fairly damning:
- 23% of drivers aged 18-24 crash within two years of passing their driving test
- Road users who are 17-19 make up just 1.5% of drivers, but account for 9% of crashes
- Drivers aged 16-19 are 33% more likely to have a fatal crash than those aged 40-49
However, it’s wrong to assume all new drivers are likely to have a collision on the road. By taking a Pass Plus course you’ll reduce the chances of becoming another statistic in the crash column.
On the flip-side of that coin, you may be a new driver who still doesn’t feel overly confident. It may sound strange, but not everyone feels as though they’re ready to take on the road, even after passing. Pass Plus gives you the additional confidence to know you can tackle any challenge on the road.
What are the different modules involved?
The course is broken up into six different modules, all of which cover various sections of daily driving.
- Town drivingThis is the most basic and common Pass Plus module. That’s because you’ll experience town driving the most. It focuses on increasing your attention levels, making you as skilful as possible.
You’ll learn how to tackle:
- Unusual roundabouts
- Multi-lane junctions
- Trams, buses and cycle lanes
- Under and overpasses
Effectively, this module will teach you how to be as competent as possible on the roads – watching out for any potential hazards when behind the wheel. That could be from the road itself, pedestrians or other drivers.
- All-weather drivingIf you learnt to drive in warmer months, you may need to brush up on how to cope with the more extreme weather conditions. This usually means the likes of rain, sleet, snow, ice and fog – and sometimes even blinding sunlight.
Skidding is also covered under this section and will see you perfecting your understanding of:
- Preventing skids
- Correcting slow-speed skids
- Braking on poor surfaces
- Driving on rural roadsNot every journey you make will be on built-up roads, which receive regular maintenance. Sometimes, driving on rural roads and having to deal with blind corners, potholes and unusual traffic, is also a necessity.
During trips on rural roads you’re likely to tackle:
- Horse riders, pedestrians and cyclists on the side of the road
- Sharp bends
- Farm and building entrances
- More frequent use of the horn
- Safe passing places
- Livestock and wild animals
- Road debris
Ideally, you’ll learn how to use good foresight to predict a potential danger before it happens. On a sharp bend for example, you’ll naturally slow down to anticipate a potential pedestrian or horse rider around the bend.
- Night drivingSome people book night lessons before their practical test, but that’s not the case for everyone. It’s very possible to complete your course without ever having a lesson at night.
As such, this module is again necessary for many.
It helps with:
- Adjusting to the different light levels
- The correct use of different headlights
- Judging speeds and distance
- Driving at dusk and dawn
- Being dazzled
You’ll know you’ve aced this module when you’re confident in safely driving and parking at night, whether it’s on urban or rural roads.
This boost in confidence of driving in the dark is a great help. After all, it’s something you’ll have to get used to if you plan on using your car once the sun has gone down.
- Driving on dual carriagewaysYou should have driven on one at some point in your regular lessons, but did you ever feel like you mastered them?
This module focuses on:
- Making appropriate and effective observations
- Judgement of distances
- Overtaking and lane discipline
- Joining and leaving the carriageway
Dual carriageways are as close to the motorway as it comes for learners. Even as a qualified driver, you’ll need to be able to hone your skills on these roads.
- Driving on motorwaysOf all the Pass Plus modules, this one is the most intimidating. You’d never have driven on the motorway as a learner driver, making this a completely new challenge.
On this module you’ll learn to:
- Set safe speeds in different circumstances
- Deal with motorway fatigue
- Cope with debris and crosswinds
- Follow signs, signals and markings
- Improve how observant and alert you are
There’s certainly nothing to over-concern yourself with when it comes to motorway driving, but there are dangers. Being eased into this high-speed form of driving is wise.
What are the benefits of Pass Plus?
Any course which has been introduced to help you be a better driver has clear benefits, but what are they in this case?
- Boost in confidenceBy taking on new skills and mastering old ones, you’ll find your hazard awareness and general road knowledge will be improved. This will lead to an extra level of confidence for your overall driving ability.
- ExperienceAs a learner, your instructor will focus on helping you pass your test. On the Pass Plus course you’ll jump into the deep end and quickly become used to all sorts of conditions and tests. This experience is invaluable going forwards.
- No pass or failUnlike the practical test, you won’t be assessed. This means you can’t fail the course and won’t have to re-sit it. It’s more an extensive training session to make you a better road user.
Think about this range of benefits when you weigh up whether you want to take a Pass Plus course in the future.
Top tips for taking Pass Plus
While the Pass Plus course isn’t a test you need to pass, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some great advice to help get you through it.
When taking the course, try to keep these tips in mind…
- Get out of the learner mindset: While you would have been a lot more cautious during your driving lessons, treat the Pass Plus with a different attitude. That’s not to say you should let concentration levels dip – you shouldn’t. However, as a newly qualified driver you should be more relaxed. Being relaxed will help you to feel at ease, giving you confidence behind the wheel. This is the perfect time to adopt a new frame of mind.
- Listen: You may have passed, but you don’t have the same experience of driving as your instructor. So pay attention to advice they give, or taking the course is just a waste of your time.
- Push yourself: Learning curves exist for a reason. If there’s something you feel uncomfortable about, tell your instructor beforehand. They’ll want you to tackle this – and that’s a good thing. The point of Pass Plus is to try and improve the skills you already have. Why not deliberately focus on those areas which could do with the most improvement?
- Don’t get complacent: You’re likely to find some of the modules more challenging than others, but don’t get cocky because you think you can already do it. There’s still plenty you need to take in. No one is a master of driving, as hazards are always changing.
- Don’t be nervous: Remember, as we said, this isn’t a test. There’s no need to get nervous about your performance as you’re not being judged. Relax, and use this as a learning tool. That’s all it is, after all.
When you apply to take your Pass Plus, bear these tips in mind. They should help you make the most of the time and money you’re investing in the course.
Where can I take the Pass Plus course?
This depends on your instructor. As with your learner lessons, where you take the course depends on your location.
As for where you drive, you’ll find yourself on a series of different roads and surfaces. Times of day and conditions will vary, depending on the module you’re taking.
When can I take the Pass Plus course?
You can take the Pass Plus course at any time after passing your practical test, but it’s advised within the first year. As most road accidents happen in the first 12 months of someone earning their licence, it would be sensible to take the course as soon as you can. The younger you are, the more this applies to you – especially for those between 17 and 25.
How much does the Pass Plus course cost?
As instructors charge their own fixed rates, the overall cost of Pass Plus will be £180 for 6 hours
Please contact me on 07951 731 313 if you require any assistance on Pass Plus.