How to choose a driving instructor
Learning to drive is a major milestone in anyone’s life. For many people, getting in their car gives them independence, impacts their social life, and can even influence where they live or the jobs they apply for. So how do you choose a driving instructor who will steer you safely through the challenge of passing your driving test?
Who can teach you to drive?
Firstly, it’s useful to know who can and can’t teach you to drive.
Approved Driving Instructors
If you’re paying someone to teach you to drive they must be an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).
The government offers a useful service that allows you to find Approved Driving Instructors near you, based on your post-code. Not all ADI’s are registered on this optional service, though, so if you’re thinking of learning to drive with an instructor who is not on the list, check with the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that they are properly qualified.
Family members or friends
You can also practice driving with supervision from a family member or friend. In reality, this isn’t always a successful combination and may put your relationship as well as your driving skills to the test! However, it can be useful to have an experienced relative or friend in the car with you if you can’t afford extra lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor.
There are some rules. We’ve written an entire guide about supervising learner drivers if you’re not a qualified instructor, but the important rules are:
- must be over 21
- have at least three years’ driving experience
- be qualified to drive the vehicle you’re learning in
- cannot take payment
- be insured to drive your car if a situation arises in which they take over the driving
Choosing a driving instructor
Various factors may influence your search for a good instructor.
Instructors get a lot of work through recommendations. First-hand experience is a powerful influence, so if you know someone who was happy with the driving tuition they received, it’s a good starting point for your search.
All ADIs have met the required minimum standards for teaching others to drive, but some continue their professional development. Instructors who make the effort to improve their skills generally offer a higher level of service to their students.
Quality of tuition
Aside from their professional qualifications, you might find after a couple of lessons that you’re not getting the quality of tuition from your instructor that you expected. Examples might include:
- turning up late or cancelling lessons
- not getting feedback to help you improve
- distracted by their phone during lessons
Don’t feel obliged to stay with an instructor who isn’t providing quality tuition. Look around and try someone new.
Special offers and discounts
It’s tempting to sign up with a driving instructor based on a special offer or discounted lessons. Be a little bit wary – the best instructors aren’t necessarily the cheapest and the old adage, “You get what you pay for”, is often true of learning to drive.
Is your instructor right for you?
You’ll be spending a lot of time with your driving instructor, trusting them to teach you to drive safely and competently. Aside from their experience and qualifications, you’ve really got to feel comfortable being in the car with them and taking their advice.
What questions should you ask a driving instructor?
10 useful questions to put to a potential instructor:
- How long have you been teaching?
- What’s your teaching method?
- What’s your pass rate?
- Why should I choose you over a cheaper driving instructor?
- Can I see some testimonials from previous students?
- Do you have dual car controls?
- Are you CRB checked?
- Do you know the local test centre routes well?
- Will I have the same instructor for each lesson? (For larger driving schools)
- Will I be taking my test in the same car I have for lessons?
Do driving instructors have to have dual controls?
It’s not mandatory, but most instructors use cars fitted with dual controls. If you’re a complete beginner or particularly anxious about taking complete control of the car, choose an instructor whose car gives you that “safety net”.
Don’t forget insurance!
If you’re learning to drive in your own car, or practicing in your own car with a relative or friend in between lessons, you will need to have your own car insurance.
Short-term insurance for learner drivers
We’ve teamed up with Choose Your Insurance to offer affordable short-term car insurance for learner drivers aged 17 to 21 years of age.
- Comprehensive cover for 17 to 21 year-olds
- Short-term cover from 7 days to 6 months
- Covers your own car or a car owned by a parent or friend
- No risk to parent or friend’s no claims bonus
Released On 9th May 2019