Scenic Route: confidence boosting courses for new drivers like Joe Swash

Joe Swash is the first to admit he would benefit from a new driver course. The popular actor and television presenter may have taken the Scenic Route round Scotland but he only passed his driving test in July 2015. And the 34-year old Londoner says he would benefit from further lessons at the wheel.

So for Joe and the thousands of other newly qualified drivers, what courses are available if they want to brush up on their skills at the wheel and clock up more experience under professional guidance?

It’s not just an issue for those drivers who have recently passed their test. Anyone who’s been driving for some time can feel rusty and require a confidence boost in certain situations. If that sounds familiar, the good news is there are all sorts of driving courses across Britain that will put you on the right road. Here are four worth investigating:

Courses for newly qualified drivers: Pass Plus, any driving instructor

You’ve passed your driving test but still quietly admit that roundabouts make your head spin and motorways can feel like a blinding blur. In that case, give serious consideration to the government’s Pass Plus driver training course.

It’s been designed to provide an additional six hours of practical driving experience with an approved driving instructor as your coach. Prices vary depending on the driving school or instructor used, but Red Driving School said it is typically £140.

The Pass Plus course spans six modules, including driving in busy town centres, dealing with all weather conditions, the hidden hazards of rural roads, night-time motoring, and dual carriageways and motorways. There’s no test to take, but to earn the Pass Plus rating there is a minimum standard that needs to be achieved. Once you’ve done it, insurers may offer a discount on your annual premium. Talking of discounts, some councils offer drivers living in their region money off the Pass Plus scheme.

New driver courses

There are plenty of courses to help new drivers like Joe Swash become more confident

New driver courses: Momentum, Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)

Congratulations, the L-plates are long gone and the open road is all yours. But if you’re under 26 and have held your licence for three months, the Institute of Advanced Motorists has a tip. The charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, says it can increase your skills and confidence.

The appeal of the IAM’s Momentum course is easy to see: it’s affordable and convenient. The course consists of an initial online assessment, which builds a picture of a driver’s attitude to risk and their experience on the road to date. There’s then a one-hour session on the road. A qualified IAM assessor offers advice along the way and you end up with a report that’s designed to identify areas for further development.

Refresher courses for experienced drivers: Driving Instructors Association

If you think you’re alone as an experienced driver who’s finding their confidence has taken a knock, think again. All accredited members of the Driving Instructors Association (DIA) offer refresher lessons for drivers who are struggling.

Typically, they will tailor the lesson to the areas a driver finds most difficult. That could be anything from parking in town to venturing out onto motorways. You can book by the hour, and agree a course of lessons after an initial hour’s consultation. Some instructors will even throw in the first hour for free, so you only pay for the second hour. Prices range between £20 and £30 an hour. To find your nearest professional instructor and DIA member, use the handy postcode tool here.

Skid pan and ice simulator courses for all drivers: Driver Skills or Porsche Experience

A skid pan or ice simulator is what you need if an emergency situation, such as aquaplaning or driving onto ice, has ever given you a fright on the road. There are various venues and courses run around the country. But the likes of Driver Skills and the Porsche Experience cater for most needs.

Using slippery surfaces, training vehicles and instructors, they are able to replicate an emergency situation, such as when a car spins as it enters an unexpectedly tight corner, aquaplanes on standing water, or slides on an icy surface.

The courses are as exciting as they are invaluable, and prices range from £120 with Driver Skills to £295 at the Porsche Experience.

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