Picking the right driving instructor can make the difference between passing your test first time and spending a fortune retaking it over and over again. That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to help you to make the right choice and take your first steps towards throwing away those L-plates.
1) Know what’s available to you
Don’t rely on the phone book or even Google, use our driving instructor search to make sure that you’ve got a complete list of the instructors in your area. It would be a shame to miss out on meeting a suitable driving instructor just because they’re not online or they don’t advertise in the places you’ve been looking.
2) Compare prices
Get prices for as many of your local instructors as possible. Average prices run at around £20-£25 per hour and you should be able to negotiate some discount if you are willing to book a block of pre-paid lessons. If one driving instructor is considerably cheaper than the rest, be sure to consider why that may be. Are they properly qualified? Do they have a bad reputation?
3) Is the instructor up to standard?
You are well within your rights to ask potential instructors about their business. Be sure to ask them what their current pass rate is and how long they’ve been teaching. It’s also important to ask about your potential instructor’s grading.
Every couple of years, driving instructors are examined by the Driving Standards Agency and awarded a grade ranging from Ungraded to Grade 6 based on their teaching ability. Only the best instructors are awarded Grade 6, good instruction earns a Grade 5, competent instruction earns a Grade 4 and those who fail to reach the standards for Grade 4 are labelled as Ungraded. Newly qualified driving instructors who have not yet been assessed may also be Ungraded while they await their first examination.
4) Ask about qualifications
All qualified driving instructors must be registered with the DVSA. Fully qualified instructors will display a green badge in their window and trainees will display a pink one. Instructors should be happy to tell you their qualification level over the phone or show you their badge.
If it turns out that the instructor that you like is only a trainee, don’t be put off straight away. Trainees should always charge less than fully qualified instructors and their enthusiasm for their new job could help you. If in doubt, have a tester lesson.
5) Is the car right for you?
There’s not much point learning to drive in a 4×4 if you’re going to be driving a Smart car when you pass your test. For this exact reason, most instructors use small, sensible cars for their lessons. However, some instructors choose to try and attract customers with flashy convertibles or luxury vehicles that couldn’t be more different from your typical first car.
When you contact your potential instructors, ask what car they drive, the engine size, the fuel type – although there’s not much difference in the way diesel and petrol cars drive these days- and check that it has dual controls. Dual controls allow the instructor to control the vehicle’s pedals. As you can imagine, they’re very important in the early stages of your lessons, when you might make the occasional mistake.
After you’ve whittled your list of instructors down to the handful who meet your requirements, all that’s left to decide on is personality. Make sure that you feel comfortable with your choice, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time together over the coming months. If you’re still unsure, there’s no rule against using more than one instructor until you decide which you prefer.
Image courtesy of dsagovuk @ Flickr via Crown Copyright