By: Lisa Harper
Pass Plus is an advanced driving programme which aims to increase knowledge and confidence in a variety of different circumstances, including some you might not have had the chance to cover in your driving lessons. You must have passed your driving test to be able to do your Pass Plus.
The purpose of Pass Plus is to;
- help increase people’s confidence on the road
- solidify driver's knowledge
- give people the opportunity to experience more real-world driving situations with an instructor still on hand for guidance and support.
Many people find that Pass Plus fills the void that many feel after they have passed their test.
Pass Plus is assessment based, so there is no pass or fail test. Instead, you are required to complete a total of at least five and a half hours of practical driving with your instructor and reach a pass standard in each of the six different modules.
Six Pass Plus modules;
- Town and city driving
- All-weather driving
- Rural driving
- Night driving
- Driving on dual carriageways
- Driving on motorways
The Pass Plus aims to cover as many of these modules with you behind the wheel, however, this is not always possible i.e., may be hard to experience night driving in the dark during the height of summer. In this case, you would carry out the module in theory rather than on the road.
Town & city driving
While the majority of your time during your driving lessons will have been spent driving in and around a town, there is always room to improve your observational skills and awareness in this environment. Pass Plus covers urban driving in greater detail, giving you tips and advice on navigating complex junctions, underpasses and tram, cycle and bus lanes.
In the UK there is a good chance you will have experienced some rain during your driving lessons, but you may have escaped more extreme conditions, like heavy rain, snow, ice, fog and blinding sun.
To ensure you get all the information you need, the all-weather section of the Pass Plus teaches you how to prevent and handle skids in wet conditions and why stopping conditions reduce in bad weather.
As most driving test centres are based in a town or city, a large proportion of your driving lessons will have taken place in or around this area. So it is not uncommon to feel a little out of your comfort zone when it comes to driving on rural roads.
Driving on rural roads often requires you to anticipate potential dangers, so having an instructor to guide you can be reassuring.
On your Pass Plus, you will be given tips on how to tackle blind bends and sharp corners, respond to animals in the road and overtake slow-moving traffic like tractors, horse riders and cyclists.
Depending on what time of year you take your driving test, you may or not experience driving in the dark. As there is no requirement to drive in the dark to pass your test, it can be something that passes you by.
The Pass Plus aims to solve this, by giving you the chance to drive in these conditions or giving you the theory you need to deal with night-time driving conditions. Topics include the correct use of headlamps, adjusting to different light levels, dealing with being dazzled and tips on judging speed and distance.
You'll know when you’ve mastered this section, as you’ll be confidently driving and parking regardless of whether you are in an urban or rural environment during the day or at night.
Driving on Dual Carriageways
You will have driven on dual carriageways during your driving lessons, so the Pass Plus simply aims to solidify your knowledge in this enviornment. This involves practising joining and leaving carriageways, overtaking, lane discipline and safe distances.
Driving on motorways
A new law brought into force in 2018 has enabled learner drivers to drive on the motorway with a qualified instructor, so anyone who passed their test after this date may already have some motorway experience. However, the amount of time spent on the motorway is still fairly limited, given everything else you have to cover in your driving lessons.
The Pass Plus system gives you more time driving on a motorway with an instructor there to help. This gives you the opportunity to develop a more thorough understanding of driving at a safe distance at motorway speeds as well as how to deal with motorway fatigue, handle a breakdown, use lanes correctly and follow motorway signs.
Increased confidence – the extra lessons and more comprehensive information covered are sure to make you feel more confident when it comes it going it alone.
Increased experience – more time behind the wheel equals more experience and having an instructor with you will only help to increase what you learn when driving.
No pass or fail – there’s nothing to worry when taking your Pass Plus as it is not a pass or fail course, you can keep having extra tuition until you have the skills and confidence to go-it-alone.
Reduced insurance premiums –some, but not all, insurance companies offer a discount to people who have passed their Pass Plus driving assessment. Although, increasingly insurance companies are only offering discounts to new drivers who have a black box fitted.
The cost of completing your Pass Plus varies depending on where you live, but will typically cost between £150 to £200.
In some areas, councils subsidise the cost of the Pass Plus to encourage people to take up the extra lessons. So if you are interested in carrying out the Pass Plus but are concerned about cost, you should get in touch with your local council to see if they do offer any subsidies.
Ultimately it is down to whether you think it is worth it taking Pass Plus or not. Bear in mind, the Pass Plus can be a great way to increase your confidence and help you feel more comfortable behind the wheel. However, it will no longer necessarily lead to automatic insurance reductions, so you must weigh up the pros and cons of the Pass Plus for yourself.
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