Your Driving Instructor
You’re wanting to start driving lessons, but how do you choose a driving instructor? If you look at a few driving school websites you’ll find lots of ‘patient, friendly’ driving instructors. Having worked amongst them for quite a few years now I’m not convinced that they’re all telling the truth! But then, I guess they wouldn’t get many customers if they advertised themselves as ‘grumpy’ or ‘shouty’!
You could ask them their pass rate but then you’ll be given a figure more than 75% (probably) that no-one can either prove or disprove. It may be their actual pass rate, or it may not be. The national pass rate is between 45% and 50% and has been for years. So, if you do ask that question, take the answer with a pinch of salt.
This article won’t tell you which driving instructor to choose, but hopefully it will help you understand what types of driving instructors are out there.
Fully Qualified Driving Instructor or Trainee Driving Instructor?
Did you think all driving instructors are fully qualified? Well, think again! Trainee driving instructors are allowed to teach people to drive too.
Being a trainee doesn’t necessarily make them a bad instructor. They’re more likely to be up-to-date with the latest techniques for example. But they will be inexperienced, so it’s something to bear in mind.
Your driving instructor’s licence (or ‘badge’) tells you if your instructor is a trainee or fully qualified. The licence should be displayed in the windscreen. If it’s pink and has a triangle on, then they’re a trainee. If it’s green and has an octagon on, then they’re fully qualified.
A Better Trained Driving Instructor
Many driving instructors pass their qualifying exams and never take any further training. Imagine, you could get a driving instructor who qualified 25 years ago and has never had a day’s training since. In the last 25 years, the driving test and cars themselves have moved on a lot, just like the rest of the world. Twenty-five years ago, mobile phones were the size of a brick and could only make phone calls. The internet had barely started, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube weren’t even close to existing. A driving instructor who takes further training may well charge more for lessons as extra training costs money. But in the long run it means you should get a better service, be a safer driver, and pass your driving test quicker. This will save you money overall.
And There’s More!
Many driving instructors will offer you extras, it’s up to you to decide what you find of value.
How Would You Like To Pay?
The bad news is that your driving instructor does expect to be paid (it’s usually their only job). The good news is that many will offer you a few ways to do this. Obviously, cash is pretty much universally accepted, and most will still accept cheques. Many driving instructors can now accept credit and debit card payments. Then there’s bank transfers via online or telephone banking, PayPal, and other apps are popping up all the time. You might even find the odd driving instructor who’ll accept Bitcoin! If you’re not sure that the way you want to pay is accepted, then ask.
Discounts and Special Offers
Introductory discounts are often avaialble to encourage you to sign up. Be careful! Some driving instructors will hold back a couple of hours from your introductory block of lessons for your driving test, meaning that you have to stay with them for all the lessons in between unless you want to lose the lessons that have been held back! So be a little cautious about these offers and make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions. Block booking discounts are also popular, where you get £10 or £20 off if you pay for 10 hours upfront. If you’re not sure if your instructor offers this, then ask. Sometimes you might find discounts for longer lessons or student discounts. If these matter to you, then have a look around a few websites. Don’t forget to ask about the refund policy if you end up not using the entire block of lessons.
Theory Test Training
Before you can even book your practical driving test you need to have passed your theory test. Many driving instructors offer free access to a theory test practice website, others will offer help and advice or recommend a product or app. If you’re not sure what you’re doing with the theory test, or don’t know what you should be studying, don’t be afraid to ask.
If you’re one of those people who lives on their mobile phone (or even if you’re not), you might appreciate receiving a text reminder of your driving lesson. You might have to ask if your instructor offers this, but some do. After all, your instructor doesn’t want to be sat twiddling his thumbs while you put your shoes/socks/pants on. And you don’t want to be paying your instructor to sit in his car, twiddling his thumbs, while you put on your shoes/socks/pants!
You’re going to spend quite a number of hours sat in the close confines of a car with your chosen driving instructor, it helps both of you if you get on! If you don’t like your driving instructor, then fire them and get one you do like! (And I bet you never thought you’d hear a driving instructor say that!)
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