The Pros And Cons of Taking a Driving School Crash Course

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OK, so you've been successful in getting your provisional driving license from the DVLA and you're ready to find a driving school and get motoring. What next? Do you take regular lessons with a successful driving school or do you go for an intensive driving course provided by a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). Before we start can I just say that as an ADI I'm not too keen on the term "driving crash course" I much prefer the term "intensive driving course". If someone says "crash course" to me I have visions of them wanting to drive my car around Northwich on 2 wheels at breakneck speeds! Not the measure of a successful driving school at all!

In this article we're going to deal with intensive driver training in its various guises. If you put a successful search into Google for "driving school crash courses", "fast pass driving courses" or "intensive driving lessons" you will be presented with a plethora of choices these range from intensive courses in your local area to residential courses, from courses where you can go from no experience to a test pass, or having had plenty of previous experience.

First of all let's break it down into residential and non-residential intensive driving courses.

Residential fast pass courses are provided by driving schools usually in an area with plenty of hotels, a good example of this is Blackpool. Blackpool has turned into a bit of a Mecca for intensive driving courses and has several schools offering driving lessons and accommodation at very reasonable rates. A lot of people from London and the South East take this option as it's a very cost effective way of gaining a driving license (driving lessons in London are far more expensive than those further north). Another advantage is that the traffic volumes, particularly in the off season, are significantly lower in the north west.

You do not need to have had any previous driver training to take an intensive driving crash course, in fact you do not need to have passed your theory test to pause learning to drive, though a little experience and knowledge goes a long way. It really is a big ask to come from having no experience of driving to pass your driving test in a 5 day intensive driving course.

The courses can operate in different ways but usually the first day of a week's intensive driving course is spent studying the theory and the second day of the course is taking the theory test, if successful the driving school can then book a practical driving test with the DSA .

This is sometimes an issue with this type of driving course, the driving test is booked where there is a driving test available. This means that, although you will be taking your driving lessons in one area – eg Blackpool, you may be taking your test in a completely different area – eg Northwich. The disadvantage here is that you will not be able to gain any local knowledge of an area and identify 'hot-spots' where it is easy to be caught out on the driving test.

The next option is to go for a local successful driving school and have the intensive driving lessons and test in your own area (providing the DSA not shut down your driving test center yet!). The way I conduct intensive courses (and I have had many successes this way) is to meet the learner driver after they have passed their driving theory test, we then go online to the Driving Standards Agency website and book a driving test for the near future . The intensive driving course is booked back from the date of the test, so for example:

1. The driving test is booked for Friday 13th March at 14.30h
2. The last driving lesson is booked to start on the morning of Fri 13th and finish with the test
3. Day four of the intensive driving lesson is booked for Thurs 12th
4. Day three of the intensive driving lesson is booked for Weds 11th
5. etc, etc

I encourage the student to get as much practice as possible in until the start of the first driving lesson, this practice may only comprise of driving round a car park or a small area of ​​private land. This is to try to develop the control skills as much as possible before the first driving lesson, it's easy to teach someone with control skills but little road control how can be a major stumbling block and hold back the whole learning to drive process.

The correct intensive driving course for the right person can produce excellent driving test success, I have had results of over 90% of intensive driving courses pass within their first two driving tests and over 70% passing first time, this far exceeded the national average.

As with all intensive driving courses there can be no guarantee that you will pass and the intensive nature of crash driving courses that they are not for everyone, remember that you are training your mind and body when driving, combining many skills into one and for some people this can take longer than others. If you lack co-ordination or find it difficult to assess hazards or speed and distance then it may be better for you to take regular lessons and accept that it may take longer to be successful at your driving test. For most however to be successful at your driving test can be helped by picking a good driving school. In my experience I have found that the right candidate with a little previous training can definitely get up to driving test standard and be successful in their driving test with a week long intensive driving course.

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(c) Andrew Davies 2010

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