The time has come for you to learn to drive and you need a driving instructor, but with driving instructors everywhere how do you choose? What qualities should you look for? How do I find them?
The first thing most people do is ask friends and family for any recommendations, it Is always a good start if you know someone that has learnt to drive and they can give you an honest account of the driving instructor that taught them to drive.
If you cannot find a driving instructor that has been recommended to you then where do you turn? google, social media or just spot a driving instructor driving around!
When you do contact a driving school try not to just rely on email, you can get a better feeling from someone when you talk to them, see how fast they return your calls or emails, a prompt response is a sign of an organised driving school that wants your business, check recommendations for the driving school.
Remember when approaching a driving school, you are always approaching a stranger and most of the time when you are learning to drive you are in an unfamiliar situation and it is always helpful to know what you should expect from any driving instructor you are planning on employing to teach you to drive.
I have put together a list of things you should check and what kind of behaviour you should expect and behaviour you should not tolerate.
Before the first lesson
The first thing you need to check is are they qualified driving instructor and are they registered to teach you to drive. They need to be either an,
Which is an approved driving instructor, they would have passed all three of the qualifying exams. Essentially, they are fully qualified to teach people to drive a car in the UK. ADI are required to display a green badge in their windscreen when teaching for reward (being paid!)
The above picture is an ADI Badge.
Which Is a potential driving instructor, while they are allowed to teach you to drive a car in the UK they will still need to fully complete the ADI training program, basically they will still need to pass the last qualifying exam. A PDI will work under the supervision of a qualified ADI. PDI are required to display a pink badge in the front windscreen when teaching for reward (being paid!)
The above picture is a PDI Badge.
Check that they have either a ADI or PDI badge displayed in the front windscreen, if they do not they are not allowed to teach you.
Remember that a driving instructor that has PDI Badge is not fully qualified and that should be considered when choosing an instructor, particularly when thinking about the price of the lessons, do you want to pay the same lesson price for a part qualified driving instructor as you would for a fully qualified driving instructor?
“driving instructor code of practice”.
Ask if the driving instructor has signed the “driving instructor code of practice” with the DVSA the link below will take you to the code. You can contact the DVSA to confirm, you will need the ADI/PDI number.
The DVSA are the government agency that regulates driving instructors in the UK, and signing the code of practice is voluntary, and because it is voluntary you find that if a driving instructor has signed it, they will for the most part take it seriously and are more likely to go the extra mile and remain professional throughout the driving course.
How many people will there be in the car during your lessons?
This may sound like an odd question to ask but there is a practice that is called “piggy backing” where the student from the driving instructors previous lesson will drive to your house and then you drive them home as part of your lesson. While this is not a common practice anymore, it is unacceptable behaviour and you should not tolerate it, if you pay for a driving lesson you should have the complete attention of your driving instructor for the whole driving lesson, do not act as the instructor’s taxi.
After the first lesson and beyond
Now you have chosen your driving instructor and had your first few lessons, some things to keep in mind.
TRUST YOUR GUT! If you feel unsure, uncomfortable or you find it hard to understand the way the driving instructor gives you instructions, then do not be afraid to change your driving instructor. Any professional driving school will understand, not everyone gets on with everyone and it is not wrong or insulting to change if you feel it is necessary, you will be in a car with this person for some time so you must get along.
How punctual are they?
Sometimes people are late, happens to us all, but do not except constant bad time keeping from your driving instructor and never except the lesson being cut short because the driving instructor was late to the lesson, if pay for 1 hour driving lesson you should have a 1 hour driving lesson, not a 45-minute lesson and a “sorry mate” learning to drive is expensive so make sure you get the most for your money!
Your driving instructor should not shout, swear, get impatient and call you stupid because you did not pick it up the first time. Learning to drive is a practical skill and just because you have been told how to do it, does not mean that you can do it! Your driving instructor should always be patient and understanding and professional at all time, and if they are not, change them!
And it helps if they have a sense of humour too!
Always remember that you are the customer and should be treated with the respect that comes with that association.
Keep driving, stay safe and I hope to see you next time.
Graeme HowardFranchise managerUnion school of firstname.lastname@example.org