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How to choose a driving instructor

Choosing the right driving instructor can make the difference between test success and failure. Here’s how you pick one that’s right for you.

Car salesman handing keys to female driver

If you’re learning to drive, or possibly helping out someone who is, then one of the first steps you’ll have to take is choosing an instructor.

This isn’t necessarily as straightforward as you might think, as there are a lot of factors to weigh up. But as luck would have it, we’re here to send you down the road to driving success.

Where to start

Well, you're on the internet now, so why not start here? The easiest way to find and compare decent instructors is online.

Of course there are the popular driving schools, like the British School of Motoring (BSM) and the AA Driving School. But personal recommendations from friends are family are also good.

Also, with all instructors, have a good old natter before you part with your cash. Instructors who’ve enrolled with the bigger schools will expect this too, so don’t be shy about asking.

If you’re offered a free or reduced-price trial lesson, take it. This’ll be a good test of whether you feel comfortable with them before having to shell out any money.

Also, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) keeps a list of licensed driving instructors that you can search by postcode.


Carefree woman in car driving

Price is a pretty important factor, as few of us are lucky enough to have a bottomless budget.

The average hourly driving lesson is priced at £24. And the DVSA recommends that the average learner needs 47 hours of formal lessons, so it can leave a pretty big dent in your wallet.

You may find a one-hour lesson insufficient though, so consider doing lessons of 90 minutes or two hours. You’re likely to get more into the swing of things this way.

Don’t pay twice the hourly rate for a two-hour lesson though. The one-hour price should have the instructor travelling to you and back factored in – and they won’t have to do this twice!

Here are some more tips on how you can cut the cost of learning to drive.

Instructor’s ability and qualifications

Girl learning to drive with the instructor

If you’re going to pay your instructor, then they have to be Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs).

Learner cars will display one of two types of badge issued by DVSA.

If the instructor is fully qualified, then they’ll have a green octagon. A licensed trainee who has yet to fully qualify will have a pink triangle.

In addition to this, ADIs undergo a standards check which assesses their ability to teach. These are graded into three categories:

  • Grade A
  • Grade B
  • Fail

Trainee instructors

If you want to pay less, it’s possible to get trainee driving instructors through driving schools.

Obviously cutting the cost sacrifices the instructor’s experience accordingly, so it’s up to you to strike the right balance.

If you’re fairly confident, then the trainee route may well suit you. If you’re a nervous driver, then a more seasoned instructor might be for the best, as they’ll have had more practice at dealing with jittery students.

Pass rate

Girl tearing L plates

An instructor’s pass rate isn’t necessarily as helpful as you might think, because in isolation the term is practically meaningless.

If you want to know about pass rates, be clear on how they’re calculated, e.g. if the percentage given is for those who pass first time. Knowing the average amount of lessons might help too.

The car itself

The more similar the learner car is to the first car you’ll eventually be driving, the better.

It’s essential to take professional lessons in a car with dual controls, so if something bad happens, the instructor will be able to intervene.

Also, if you’re particularly tall or short, be sure that the seat can be adjusted to the level that makes you comfortable.

Most important

Ultimately, who you choose as your instructor should be someone who communicates clearly, is patient with you and makes you feel comfortable behind the wheel.

If you don’t get on with your instructor or you find their methods don’t agree with you, it’s worth considering switching instructors sooner rather than later.

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Owe Carter

Owe Carter

Owe Carter is a content producer who's worked for since 2007. He's the author of our Carless Cities report. Twitter: @ConfusedOwe View more from Owe