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Starting driving lessons

How to choose a driving instructor

When it comes to choosing the person to teach your child to drive, being involved is an absolute must.

In any other situation, letting your 17-year-old daughter get in the car of an unknown middle-aged man would be unthinkable. An instructor is responsible for your child’s safety, legality and driving future - don’t you want to check they’re legit and dedicated to teaching safe driving for life?

Be involved from the beginning: researching local instructors, meeting them, asking questions and staying interested.

  1. Ask around

    The best way to find the right driving instructor is to go by recommendation. If you know a family of 4 children who have all been taught by the same instructor and passed first time, that beats a fancy website hands down.

    If you can’t get a recommendation, check the list of DVSA-registered instructors on GOV.UK.

  2. Check the qualifications

    “Oh, my mate’s big brother is going to teach me” - oh no he’s not. Having actually seen what happens when a friend of a friend is doing the teaching, be very wary. Being late for the test because the 'instructor' didn't set an alarm? Not a good start.

    Anyone giving driving lessons must be a DSA-approved Potential Driving Instructor (PDI) or Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). If they’re taking money without these qualifications, they’re breaking the law.

    Your child won’t ask for ID and proof of qualification. As an embarrassing (caring) parent, you can and should.

    Look for the green hexagon saying Driving Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) or pink triangle saying Driving Standards Agency Licensed Trainee.

    They must have this badge displayed in their car window.

    ADI and PDI badges
    Image: GOV.UK
    Choosing a trainee instructor isn't a bad idea: they've got fresh knowledge and will be very keen to get some good references under their belts. You could also get a lower rate while they're training.
  3. Get a feel for their approach

    We all judge people straight off, but unlike your child, you've had a lot of years’ practice with feeling people out. Ask a few questions to get an idea of what kind of person they are and how they work.

    • How long have you been teaching?
    • How long do your students usually take to feel ready for their test?
  4. Ask for their advice

    Take advantage of meeting a few instructors and ask for their advice on things like how many lessons to have a week.

    • What lesson length do you advise?
    • How long do you recommend waiting to start private practice?
  5. Don’t jump at the cheapest

    A driving instructor has many costs before they take a profit. If an instructor is charging a lot less than the average £24 an hour, where are they cutting costs? Budget tyres? Not attending courses? It doesn't bear thinking about.

    Some instructors will offer a discount if you book several lessons at once, so ask upfront. However, it’s best not to buy a block straight away as you’ll want to be sure they’re the right person.

    There aren’t many ways to make this part of learning to drive cheaper, but bear in mind that you’ll save money in the long run if your child has the RIGHT instructor who will teach them efficiently. A cheap instructor might be good now, but if it takes longer for your child to pass their test, it’s a false economy.

  6. Don't forget to ask about the practicalities

    • Where will you pick up and drop off - is college or work OK?
    • What is the latest notice for cancelling a lesson without losing the fee?
    • How flexible are you on lesson times and days?