Your Guide to the Pass Plus Scheme

Making new drivers safer drivers.

The Pass Plus Scheme is a training scheme for people who want to build their experience so they can drive safely in challenging situations. During the course, a registered driving instructor will take you through some scenarios you might not have experienced during your first set of lessons. It’s generally for newly qualified drivers during the first year after they pass their test, but anyone with a full UK driving license is eligible to do the course. 

The course isn’t compulsory, however. So what does Pass Plus actually teach you? And what sort of time and financial commitment does it involve? We’ll look at this — and more — in your guide to the UK-wide Pass Plus Scheme. 

What is the Pass Plus Scheme? 

The Pass Plus Scheme is an optional, practical driving course. You can take it at any time after you pass your test, but most people take it as newer drivers during their first 12 months on the road. If you finish the course successfully, you’ll receive a Pass Plus completion certificate. 

When you’re a newly qualified driver, you might still find yourself encountering tricky situations — like reversing on narrow roads, driving in snow, or navigating a motorway traffic jam — for the first time. Pass Plus lets you tackle these challenges with a more experienced driver in the passenger seat. This means you can ask questions and get feedback instead of learning by trial and error, and potentially causing an accident. 

Pass Plus is offered by approved instructors (known as ADIs) registered with the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). You might be able to sit Pass Plus with the same instructor who prepared you for your driving test, or you might have to find another ADI or driving school that offers Pass Plus training. 

How long is the Pass Plus course? 

Pass Plus takes about six hours to complete. Of those six hours, you should be driving for at least 5.5 hours. 

Depending on the instructor, you might do the course over a weekend, in three two-hour lessons, or even in a single day. If you’ve only recently passed your test, consider how much experience you have driving for extended periods before you book Pass Plus. Driving for long stretches can be exhausting if you haven’t done it before. 

There are six modules in a Pass Plus course, so you can expect to spend about one hour focussing on each skill. The units cover driving conditions that you might have dealt with during your lessons, but which learner drivers are generally advised to avoid. 

Let’s look into these scenarios in a bit more detail.

What modules does Pass Plus cover? 

The six Pass Plus units are: 

  • Driving in town, where you’ll cover complicated junctions, spatial awareness, bus and cycle lanes, and possibly tram tracks. The unit also focuses on observation skills and understanding the needs of vulnerable road users. 
  • Driving in adverse weather conditions, where you’ll learn more about how your car behaves in conditions like snow, gales, or heavy rain. You’ll learn how the weather affects stopping distances and what to do if you go into a skid. This unit also touches on driving in dazzling sun. 
  • Driving on rural roads, where you’ll do some hazard perception exercises and learn how to overtake tractors, cyclists, horses, and other cars safely on narrow and winding roads. 
  • Driving at night, where you learn about the correct use of headlamps, how to deal with the lights from oncoming traffic, and how to judge speed and distance accurately in the dark. 
  • Driving on dual carriageways, where you’ll get more experience driving on slip roads, changing lanes, and generally dealing with the higher national speed limits on major roads. 
  • Motorway driving, where you’ll cover lane use, following motorway signage, and what to do if you break down on the motorway and have to use the hard shoulder. Since 2018, learner drivers have been allowed to drive on motorways as long as they have an instructor and the car has dual controls, but many newer drivers still find motorways intimidating. 

If it isn’t possible to get practical driving experience for one or more of the six modules on the day you do Pass Plus (because you book your course in July, for example, and you haven’t been able to practise driving in snow or on black ice), your instructor will share the information while the car is parked. You’ll still have the chance to ask any questions you may have. 

Can you fail Pass Plus? 

Pass Plus is not a second practical driving test, but you can get a certificate if you complete it, and it’s still possible to fail one or more of the units. For each category, you can:

  • Meet the required standard
  • Exceed the required standard
  • Fail

If one or more of your six modules is theoretical (for example, you had to discuss what to do if you were dazzled by headlights because it was light until 10pm on the day you sat Pass Plus) you’ll meet the standard for that module, but you won’t be able to exceed it.

It’s important to know that your Pass Plus certificate isn’t issued automatically. If you pass every module, you’ll have to write to the DVSA with the paperwork from your instructor to request a certificate. 

How much does Pass Plus cost? 

There’s no fixed price for the Pass Plus scheme, so it’s best to ask your ADI. Generally, the course costs around £200, but remember that you’ll also be using your instructor’s vehicle for six hours, so they may charge you the equivalent of six regular lessons. 

Depending on where you live, your local authority might cover some of your Pass Plus training scheme costs. All new drivers under 25 in Wales are eligible for funding under the Pass Plus Cymru scheme. For example, you can sign up to sit an online Pass Plus course for only £20. 

Other local authorities in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland also offer funding for newer drivers living locally because they want to improve road safety in their area. 

If you want to find out if you’re eligible for Pass Plus funding, it’s best to ask your instructor or contact your local authority directly.

The advantages of Pass Plus

So, is Pass Plus worth it? 

The main advantage of Pass Plus is that you get to take on some intimidating driving scenarios with someone else in the car to guide you. This is a good way to build your confidence and it can make you a safer driver. 

It can also be a good idea to do Pass Plus if you live somewhere either very rural or very urban and you haven’t encountered some of the conditions covered by the six modules before. 

For example, if you live in Birmingham, you might have a lot of experience navigating complex roundabouts with traffic lights, but your hazard perception skills on country roads might be weaker. Likewise, if you learned to drive in northern Scotland, you might know exactly what to do if a pheasant bursts out of a hedge in front of your vehicle, but you could go months between opportunities to drive on the motorway. Pass Plus can help you to familiarise yourself with these scenarios.

Can you get a discount on your car insurance if you do Pass Plus? 

You might have heard that it’s a good idea to do Pass Plus because it means you get a discount on your car insurance. In some cases, this might be true, but the discount isn’t automatic and it might not be enough to cover the cost of the course. This means it might not be worth sitting Pass Plus if an insurance discount is your only motivation. 

Some car insurance companies do offer a reduced rate to people who complete Pass Plus, so it’s always worth checking. And if completing the course keeps you safe on the roads, you might be able to get your no-claims bonus faster. 

But ultimately, Pass Plus is only an additional six hours of driving, which is still not a lot in the eyes of some insurers, who view younger or more inexperienced drivers as a greater risk

If you want to get your insurance premiums down, it might be more effective to

  • Add a more experienced driver to your insurance 
  • Sign up for black box insurance 
  • Park your car in a garage or secure car park overnight, or fit a car alarm if you park on the street 
  • Choose a less expensive car or a car with a smaller engine

And if there’s only one area of driving that you’re concerned about (for example, driving at night, or motorway driving), you can ask your driving instructor for a few lessons focussing on that skill, instead of booking the whole Pass Plus course. 

Should you do the Pass Plus Scheme? 

You don’t have to do a Pass Plus course, and it’s not a quick fix to get your insurance premiums down, but the modules do cover a lot of common, but challenging, driving scenarios that you will encounter at some point. This means the scheme can be a good way to get tips and build your confidence in tackling the things that you’ve only read about in your theory test. 

If you want to book a course, start by asking your driving instructor, or check with the DVSA to find a Pass Plus-approved instructor in your area. 

And if you’ve got any more insurance questions, we’re always here to help.

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