Preparing to learn to drive can be a daunting period, and with so many options around when it comes to driving instructors, it can feel quite overwhelming. Let Scrap Car Comparison talk you through everything you should take into account before you choose the instructor that’s going to help you become a fully-fledged solo driver.
Who can teach someone to drive?
There are only three hard and fast rules when it comes to being able to teach someone to drive, and they’re not as restrictive as you might think. Anyone teaching someone to drive must meet the following criteria:
- Be 21 years old or over
- Have held their licence for at least three years
- Be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you are learning in.
This means that you do not need to have a professional driving instructor in the passenger seat next to you. By using a friend or family member to teach you to drive, you not only could save a lot of money on lessons, but you may find it more comfortable driving alongside someone you already know. You also won’t be tied to the instructor’s crowded schedule, so a quick half an hour here or a two-to-three hour drive there won’t need to be squeezed in around other learners.
However, it’s worth remembering that driving instructors are professional for a reason. They are regularly re-examined to ensure their standards are up to where they should be, and while your parents or friends might well be cheaper, they’re not trained to teach you. You also won’t have the benefit of dual controls if you learn to drive in a private car with a friend or family member like you would in an instructor’s car, removing a layer of safety from the learning experience that you’d get with a professional.
Do I need a driving instructor to pass my test?
There is nothing stopping you from going at it alone without an instructor, and you can absolutely go straight to the test without ever having sat alongside a qualified instructor. There are no rules that say you must take the test in an instructor’s car, and you can take the test in any car that you feel comfortable in – providing you are legally allowed to drive it of course.
The only thing you must ensure before you take on your practical driving test is that you have passed your theory test. Without a success on your theory, you will not be able to book your practical at all. You have two years to pass your practical after passing your theory, which should be more than enough time for the majority of drivers, so sorting your theory early should be high on the agenda.
What makes a good driving instructor?
It likely goes without saying that a good driving instructor will have plenty of experience behind the wheel and will be able to impart an immense amount of knowledge when it comes to driving practices and rules of the road.
Aside from the obvious, though, as with all teachers, there should be a level of patience and understanding with a driving instructor. Not everyone is going to get to grips with clutch control on their first attempt, and getting short and stressed with students is only going to make things worse for them. The ability to provide lessons in a calm, relaxed environment is vital to gaining a positive reputation as an instructor.
For some learners, particularly the ones that maybe take a little longer to make it to their test, ensuring their lessons don’t become mundane repeats on a weekly basis is also key, so a good instructor will know how to shake things up enough to keep things fresh while keeping you in a comfortable place.
Finally, time management is one of the biggest factors for an instructor. One of the major advantages to going to an instructor over learning with a friend is that you can block out an hour and know exactly how much lesson time you’re going to have. A good instructor will be able to fit a good amount of content into each hour (or two) session, always ensuring that your lesson ends at the right moment.
What questions should I ask my driving instructor?
If you’re going with a professional and you don’t already know them, then do not be afraid to ask to see some identification and certification to prove they are legally allowed to teach you to drive. You wouldn’t get in a car with a family member if you didn’t know they were a qualified driver, so don’t assume that just because someone’s willing to take your money that everything is above board.
Ask them how they’re going to lay out your lessons, both individually and as a broader plan. You may feel like you’re taking far too long to get to a certain stage of your learning, or perhaps you weren’t expecting to be thrown into roundabouts or parallel parking within your first two lessons.
Everyone knows that driving isn’t cheap, and lessons are no different, so by all means ask if there are any discounts available for bulk booking – worst case scenario? They say no. If you don’t ask, you don’t get..
Can you book a driving test without a driving instructor?
You can book a driving test at any point, providing you have passed your theory test, so there is no need to have a driving instructor at all. One advantage to having an instructor, though, is that they will know at which point it would make sense for you to attempt your test. While you may feel confident enough, there may be elements of your driving that are not yet quite up to scratch, or perhaps you haven’t even touched on an element that they know is more than likely going to come up on a test. It may seem like they’re trying to keep you on a little bit longer to squeeze more money out of you – and indeed that may be the case with some less honest instructors – but for the most part, they’re simply trying to ensure that you pass your test first time, rather than having to go through it all over again.
If you’re currently looking for your first driving instructor, then you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got a great car to step into once you’ve finally passed your test, rather than pootling around in your mum’s old hatchback hand-me-down. By using Scrap Car Comparison, we can take that old car, turn it into cash for you and get you on your way to something a little more alluring.
Find out just how much your old car could be worth today by getting a quote in just 60 seconds, and we’ll do the rest – we’ll even come and collect it from you, wherever you are in the country, at no extra cost. Meanwhile, for more hints and tips on how to keep your new car motoring along for as long as possible, visit our Car Care hub.