Drive Confident

AA Charity to offer 1,000 more free refresher courses to rusty drivers

The AA Charitable Trust is to offer 1000 more free drive confident courses

15 November 2010

Most nervous or rusty drivers can get themselves back on the road after as little as two hours of refresher training, the AA Charitable Trust's successful Drive Confident scheme has shown.

The AA Charitable Trust is to extend its Drive Confident programme of free refresher courses for lapsed or rusty drivers, after the scheme helped hundreds get back behind the wheel.

It will now provide another 1,000 two-hour courses free of charge, after the first 2,000 free places were snapped up by drivers keen to brush up on their skills.

Benefits are clear

Of respondents to a survey of course participants:

  • 94% say the course has made them a more confident driver
  • 86% say it has made them safer
  • 71% will definitely drive more since doing the course – only 13% say they will not
  • 2% are now driving in situations they previously avoided, including (in order)
    • car parks/parallel parking
    • busy roundabouts
    • urban driving
    • driving alone
    • motorways, and
    • night driving
  • both male and female drivers benefited, spanning all age groups. Interestingly, the biggest group was females aged 31 to 40, followed by those aged 61 to 70.


The charity's director and AA President Edmund King says: "Drive Confident has proved that nervous drivers can confront and beat their fears, making them safer and more confident behind the wheel. Many tell us it has improved their lives more generally – putting them on the road to greater self-confidence, independence and social contact.

"Based on our success in helping 2,000 drivers tackle their fears, we will now open this opportunity to another 1,000 and look forward to working with them as they put themselves back in the driving seat."

Rusty driver fact file

Nearly half (45%) of AA members believe they would benefit from a refresher driving course, according to an AA/Populus survey for the AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment.

Some 5 million Britons, one in every six licence-holders, say they have taken a break from driving long enough to lose skills and confidence.**

16% of motorists say they have stopped driving for three years or longer, including more than 70,000 who have avoided the roads for over 20 years.

More than 600,000 say they have been away from the wheel for so long they are not sure they would remember how to drive.

Asked why they stopped driving, nearly one in five say they no longer enjoy it or are afraid. 16% say they have deferred driving duties to their partner or spouse – rising to a quarter among those who passed their test 36-50 years ago and nearly two-thirds among those who passed at least 50 years ago.

Drive Confident pupil feedback

  • It gave me the confidence to drive again after thirty years of not driving!
  • The independence I have is priceless and my 5 year old thinks it's cool mummy can drive!
  • Exactly what I needed and my instructor was extremely helpful both in giving me confidence and reminding me of driving practices that had got rusty.
  • This is a really great course especially as it is free! Very helpful, and a good way of improving road safety.
  • Instructor Alison made me feel confident from the start and considering I hadn't driven for about thirty years, she was very relaxed.
  • I was very hesitant about phoning about this course, now my husband and I take turns driving, it's given me a real confidence boost. I would recommend this course to anyone.
  • Because road conditions have changed so dramatically in the last 40 years a refresher course for the over-60s should be more widely available, perhaps even compulsory.
  • I found speaking to my instructor by phone before my first lesson very reassuring as I was very nervous and scared.
  • I am very grateful to my instructor as he was very calm, reassured me and gave me very clear guidance. My sincere thanks to the AA Charitable Trust and my instructor!


Sue Cooper, 64, of Southampton

Sue passed her test 30 years ago but has hardly driven over the last two years due to ill health. Her confidence suffered and she developed a particular aversion to roundabouts and merging on to motorways or dual carriageways. "I was scared to death. I would drive five miles to avoid a roundabout," she says.

As a result, Susan, who is disabled, says her quality of life suffered. "It took away something I enjoyed doing; I used to enjoy driving. I found I wouldn't go out on my own any more. I was indoors a lot and felt like I was losing contact with the world."

After doing a specially tailored confidence lesson with an AA Driving School instructor, Susan is now practising the skills she learned and is well on the road to overcoming her fears. "It has lifted me a bit; it feels like an achievement. I'm proud that I've done it. Now I'm not going to let it go, I'm going to make sure I drive two to three times a week.

"I look forward to going out now. I'm more confident and happier, and it's more social – when you can drive you can visit people."

William Frawley, 25, of Basingstoke

William has had his licence for seven years but when he went to university soon after passing his test, living on campus and with no car, he had little chance to practice his skills. He has hardly driven since and felt hesitant about getting back behind the wheel, so he booked a refresher lesson with AA Driving School.

His skills and confidence quickly returned under the expert guidance of his fully-qualified instructor, who helped him improve his anticipation and use of the clutch and brakes. At William's request, the instructor also helped him develop his spatial awareness, parking and skills at roundabouts and junctions.

The Ford Focus used by AA Driving School was another big attraction for William, who plans to buy a Focus of his own. "I took one on a test drive the other day and felt much more confident. I could concentrate on the car rather than being pre-occupied with my driving ability. My new confidence will definitely give me more freedom; I can do things more spur-of-the-moment, without having to think about arranging lifts or buses all the time.

"Drive Confident will be great for university graduates who have had a break from driving, people who have lived on campus or in big cities where they have always used public transport."


Join the discussion in the AA zone


12 November 2010

* AA/Populus panel survey of 12,231 AA members, 7-14 December 2009.

** Research undertaken with 72 Point on 7-8 May 2009. 2,000 respondents were questioned.