Choosing a driving instructor is not as easy or straightforward as it first seems and as driving lessons are a significant investment, making the decision of which driving school to train with is not a decision to be rushed. After all, if you were buying an alarm system for your home, for instance, you would not necessarily opt for the cheapest option. You want to make sure that what you learn will keep you and your loved ones safe forever after.
Choosing the right driving instructor to suit your personal needs and priorities means you need to put some thinking time into your decision and it is worth doing some research before booking your first driving lesson. Make a list on a piece of paper of what is important to you prior to telephoning any, so that you can really compare driving schools.
You will be potentially spending a lot of money, so start by seeking some reliable advice on how to choose a good driving instructor. By all means ask friends and relatives for recommendations, but only ask those people whom you would trust as safe drivers. Then it is worth also making a list of what is important to you as a checklist to refer to when shopping around.
For instance, some people would feel more at ease choosing from a local or a woman driving instructor, or you may have an automatic car you want to learn to drive. Another consideration is that not all independent driving instructors offer disabled driving lessons, in spite of the Disability Discrimination Act, in which case you may want to book your driving lesson with an approved driving school.
The cheap driving instructor is not always your best option. If you are looking to save money, then consider block driving lessons, where discounts may be available. Similarly, if you book driving lessons online, or in advance, some driving schools will offer vouchers or discounts. Check out a few different websites, as most good driving schools should be open and up-front about what they offer.
Price is always a primary consideration; this is natural. As a general rule, in the U.K. driving lessons cost anywhere from £19-£25 per lesson. If you book more than an hour, your instructor is saving money, so may offer a discount for your second hour. It is worth adding this to your checklist when you compare driving instructors online or over the phone. Of course, if your concentration is not so good during your first few lessons you may wish to stick to one hour lessons. Paying double for two hours, however, is not good business sense, so if the instructor is not prepared to be flexible, find someone who is.
If you can stretch to two or three hours, however, you will benefit, as part of your lesson time will be spent in getting to a local driving test area and part of your lesson has to be learning new skills. Block bookings will work out cheaper as a rule.
EXPERTISE AND PASS RATES
If they want your business, a reputable driving school will tell you about their pricing structures, their qualifications, or if they are on a register of approved driving instructors with a professional body too. This information will be on their website. If you are looking in the telephone directory, approved driving instructors, will advertise this fact. This is important, because it will give an indication of their competence and professionalism.
When you book your first driving lesson, you should feel confident that you are not wasting your money and you will get the best possible driving tuition available for the price. If you choose a cheap driving instructor, chances are their pass rate is not as good as it could be, which means you risk having to spend more money on lessons elsewhere and pay for further tests. This is a false economy and as a rule ‘you get what you pay for’.
Be aware, however, that even if an instructor claims a 100% pass rate, they may be calculating based on students who have passed, not counting how many times those same students may have previously failed. Ask the driving instructor about their pass rate!
Another indicator of expertise, will be that approved driving instructors in the U.K. will be on the Driving Standards Agency, either as an Approved Driving Instructor, or as a Trainee Instructor (PDI).
Fully qualified instructors have a green badge in the window of their vehicle. This is proof that they can teach reasonably well. Trainee instructors have a pink badge in the window. They may be good, and they can offer a great learning experience, but they have not been assessed on their teaching ability. If they don’t pass their final exam within 6 months of starting to teach on the trainee licence they will have to stop teaching you, which can be disruptive when you are learning to drive.
If you know a trainee instructor and want to learn with them, that can of course mean that you will be comfortable learning with them and possibly get more from your lessons. If you are looking to save money, this is an option for you. Be aware, however, that according to the statistics, trainees have substantially lower pass rates than qualified instructors.
If you are looking for disabled driving lessons, or have other special needs, check with the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Its members will have passed an advanced driving test! There are lots of instructors with alternative qualifications which help them in their area of specialism, you may want to investigate these.
Choosing a driving instructor or driving school that suits your particular needs, as you can see, requires thinking through. Do your research and talk to different driving instructors on the phone when you are looking at booking your first lesson. If it is still difficult to decide having gone through your checklist, it may just be your nerves getting the better of you. If so, call on a friend or someone in the family to help you go through your options until you are ready to book your driving lessons.
passed first time