Advanced driving test

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The advanced driving test is a special exam for motorists who can drive to a skill level substantially above average, and candidates who passed are called advanced drivers. Advanced driving originated with the British police, who use a system (known as "the System") devised by racing driver the Earl of Cottenham to reduce accidents during police pursuits. The System offers a fundamentally different approach to driving and riding, compared to the L-test.[1]

People who have passed their advanced driving test have been found to have a substantially reduced accident rate.[2] In addition, research by Brunel University found that advanced drivers possessed a wide range of increased driving skills, including speed, safe distances, gear changing and cornering.[3] Many people also report that advanced training has enhanced their enjoyment of driving too.[4]

Advanced training is available from several organisations. These include the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, DIAmond Advanced Motorists and the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) Blue Riband. At a higher level, Gatekeepers for the High Performance Club offer post-advanced training.

There is no single "advanced test". However, there is a broad consensus that a 'basic' IAM pass, BMF Blue Riband, RoSPA Silver and DIAmond Advanced all offer a foundation level of advanced driving.[5] Whereas IAM F1RST, RoSPA Gold and DIAmond Special test passes are all at a higher level.[6][7] Beyond that, there exists the IAM Masters programme and ultimately the High Performance Club.[8]

Passing or failing an advanced test does not affect the driver's own licence. The test is mostly (but not exclusively) UK based; and is available for several types of vehicle (including car and motorcycle) depending on the provider.

Most candidates need advanced lessons before the advanced test, which most people find enjoyable and rewarding. Training may be provided by examining body (IAM Skills for Life and RoSPA) or the candidate can pay their own instructor privately (DIAmond, BMF Blue Riband and High Performance Club).

It is based on Roadcraft, the police driving system. It was introduced in 1956 to improve driving standards, following principles set out by the Metropolitan Police and devised by racing driver the Earl of Cottenham. These principles have continued to evolve, tested under pressure by police pursuit drivers and others like motorcycle paramedics. Advanced training generally results in a driving style that is both faster and safer. Advanced drivers often display more variation in speed than others, i.e. slower when there are lots of hazards but faster when there aren't. Advanced training often increases forward observation, with concomitant early and decisive action by the driver, as well as smoothness. Advanced drivers use the width of the road more flexibly and learn new techniques, such as 3-stage overtaking.[9][10]

In its Evaluation of Advanced Motorcycling, the IAM found that:

"The vast majority of people who take [advanced] courses say it makes them feel safer, more confident, more attentive, more observant and more decisive in their riding. By doing so it also adds to their enjoyment on the road. IAM bikers report smoother progress and a much more conscious approach to their on-road behaviour. 61% of those surveyed even said that they had avoided being involved in an accident since they passed the test. Awareness of other road users including pedestrians and cyclists was raised as was knowledge of hazards and difficult conditions. 81% of those who had taken our training passed on what they had learned to friends or family and would recommend [advanced training]."[11]

An advanced test is open to anyone who has passed the standard driving test, but only a small fraction of drivers choose to have advanced driver training or take an advanced test [12]

Examiners all hold a Police Advanced Driving Certificate. The test covers 30 to 40 miles (48 to 64 km) on different types of road, from town to country, city and country. Students will have trained in all areas and have to demonstrate the techniques and methods they’ve learned. Some insurers will offer reduced vehicle insurance premiums to holders of an advanced certificate. Many people find the test the most rewarding part of the process, because of the high quality of feedback from someone with the expertise of a police Class 1 driver.

Advanced driving, as agreed by the Driving Instructors' Association (DIA), Driving Standards Agency, Institute of Advanced Motorists, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is defined as "The ability to control the position and speed of the vehicle safely, systematically and smoothly using road and traffic conditions to make reasonable progress unobtrusively, with skill and responsibility. This requires a positive but courteous attitude and a high standard of driving competence based on concentration, effective all round observation, anticipation and planning co-ordinated with good handling skills. The vehicle should always be at the right place on the road at the right time, travelling at the right speed with the correct gear engaged and can always be stopped safely in the distance that can be seen to be clear."[13]

Advanced training has been known to increase fun.[14][15][16]

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