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So, you’ve passed your test and have been driving (or riding) for many years – but are you really a competent driver? What do you see when you are out and about in your car – or, more importantly, what do you miss?

When did you last read the Highway Code? What is a Toucan crossing? Is it lawful to pass a pedal cyclist travelling at 15 mph on a road with a solid white line system? Not sure? Then I rest my case.

Statistically speaking, in comparison with people who have received further driver or rider training, those who have only been taught how to pass a driving test will be involved in accidents more frequently than those who have had the extra training.

Many insurance companies recognise the benefits of additional training provided by organisations such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) or RoSPA by offering discounts to those who have passed advanced courses. There are also discounts available to younger drivers who have completed Pass Plus training – a real incentive when premiums can extend well into four figures.

The one consistent factor in the vast majority of accidents that do happen is driver error, so the value of additional training and regular reassessment in terms of road safety, personal safety and financial gains cannot be underestimated and although we can’t all be Police Class 1 drivers, improving your skills through additional training really does pays dividends. Research commissioned by IAM and conducted by Brunel University concluded that 70% of drivers who received advanced training showed significantly safer skills in key areas such as the use of speed, safe distances, cornering, gear changing, seating position and the use of mirrors.

Independent research by Brunel University shows advanced training for ordinary drivers to have reduced the cost of the consequences of traffic collisions by £50 billion between 1990 and 2010. In the same period, 31,000 lives have been saved as a direct result of further training and these improvements have lifted the UK to the number one position in Europe for road safety, with a death rate half that seen in Austria, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.

However, despite these clear improvements, the annual cost to the economy from collisions that cause death and serious injury remains significant, at around £13 billion – about 1% of GDP – with damage-only accidents costing a further £5 billion. It has been estimated by the Department for Transport that, on average, the economic damage caused by each individual fatal collision amounts to about £1.8 million and each serious injury to over £200,000.

Clearly, accidents remain an enormous emotional and financial drain on society; the flow can at least be slowed by the simple step of taking advanced driver training.

More information on advanced driving courses can be found on the websites of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and RoSPA. There is information about the Pass Plus scheme on the Directgov website.

For more information on National Road Safety Week, visit the website. For more information on any of the issues raised in this article or if you believe you have a road accident team, contact our Personal injury and accident claims team or call 0117 904 6000.