When deciding that the time has arrived to obtain a driving licence one of the most important decisions will be – who will teach me? Learning to drive is a rite of passage in life that is much like going to school or choosing a home. The decision will have a lifelong impact on you. Having a driving skill will influence where you can work, the hours that you can work and a reduced dependence on public transport. In fact, it opens opportunities to access jobs that may require a driver’s licence. It will also influence where you can live as once you can drive, you can choose a home in a more remote location.
Location and proximity to your home and proximity to driving test centre
In most cases your driving instructor will drive to you, pick you up for the lesson and drop you off afterwards. Proximity of the instructor to the student will influence the cost of your lessons. Make enquiries about instructors that are local to you. Find out about how close you are to the nearest testing centre. You may want to find an instructor that is located between you and the testing centre. If you live in a rural area this will be particularly important as you pay your instructor for their time.
Is the driving instructor right for you?
First of all, consider your personal needs. Do you have a religious or social reason for an instructor of a particular gender? Since you’re the customer you are well within your right to ask.
There are some instructors that specialise in learner drivers with special needs. If you have a communication disorder or disability, contact your local support organisation. Learner drivers on the autistic spectrum will have needs that are different to the general population. If you are deaf you may want to find an instructor that can sign. Local support groups will know of instructors that will meet their specific needs.
Ask for referrals. We all know someone who drives. Ask around, especially those who have recently passed their test. Word of mouth referrals are the best referrals an instructor can get, but don’t feel shy to ask several people. When you get good feedback about one driver from multiple sources, you’ll have more peace of mind.
Ask the instructor some questions
Ask the instructor some questions to assess whether they are suited to you. Ask about their teaching method. Instructors have different personalities and so their teaching methods will vary. If you have had several referrals to an instructor this should be the question that is either the deal breaker or will clinch the deal. Remember too that the referrers have personalities and learning styles that are different to yours.
The instructors pass rate is important. Remember though that approximately half of all learners only pass first time. Local averages should be reflected in the instructor’s answer. It will also tell you something about their teaching methods.
Ask for evidence of their accreditation. All UK driving instructors must either have an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) or PDI (Prospective Driving Instructor) before they can teach, and this accreditation is issued by the DVSA. A Driving instructor cannot charge for their services without one of these accreditations. It doesn’t hurt to check.
Does the instructor offer any support in relation to theory tests and booking either your theory or practical test online? Good instructors are holistic in their approach and will be able to provide resources that get you through the entire process. In fact, a good instructor will even know about services that help you to access earlier appointments for either your theory or practical test.
The price is right
If the driving instructor has a pricing structure that is way below that of others you have explored, then there must be a reason why. Some instructors could be starting out in a new area, after a home move or change of career. This could also be a red flag. Particularly so if the instructor has been established in your area for a while. Most instructors draw a l lot of their business on goodwill after they have been working in an area for a while. Offering exceptionally low fees by an established driving school could be a sign of financial difficulty of lack of goodwill. If in doubt, ask them directly.
Prices will vary from one driving instructor to the next. This should however fall within a scale. Extremely high or extremely low prices should be a sign to exercise some caution. Some schools offer a package deal. These can be quite good as it guarantees an income for the instructor but also provides a discount for the student. Demand also has in impact on cost. If there are fewer instructors in the area than the demand can provide for then prices will be a little higher than average. Likewise, in areas where demand is low, the prices will be lower.