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How to choose a driving instructor

Illustration of person choosing between two driving instructors

It’s likely that you’ll be spending hours with your driving instructor while learning to drive, so it’s important that you choose the right driving instructor for you. But how should you choose a driving instructor? What sort of qualities should you look for, and should you sit with a few before you settle on one? Find out all this and more in our blog.

How do I find a driving instructor?

There are two main options: either go through a driving school or use the government site to find approved instructors in your area.

Are there any qualifications I should look for?

The most important thing is to make sure your driving instructor is either an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) or a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI). The former is fully qualified, while the latter is in training.

When you start taking lessons with them, the instructor should display a badge in their car to prove that they’re qualified – a green badge for ADIs and a pink badge for PDIs. Make sure that you check this before you start having your lessons.

As a general rule, ADIs have more experience teaching, but choosing a PDI doesn’t mean the teacher is unqualified to teach you; they’re just building experience before they qualify fully. Lessons with a PDI are usually cheaper than lessons with an ADI, so this could help you save money. They might also be more fresh and positive about instructing you.

How do I know if my driving instructor is qualified before I book a lesson?

Woman learning to drive with driving instructor sitting next to her
Most driving school instructors will need to have specific qualifications in order to teach, and the government portal will only list instructors who are fully qualified ADIs.

If I go through a driving school, will I be able to choose my driving instructor?

Although driving schools will usually assign a driving instructor to you based on availability, some schools allow you to request a certain type of instructor. For instance, RED Driving School allows learners to request instructors based on their learning requirements. This could be for a number of reasons – you might want to request a female driving instructor or someone who speaks another language.

What to look for when choosing your driving instructor

Beyond qualifications, which are highly important, there are a number of other qualities you should look for in your driving instructor.

1. Ask your friends for recommendations

If any of your friends have passed their driving test, you might want to ask them if they’d recommend their driving instructor. Of course, it’s best to ask local friends as you’ll want to find an instructor who’s close to you (unless you’re choosing to take your test in a different area of the UK for whatever reason).

And if you know your friend passed first time, that’s even better!

2. Make sure the instructor can cater to your needs

If you have any special requests for your instructor, make sure they can cater to your needs. For instance, you might want to ask for different drop off and pick up points if you’re working that day or need to travel to your school or university nearby.

3. Get to know them first

Woman on the phone with laptop in front of her making notes

There’s no harm in sending the instructor an email or calling them to let them know you’re thinking of taking lessons with them, and this gives you the opportunity to ask them a few questions. In order to get a feel for their teaching style and past performance, ask questions like the following:

  1. How would you describe your teaching style?
  2. How many lessons do your students usually take before they’re test ready?
  3. How often do you think I should have lessons?
  4. How long are your waiting times?

While there are no real right or wrong answers, the instructor’s answers (and even the way they talk to you or talk about their past students) should give you an indication as to how well suited they will be. For instance, if you learn better with encouragement and kindness, you might find that a driving instructor who answers your questions quite brusquely isn’t a good fit.

According to the DVSA, the average learner driver will need 45 hours on the road with a qualified instructor. If the instructor suggests that their students need a lot longer than this in order to pass, you might be better off contacting other instructors too.

As for the final two questions, these can be used to make sure you and your instructor’s schedules will match.

What qualities to look for in your driving instructor

When you start having lessons with your instructor, you’ll quickly find out if your personalities and teaching/learning styles are compatible. While many don’t consider the former to be important, as you’ll be spending roughly 45 hours with them in an enclosed space it’s a good idea to find a good fit!

1. Look for an instructor who is patient

Young woman having a driving lesson with her instructor

This is quite possibly the most important quality to look for when choosing a driving instructor. You’ll want someone who is patient with you while you learn to drive and doesn’t fly into a temper if you get something wrong. Being on the road is nerve-wracking enough, you don’t need someone being impatient with you too.

2. Make sure your instructor explains or demonstrates manoeuvres to you

The last thing you need is to be thrown into the deep end and told to do something when you aren’t sure how. One person from our team said that in the first couple of sessions, her instructor told her to drive down a road and that there would be a “surprise” on the road – turned out it was a 40mph road and she had no way of knowing until he told her. Although some might prefer this teaching style, it didn’t suit her personality, so suffice to say she changed driving instructors soon after.

3. Make sure they’re using your time well

You’re paying your driving instructor to teach you how to drive, so they should give you an idea of what you’ll be covering in your future lessons. They should also use your time well, which means that they arrive for your lessons on time and don’t waste time popping to the shops or petrol station, or answering their phone when they’re teaching you.

Choose a good driving instructor and you’ll be ready for your test in no time

Find a good driving instructor and your lessons won’t feel like a chore. We know it’ll be difficult to even consider learning with anyone else once you’ve scored a great driving instructor, but consider also practising your driving skills with a qualified parent or guardian.

The DVSA suggests that you supplement the 45 hours you spend with your driving instructor with around 20 hours with a supervisor. Driving with family and friends helps you get more time on the road for free, which is ideal if you’re already feeling the high costs associated with learning to drive.

Get affordable learner driver insurance

And if you want to cut costs further, choose Adrian Flux for your learner driver insurance. Our affordable cover is available from just 65p per day. If you’re learning in someone else’s car, taking out your own cover helps ensure that, even if you need to make a claim, you won’t affect the owner’s no claim bonus (NCB). It also allows you to start building up your own NCB, which can be used to get cheaper premiums when you pass.

Call us on 0800 369 8590 or book a callback for a fast and affordable quote.

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