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What is Pass Plus?
Pass Plus is an additional qualification that you can gain after you have passed your driving test. You'll be pleased to know that it doesn't involve another test!
Your instructor will drive with you on a variety of road types and in various conditions, and if he thinks you are driving to the correct standard will complete a form to certify this. You'll then be sent a Pass Plus Certificate through the post.
Is Pass Plus worth taking?
Passing the driving test is only the first stage in your driving career. It doesn't mean that you are a fully competent driver, just that you have reached the standard when it's safe for you to drive on your own. It is an unfortunate fact that the age group that has the most accidents is 17 to 24 year olds, and particularly during the first two years after passing the driving test..
Whatever can be done to reduce young people being killed or seriously injured on our roads has to be a good thing. Pass Plus gives young drivers more experience of driving on the public roads, and is such a benefit that insurers recognise that people with a Pass Plus certificate are statistically safer drivers.
As such many insurers offer a substantial discount to drivers with a Pass Plus certificate - this can equal a whole year's worth of no claims discount. What's more, you will be able to get a reduction on your insurance (with insurers who offer it) year after year, and not just once. So you will find the cost of the course will be paid for over and over again.
Some insurance companies will give you a lower premium if you pass the Pass Plus within a certain amount of time after your insurance policy starts - often 30 days. Check before you take out insurance.
What does it cost to take Pass Plus?
Pass Plus is normally a six hour course, so you should therefore budget for six extra driving lessons (although not necessarily six separate one hour driving sessions). You may find you need less time, or more if you need more confidence.
If you're in Wales your local authority will help you with the cost of taking Pass Plus. In England some local authorities will help. It is useful to get in contact with the Road Safety department of your local council - or to ask your driving instructor.
Who can teach Pass Plus?
You would normally take your Pass Plus with the driving instructor who taught you to drive but you need to check that they are registered with the Driving Standard Agency (DSA) as a Pass Plus Instructor, and s/he has to have a green ADI badge. If you are getting assistance from your local council they may have a list of approved instructors which you will need to choose from.
You can either use a driving school car, or your own car if you have one. You can take your Pass Plus soon after you pass your driving test. You can take the Pass Plus at any time, but it is aimed mainly at new drivers in the first year after getting their full driving licence.
What does Pass Plus involve?
Pass Plus involves driving on different types of roads, and in different weather conditions. As it's not possible to predict if it will rain or snow during your course, or if you don't live near a motorway your instructor will talk you through what you would need to do.
You will be given a copy of the Pass Plus Pupil's Guide at the beginning of your course which will contain all the information you need. Your instructor will continually assess your progress and will complete a training report form - when you have reached the required standard in each module you will sign and date this. You do not have to take six separate lessons to complete the course - you can even do it all in one day (although that's a lot of time driving!)
Below is a list of the modules - this is not an exhaustive list of what will be covered, but should be enough to give you a good idea of what to expect.
1. Driving around a Town
This will include an introduction to the course, and then will cover the different features of town driving.
2. All Weather Driving.
This will concentrate on speed, safe stopping distances, when you would use lights etc. Obviously you'd be unlikely to experience rain, fog, sleet and snow all on your course, but your instructor will make sure you understand what you should do in various weather conditions.
3. Driving in the Countryside.
Driving in the Countryside. Driving in towns and on rural roads can be very different. Coping with bends, hills, overtaking will be covered, as will how to drive considerately around other road users, for example, horse riders and animals in the road. The correct use of the horn and passing places will also be included.
4. Driving at Night
This module includes the correct use of lights, judging speed and distance and the differences that driving in the dark brings.
5. Driving on Dual Carrigeways
These are high speed roads which require you to use your mirrors and check blnd spots constantly. The correct distances between you and the vehicle ahead will be covered, as well as using slip roads correctly, and overtaking and lane discipline.
6. Driving on Motorways.
Similar to driving on dual carriageways, but the speed will be faster, and will include issues such as motorway fatigue, breakdown procedures and cross winds.
Some of these road types or conditions you may have come across when learning to drive, but before you have passed your test may not have taken all the information in. This is a good way to prepare yourself for tackling any of these when you are driving solo, with no one beside you to give advice. In particular it is useful to have the assurance from a qualified driving instructor the first time you drive on a motorway.
Drivers never stop learning to drive - you'll continually come across new experiences which you will need to deal with. To improve your driving further you can consider taking an Advanced Driving course. This will probably help get that high insurance premuim down even further!