Saturday 11 September 2010

The perfect driving instructor...what to look for.

When we go shopping for something we take our time to make sure that we have the right item before we pull out our wallet or purse and part with our hard earned money.  Sometimes we look for recommendations from people we know or even reviews from complete strangers.  Sometimes we try the item out, clothes for example or have a demonstration of the item from a sales assistant.  Sometimes we might even sit and make a list of all the features we want from an item before taking the plunge.  Isn't it amazing then that we don't do something similar when choosing a driving instructor?  And, believe me, some people don't.

So what should we look for and what should we think about?  This is where I would start.
  1. A fully qualified DSA approved driving instructor.  Uncle Joe may be a good driver but you need to learn the right way to drive so have at least a few lessons with a DSA instructor.  You can find these by looking for the green DSA logo.  There is also a green licence attached to the windscreen which they must display when instructing.  If the licence is pink then it means that they are a trainee instructor.  This doesn't mean that you shouldn't learn with them but be aware that they are not fully qualified.
  2. Make sure that the car is insured for you to drive as a learner and to be taught in.  Hardly any standard car insurance will be sufficient and accidents without insurance are bad news for everyone.
  3. Pass Rate - Beware, a high pass rate doesn't necessarily mean that the instructor is good.  It may be that they encourage you to take more lessons than you actually need before taking your test, costing you more.  Likewise a poor pass rate doesn't necessarily mean a bad instructor.  Most pupils who fail do so because they do something silly on test, not because the instructor has failed in their teaching.
  4. What are their terms and conditions? - Get them up-front.  If they won't let you have them, ask yourself why.  Make sure you are happy with all of them.  Bear in mind that they are there for your protection as well as theirs.
  5. Beware Hidden Costs - Some instructors charge £60 for you to use the car for the test in addition to the test fee to the test centre.
  6. Special Offers - Find out what happens when the special offer ends.  Sometimes the savings from a good deal at the start are wiped out by the costs later on.
  7. Testimonials - Are there any testimonials?  Ask them to put you in contact with a couple of current or ex-pupils so that you can chat to them about their experiences.  Ask lots of questions.  Is the instructor polite, well-presented, patient, reliable, punctual, professional etc.?  Is their teaching good?
  8. Take a trial lesson or two and make sure that you are completely happy with all aspects of the lesson. If you are not completely happy then tell the instructor.  The instructor may well be able to adjust their teaching style accordingly.  It may be that there it just doesn't work.  If so, don't worry about walking away and finding a different, more suitable instructor but do please tell the old instructor.
  9. Finally, don't book a group of lessons until you are completely satisfied that the instructor is right for you.  Any additional money that you might spend in assuring yourself that it is the right instructor is money well spent.  Having to take 8 or 9 lessons with an instructor that you don't get on with because you have paid upfront is a waste of money and won't help your driving, so take a couple of lessons at a slightly higher price if necessary to make sure.
I hope the above helps you to make the right choice.

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