Driving Instructors – The Good and the Bad
There are many driving instructors in the UK some partly trained and many approved and fully qualified.
Each qualified ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) must undergo a process involving 3 tests and even once these are passed, a driving instructor must attend continual check tests to ensure they are teaching learners to a high standard.
Even taking this into account, the standard at which driving instructors teach however, varies considerably. This section looks at how to find the best driving instructors for your needs and also whether simply choosing the cheapest instructor in your area is really worth it.
Find a driving instructor
Learning to drive often takes a minimum of 30 hours and is a relatively expensive process. It is of course in the learner driver’s interest to find the best driving instructor. Before deciding on the type of driving course you wish to undertake (an intensive for example), you will need to find a driving instructor. The best driving instructors are often recommended by previous learners.
If you do not know anyone that can recommend an instructor, simply look online for a local instructor. Online reviews may indicate a good instructor. Look for a driving instructor that best fits your needs and not the cheapest you can find. See cheap driving instructors.
Learner drivers are usually nervous on their first driving lesson. The instructor should make them feel at ease and comfortable. If for whatever reason, the instructor makes you feel uneasy, look for another. If during this assessment lesson you do not understand what the instructor is trying to explain, make it clear that you do not understand. The instructor should in theory use a different technique to explain. If by the end of the lesson you are still no wiser as to what the instructor was teaching, try another instructor. Bearing in mind however, the first driving lesson will be a daunting and nervous experience and may be a little confusing due to this.
At the end of this initial assessment lesson, the instructor will inform you of your progress and provide you with an estimate of how many hours they believe you will need to reach driving test standard. If you were planning on a full intensive course, the instructor will inform you if they think this type of course is suitable for you. Based on this, if you are happy with the instructor, now is an ideal time to discuss a driving course that is suitable to you and to take advantage of and discount the instructor may offer. These can often be block booking discounts, student discounts or NHS discounts.
Finding the Best driving instructors
The best driving instructors are those that are friendly and patient but are also firm at resolving driving related issues. You may feel dejected if your driving instructor seems that they are constantly addressing your failures, but this is a necessary part of the process. The best driving instructors must address each and every issue no matter how many times, but it is also important to balance this with praise on all the learners achievements.
Each and every learner driver is different and although driving instructors have a preferred teaching technique, the occasional learner may find this particular technique difficult to grasp. The best driving instructors are able to alter or on occasions, completely change a teaching technique to accommodate a learners abilities. Good driving instructors are punctual and reliable. Of course there may be an occasion where the instructor did not arrive or was late due to unforeseeable circumstances. This should be rare and the instructor should make every effort to contact you on such an occasion.
Bad driving instructors
We often hear of mean and angry instructors that shout at the slightest mistake made. This type of behaviour is inappropriate and is a sign of a bad driving instructor. Shouting at learners makes them even more tense and stressed and will affect their ability to learn. If your instructor shouts at you, explain to them that it is not professional and that if they do not cease, you will find an alternative instructor.
Another sign of a bad instructor is on that ‘goes for the ride’. A driving instructor should constantly pull you up on any errors that are made. If you notice you are making mistake but the instructor is not addressing them, explain that you have noticed this and expect any issues to be addresses and remedied. Unaddressed and unresolved errors are likely to be highlighted during the driving test and almost certainly result in a failure.
Cheap driving instructors
We all like a bargain, but the saying we get what we pay for is often true. A good driving instructor will have been teaching locally for a substantial time, will have a good pass rate and will have built up a client base based on recommendations. This instructor will have little need for advertising due to the recommendations received, let alone offer cheap prices.
A cheap driving instructor may be new to the area, not necessarily a bad thing, but they may not be too familiar with the driving test routes that are applicable for a particular driving test centre. This can make a significant difference on whether you pass the test as all test routes have areas that fail a large amount of tests.
A driving instructor offering overly cheap lessons may also be struggling for work due to a bad service. This is to an extent generalising, but choosing a cheap driving instructor can often result in costing more than a local, established busy instructor, offering a high quality service at prices that match the local going rate.
Local driving instructors
There’s often a debate of who should be chosen, a local driving instructor or a driving instructor working for a well-known national driving school. Essentially, all instructors need to pass the same tests regardless of who they work for and should both provide an equally excellent service.
Choosing a local driving instructor however, may result in slightly cheaper lessons. A instructor working for a national school has to pay a hefty franchise to the school each week and this money needs to be regained by charging higher lesson process. A local private instructor may have no franchise to pay at all and can offer slightly cheaper prices.
An independent local instructor is likely to have a particular radius on where they are willing to teach, whereas a national instructor may come from much further and have less knowledge of the local test routes. It’s in a local instructors interest to provide an excellent and professional service as without this, they will have no business. A national instructor may simply be provided with another learner if one leaves. This information is based solely on experience from knowing the industry and is not suggesting that a local driving instructor is a better choice than a national school instructor.
Questions to ask driving instructors
- What type of driving courses do you offer? Hourly weekly lessons, semi-intensive or full intensive courses are usually offered.
- How long have you been a driving instructor? If they have been a driving instructors for a good amount of time, they will have experience.
- Are you fully qualified? Fully qualified driving instructors will have a green licence. A trainee instructor is fine, but will not have passed all 3 tests. If a trainee, ask if they can offer further discounts.
- Do you have any other instructors? If for whatever reason you do not get along with your current instructor, you can ask to use a different instructor.
- Are you experienced with the driving examiners driving test routes in this area? A instructor with this knowledge will benefit a learner significantly.
- Do you have good pass rates? This is difficult to establish and can only be established if they receive plenty of recommendations.
- Do you offer any discounts? Instructors usually offer block booking discounts or student discounts.
- Am I going to have the same driving instructor on each lesson? This is important as each instructors teaching techniques are different and will take time to get used to.
- Will I be using the same car for the driving test as I have for driving lessons? Again important as you will be used to driving the same car.
Driving instructor complaints
Driving instructor complaints should first be taken up with the instructor directly, regardless of whether they are working under a driving schools name. The vast majority of driving instructors are self-employed and are to an extent, responsible for their own behaviour and professional conduct. If you are unable to resolve an issue with the driving instructor directly, the next step is to contact the driving school that they work under (if applicable). The school will take a statement from both yourself and the instructor and offer remedial action.
If at this point your complaint has still not been resolved, the final step is to contact the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency). All driving instructors who teach for pay are licensed to teach under the DVSA. The DVSA has the power to remove a driving instructor from the register if it is found necessary. The DVSA can be contacted:
- Address: The Axis Building, 112 Upper Parliament Street, Nottingham NG1 6LP
Phone: 0300 200 1122
Approved driving instructors
Approved driving instructor (ADI) must display a green licence in the front windscreen. Approved driving instructor have taken and passed all 3 tests and are fully qualified. A trainee driving instructor has passed 2 of the 3 tests required to become fully qualified and must display a pink licence in the front windscreen. A trainee instructor will have also received a significant amount of training for the final test before being accepted as a trainee.
Driving instructors ADI number
A driving instructors ADI number is located on the pink or green licence displayed in the front windscreen. If you are unsure your instructor is licensed or unqualified, ask to see their licence and take note of their ADI number. In the event of any complaints against the instructor, their ADI number should be stored for future reference.