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Choosing a Driving Instructor
A Warning about Unlicensed Driving Instructors
It is important to check that you are learning with a properly qualified driving instructor.
How to Tell if your Instructor is Properly Qualified
A qualified instructor will display a green or pink badge on the windscreen similar to that shown on the right. On the badge should be the instructor's photograph, the expiry date and a reference number.
Finding The Right Driving Instructor is Important
Taking the driving test is something we all hope to do only once in our lives, but sometimes it takes more than one attempt before we pass.
Driving lessons are expensive - apart from not getting that precious independence and being able to take to the road on our own, failing means more lessons, and additional cost on top to take the test again.
Choosing the right driving instructor can save you time and money. A good instructor will understand your learning style, and whether you are a nervous driver or not. They should support you to learn to drive at your own pace - you should never feel as if you're being pushed to do something you are not ready for - and when introducing a new situation, such as a roundabout for the first time, they should be able to give you the confidence that you are able to take on the challenge.
Driving instructors are just like everyone else, they all have their own characters and ways of doing things, and sometimes that works for some people, and not for others. If you find you do not like your instructorís way of teaching, then change your instructor. Just because you started driving with that particular driving school does not mean you canít change. Itís your money youíre spending after all! You are going to be spending a lot of time with your instructor, so it makes it easier if you get along. As with everything in life, we don't all find the same people friendly and some people definitely rub us up the wrong way!
But what can you do to try and get the best school and instructor from the start? Firstly, look at the pass rates that the school or instructor gains to see if they are getting good results. If they have a high number of passes first time then this probably means the standard of teaching is good. A lower pass rate might mean they encourage you to apply for the test before you are ready - or donít explain well enough that you are not ready to take the test yet. And each time you take the test it is going to cost you. A good driving instructor will tell you plainly if you're not at the standard to take the test, however much you don't want to hear that.
Recommendations from friends is another way to find a school that might suit you - but remember, your friends might have a different learning style to you, so try to ask them about how he or she teaches, and think whether youíd like that.
Any instructor that you learn with should be a fully qualified ADI (Advanced Driving Instructor), and you can tell this as they will display a green badge on their windscreen. If they are displaying a pink badge then they are a trainee instructor. Trainee instructors have to start somewhere, and may be very good, but the green badge proves that they've met a higher standard. No person should take payment for giving driving lessons unless they can show you either their pink or green badge.
There are five different skill levels that your instructor will use to teach you to learn to drive, and a good driving instructor will take you through this for each different driving skill you learn. At the first level the skill is introduced (i.e. talked through), and then the teaching should proceed through talking you through what you are doing (reversing for example), through to observing and prompting you when you go wrong. Once you can complete all the driving skills without prompting you are ready for your test.
The right driving instructor for you will have the patience to proceed at the rate you are learning. If the instructor gets impatient itís time to find a new one. Likewise if you feel youíre not getting enough guidance, or if you find s/heís not letting you try to do it on your own when you think you are ready. Obviously the first thing to do would be to talk to your instructor and tell them how you like to be taught, and only if you cannot agree then you should think about changing.
If you are a nervous person then try to find an instructor who will help you gain confidence in your lessons. Many driving schools advertise that they can help nervous drivers. Donít be afraid of admitting you might need a little more time and support.
Driving lessons are expensive - costs vary from £15 to £25+ an hour, and on average people need 47 hours of professional tuition, and 20 hours of private practice before they are ready to pass their test. Choosing an instructor because they are cheaper is not necessarily the best option, as you may end up having more lessons if the lessons are not up to a good standard.
When choosing an instructor ask if you will have to collect/drop of another learner at the start of end of your lesson. Some driving schools go from one customer to the next, and this can eat into the time that you are paying for. And it is equally as important to make sure that you are getting your full allocated time - a driving instructor who arrives 10 minutes late for a lesson has wasted your money unless the lesson is extended by the same amount of time.
2 hour long lessons are more beneficial than 1 hour lessons, and your instructor should be taking you out in a variety of weather and road types. Your instructor should be willing to take along the person who will be accompanying you on practice driving to show them how you are being taught, and will give them some time at the end of your lesson to explain what you would benefit most from practicing.
You will pass your test quicker if you have a driving instructor who is reliable and punctual, and who you like and get on with - apart from complementing your learning style, a friendly instructor will help you relax. You should also consider whether you would prefer learning with a man or a woman.
Always remember that you are paying, and that you have choice, and if you find you are not getting on with the instructor you have chosen, you can change to another. This is quite normal and you will not cause offence.
Getting in the car with an unlicensed instructor is like getting into an unlicensed mini cab - you would be with a stranger who you don't know.
Every day, on average, the DVLA receives reports of a suspected bogus instructor.
Learning to drive with someone who is not properly qualified is dangerous - firstly your personal safety is at risk, and secondly they may not teach you the best way to drive.