Choosing your driving instructor
Driving instructors come in all colours, genders, shapes and sizes. The information on this page will help you to choose a driving instructor who is right for you.
You no longer have to have an instructor who wears a cardigan and smokes a pipe (in fact it's illegal for your instructor to smoke in a driving school car).
Because you will spend anything up to £1000 on lessons - some people pay more - you deserve an instructor who is right for you.
The best way to find any service is to get a recommendation from a friend, this is a good start when learning to drive and looking for driving lessons - but don't take it for granted that someone who suited your friend will also suit you.
The chances are that is someone has been recommended to you they will be great - but be prepared to 'shop around' if you are unsure.
If you are starting from scratch with no recommendation spend your first £50 or even £100 shopping around. 'Try before you buy.'
The quickest, cheapest and best way to drive is to find an instructor who inspires you with confidence and who you get on well with.
Find an instructor
Use this search to find an instructor who uses the DriverActive system.
Instructors who use DriverActive benefit from the latest training knowledge base at SmartDriving - they can help you with course handouts and other benefits.
Lesson price is only a rough guide to the cost of learning, lots of 'cheap' lessons can work out to be far more costly in the long run than fewer 'expensive' lessons if you don't have an instructor who is right for you.
Also, be aware that some cut price services cut corners to save fuel and other costs. More talking than driving, or instructors who can't afford to take the training needed to keep them up-to-date with modern accelerated learning methods.
A simple test
Here is the simple test to discover whether an instructor is right for you...
If, at the end of a lesson you feel that you haven't totally enjoyed the experience or that you have learned little or nothing, the chances are that the instructor is not right for you.
Everyone has a bad lesson from time-to-time, but these should be rare. If you have two or three 'bad lessons' in succession - seriously consider changing your teacher.
Some people learn to drive with friends and relatives, but as roads get busier it's a good idea for all learners to have some lessons with a professional instructor - but make sure that your instructor is qualified to teach you.
Your instructor must be Approved or Licenced ...
Approved Driving Instructors (ADI's) have passed a tough examination in order to demonstrate their skills. They are also checked and graded regularly.
Fully qualified instructors display a green badge in the windscreen.
Grading ranges from '1' to '6'. The highest grade is '6' and the minimum acceptable grade is '4'. Instructors who have a grade of '3' or lower are under review and risk having their tuition licences revoked.
Instructors are issued with a certificate which shows their grade, they should be happy to show this if asked.
Licenced instructors are in the final stages of training and qualification. These instructors have undergone a minimum required training programme and but have not yet passed the final qualifying examination.
Licenced instructors display a pink badge in the windscreen.
While Licenced Instructors are expert drivers and have learned the basic teaching skills, they have less than six months experience in the job. Although Licenced Instructors lack experience, they are invariably enthusiastic and have been trained to the latest standards.
Your instructor's photograph will be displayed on the rear of the pink or green badges (just like on passport photos, they might look like convicts!).
Some instructors will have further qualifications such as special advanced driving certificates, teaching diplomas and even industry related degrees. Generally speaking, better qualified and experienced instructors will offer better value (although the might charge a bit more), however, take note of the warning advice below.
It is illegal for anyone who is not an Approved or Licenced driving instructor to charge a fee for driving tuition.
In addition, the instructor must, by law, display his/her certificate in the windscreen during lessons.
It's up to you to choose wisely!
Make sure that you are comfortable with your instructor and be prepared to change if you are not!
Buying driving lessons is no different from getting value for money from your local supermarket, garage, window cleaner, or any other retail or service provider.
Everyone learns in different ways, but it is your instructor's job to make your learning experience as enjoyable and easy as possible.
If you are struggling, it might well be your instructor's lack of skill rather than your lack of aptitude. Alternatively, it might be that your instructor is good for some people but not for you...
Remember, it's your money! Make sure that you are happy with what you are paying for.