Whether you enjoy driving and want to improve your skill behind the wheel further still, or are a novice or nervous driver who would like a confidence boost, there are plenty of courses designed to help.
And in the age of austerity and environmental awareness, both private individuals and those who drive for work are eager to learn how to be more economical behind the wheel. The good news is there’s a course for that, too.
A wide range of professionally accredited centres or individuals will be able to teach you how to be a better, safer driver.
Here are the different courses on offer and tips on how to find the best for your money.
Advanced driving courses
The more experience and training you have as a driver, the less likely you are to claim on your car insurance. Little wonder then that some insurers offer lower premiums for proven advanced drivers; their data tells them they pose less of a risk on the road.
Courses teach how to drive and reduce the chances of being involved in a crash by continually assessing everything that’s happening around you. This leads to a style of driving that can identify and predict potential problems and avoid dangers and accidents. It sounds like common sense but few of us realise how much there is to it until we’ve experienced an expert sitting alongside us, demonstrating how to be more observant and safer.
Top tip: Of the many courses out there, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (www.iam.org.uk) charity offers the highest accredited civilian standard for driving.
This is an extension of advanced driving. Like that, it teaches drivers to be more aware of their surroundings and to anticipate and better manage potential hazards, but the principal benefit this time is reducing fuel consumption and saving money. You’ll be taught how to use less fuel and cause less wear and tear to your vehicle thanks to the tips and tricks learnt on the courses. Many eco-driving courses claim they can cut drivers’ fuel consumption by around 10 per cent.
Some of these courses are classroom-based and focus on theory. Others are purely practical, conducted by an expert at the wheel. We’d choose one that combines both so you learn the theory in an unpressured environment then put it into practice on the road.
Top tip: There’s a lot of choice so the more knowledge you have to start with, the greater the chance of finding a good course and getting the most out of it.
When someone buys a new high performance car such as a Porsche or a BMW M model, they’ll be offered complimentary training to ensure they can use the car’s performance safely. The good news is, you don’t need to buy an expensive car to experience such training; similar courses are widely available which will help you coax the performance out of your car in a smooth and entirely safe manner.
Use an established performance driving school; ignore any that doesn’t have details on why the instructor is qualified for the job
Some will be based on a private track, where the extreme abilities of a car and driver can be safely explored, others may well mix both track and public road routes.
Top tip: Any racing driver who’s hit hard times can set up as a performance driving instructor. But beware - use an established performance driving school; ignore any that doesn’t have details on why the instructor is qualified for the job.
There’s a lot more to being a racing driver than simply going quickly. And if you think you’re a tasty driver on the road, you need only go to a private track day at a race circuit to discover other people who are faster.
Track driving instructors will teach all the techniques for going quickly, such as finding the apex to corners and steering smoothly, as well as helping you find and reach the limit of a car in the controlled environment of a race track.
Top tip: When you book training make sure you know what your money gets. Some offer just the instructor; some instructor plus car; some both of those plus track time. To find a properly qualified and accredited instructor go to the Association of Racing Drivers Schools.