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Finding the right driving instructor for you

Student Life 🕔November 7, 2017

Finding the right driving instructor for you

So you want to learn how to drive. A life of independence and spontaneity beckons – and all that stands between you and freedom on the road is the not inconsiderable challenge of passing your driving test.

The plan

You need a plan, a method of attack that is failsafe, cost-effective and efficient. Driving lessons are not cheap, but if you look upon them as an investment in a better life, they are worth every penny. The DVSA (Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency) estimates the average driver requires around forty-seven hours of formal lesson time with an instructor. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to know that adds up to a pretty sum. As well as formal lessons, after a while, you may feel confident enough to go out practicing your driving with a responsible friend, parent or sibling.

The first thing you’ve got to do is find yourself an instructor you can rely on to deliver the goods. It’s a smart idea to ask around family and friends for recommendations – but remember that everybody is different. Some personality types get better results with certain instructors than others, it’s all about the chemistry between you and your teacher. If you are feeling relaxed, able to communicate easily and safe in their company, that’s a pretty good position to start from. Most instructors will agree to a trial lesson to see how you get on.

Another good hunting ground for driving instructors in your area is the internet. The DVSA (Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency) keep a list of licensed driving instructors in your postcode to make it easier to search locally. If you are looking for driving instructors Oxford has a leading teacher with an exceptional first-time pass rate that’s difficult to ignore. If you want your driving instructors Oxford based and with added services such as advanced driving lessons, there is plenty of provision in this town famous for its learning excellence.

Check that your instructor has the necessary permissions and qualifications to be teaching the arts of the road. A fully accredited driving instructor (ADI) will display a green octagonal sticker on their windscreen. Trainee driving instructors who haven’t achieved full accreditation yet but are still able to teach, display a pink triangle sticker in the windscreen. For confident learner drivers, trainee instructors are a good way of keeping costs down as they charge less than fully qualified instructors. You have to balance the cheaper cost against their limited experience – it’s a personal calculation only you can make. Trainee instructors work out of franchised driving schools and bigger operations rather than on a self-employed basis. Once they have passed all their exams, they can go on to become an independent self-employed operator.

Back in 2014, an assessment test was introduced to ensure the quality of driving instruction in the industry. With the aim of maintaining high standards of teaching, this assessment can produce three results; A grade (85% or higher – high standard), B grade (65% or higher – sufficient level of competence) or a fail (unsatisfactory). You are totally within your rights to ask to see the instructor’s certificate to see how they faired on their last quality assessment.

Ask about the type of car your instructor uses. If possible, try to learn in a vehicle that is closest to the one you will ultimately be driving on the road. Most tuition vehicles are smallish models under three years old. There will be dual controls so that if things get a bit out of control, your instructor can step in and take over. If you are of large stature, ensure that the car is big enough for you to be seated comfortably. Check that the seats can be adjusted adequately for an optimal driving position.

You hear tales of some driving instructors stopping off at the shops to collect stuff, filling up with petrol mid-lesson, taking constant phone calls, picking up kids from school and playing rock music loudly – this is all unprofessional behavior that you don’t need to tolerate. If you take a trial lesson, listen to recommendations and trust your instinct, this hopefully won’t happen to you.

Learning to drive is one of life’s very unique experiences. Nobody ever forgets their driving instructor, even in later years – the memories remain vivid over time. So why don’t you pick up the phone and start organizing some driving lessons? Take your first steps along the road to being a fully qualified driving license holder…