When learning to drive, selecting the right instructor can be a make-or-break decision. This person will be guiding you through a tricky and potentially lengthy process that requires patience, determination and good communication from everyone involved. So, in order to be successful, you need to find the right fit.
Here are a few qualities you should look for in a driving instructor, and why they matter!
DVSA stamp of approval
You want to make sure that your driving instructor is legit. They must have passed (or be at least part way through) the official instructor training programme. Don’t be fooled by fraudsters posing as qualified driving instructors. The only people who can charge money to teach learner drivers are PDIs (potential driving instructors) and ADIs (approved driving instructors). The former are individuals who are part-way through their training, while the latter are fully qualified, DVSA-approved instructors.
How do you know if someone is a PDI or ADI? They’ll display either a pink triangle (PDI) or green octagon (ADI) badge on their windscreen. You can also contact the DVSA to check if a certain person is on their records. Anyone selling driving lessons without a licence to do so is acting illegally.
It goes without saying, really, that you want an instructor who has already helped a lot of people earn their licence. This indicates that they possess all of the necessary skills and know how to work with learners who have a variety of different needs.
People who have been in the job for a long time are also likely to have a thorough understanding of local test routes and examiners. You can’t beat someone who has insider knowledge!
All that being said, everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t write PDIs or new ADIs off straight away. These individuals still have a lot to offer. All of their training will be up to date and fresh in their minds, and they’re likely to be very enthusiastic!
When learning to drive you’re unlikely to get everything (if anything!) right first time. It’s really important for your progress, therefore, that you have an instructor who is understanding and patient. Someone who gets frustrated or annoyed when you don’t master skills straight away is only going to knock your confidence and make hinder your progression.
Practice makes perfect, and a good instructor will give you enough space and encouragement to learn and grow until you are ready for the test.
A teaching style that suits you
Some people are visual learners, some people are verbal learners and some people simply like to get stuck in and learn by experience. The point is, everyone responds differently to certain teaching methods and you need to find an instructor that matches your preferred learning style.
When selecting an instructor, you’re not necessarily trying to separate the bad from the good. Rather, it’s about finding what works for you.
Think about how you take in information. Do you find a no-nonsense, tough love teacher gets the best out of you? Or maybe a softer approach is more effective. To get an idea of how a particular instructor does their job, you might consider taking a course assessment with them before booking multiple lessons.
Driving is stressful, particularly when you’re a newbie. The best instructors are ready for the unexpected and won’t fly off the handle when you make a mistake. Dual controls are in place so that the instructor can take over control of the car should anything go wrong. There’s no reason, then, for your instructor to be anything other than cool as a cucumber.
As you may have learned from practice drives with your parents, when someone in the car is on edge, it can be very off putting for the person behind the wheel. Thankfully, the opposite is also true—if your instructor is calm and laid-back, you should feel nice and relaxed in the driver’s seat.
Hopefully, after reading this, you will feel a bit more confident about which qualities you should look for when choosing a driving instructor. But remember, there is no Goldilocks or one size fits all when it comes to who you get along with! It may be a case of trial and error until you find the right match.