How to Choose a Good Driving Instructor

A good, effective driving instructor can not only save you money on lessons but will also help you become a safe, confident driver for life. The question is, how to choose the right one for you?

ADI vs. PDI - Should Your Driving Instructor Be Fully Qualified?

ADI is an Approved Driving Instructor. This qualification means a person has passed exams to be a professional driving instructor and is registered with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). ADIs display their green licence (octagon) on the windscreen of their tuition vehicles.

PDI stands for Potential Driving Instructor. They are licensed instructors under training who are allowed by the DVSA to provide training for payment. PDIs must display their pink licence (triangle) on the windscreen of their tuition vehicles.

To get a pink badge, the trainee driving instructor has to pass parts 1 & 2 (a theory test and a driving test that is the same as the learners' test but one they have to pass with fewer minor faults than a standard learner) of the DVSA instructor examination and have done at least 40 hours ADI training. Then they must do a further 20 hours of training shortly after the badge is issued. Part 3 of the exam is a practical driving test that assesses the trainee's instructional ability.

In my opinion, the only advantage to hiring a PDI instructor is that the price of the lesson is likely to be cheaper. However, this may well prove to be a false economy. Currently, the DVSA is considering banning PDIs from being able to provide driving lessons for payment. So, would you choose a PDI over an ADI?

The Cost of A Driving Lesson

The majority of learners start shopping for driving lessons with this question in mind. This approach turns your shopping into looking for the cheapest option. But if you want to find a good driving instructor, that option would not suit you at all. You should run away from two extremes – overpriced driving lessons and underpriced “special offers”.

The prices charged for lessons can differ widely. The South-East of the UK is the most expensive. Driving tuition here can cost up to £35 per hour. The average across the country is around £28 per hour driving lesson. If the price is cheaper, ask whether the instructor giving the driving lesson is fully qualified. They may not be, hence the low price of the lessons.

Cheap Driving Lessons

Don't be fooled by overly cheap driving lessons. Some driving schools may offer cheap introductory offers such as ten hours driving tuition for £50. These prices don't always add up. Remember cheap in, expensive out. They pull you in with a cheap deal but then you find yourself advised to have more tuition, at the standard rate, than you actually need. All driving schools need to make a profit. You won't get something for nothing.

Quality over quantity. 30 hours of lessons at £20 an hour is cheaper than 40 hours of lessons at £17 per hour. As I say, driving instructors have to earn a reasonable living, they have to pay the bills. If an instructor told you you needed several more lessons before you were likely to pass your test would you take their advice? You probably would, but what if the real motive was to compensate for the cheap lesson prices?

In order to earn a living instructors who offer overly cheap lessons need to work exceedingly long hours. This means long hours in control of a car, often with little in the way of proper breaks. Is this safe? Does it affect their ability to teach? Do these long hours spent chasing a livable wage mean the ADI can keep up-to-date with all current training standards as set out by the DSA? They also need to reduce their business costs I.E. use less petrol, which means less driving for the learner taking the lesson.

Driving instructors offering cheap lessons do so because they do not have the teaching skills to charge more. They are likely to offer poor teaching standards with little or no knowledge of how to teach to the needs of each learner. Their lessons will be of the 'one size fits all' variety, which is fine if you fit that size perfectly, not so if you are a unique individual.

Pass Guarantee

There is no such thing as pass guarantee. However, it is wise to ask your potential driving instructor about his or her driving test pass rate. Of course, you have no way of checking whether quoted pass rate is true. Yet, it is a good way of spotting a driving instructor who makes unreliable statements. The national driving test pass rate is 45.65%. So if your driving instructor is able to provide anything near this figure, you are in good hands.

What Grade Is The Instructor?

Driving Instructors used to be graded 1 to 6

Asking a driving instructor about his or her grade is one of the best ways to assess their competence. Every four years ADIs are tested by the DVSA for the quality of their driving tuition. For a number of years, a six point scale was used to grade instructors, although this has been replaced with a new system many driving instructors have yet to be tested under this new system so continue to be graded using the six point scale.

The six point scale grades instructors as follows:

An instructor who is grade 1 to 3 is still a trainee (PDI) and has yet to fully qualify.

The new scale grades instructors as Grade A or Grade B:

If on the test the instructor fails to meet the Grade B standard they fail the test. They are then given two more chances to make the grade. if they fail, they are removed from the ADI register and so can no longer work as an ADI.

We have covered four basic things to consider while choosing a driving instructor. Although qualification, driving lesson cost, pass rate and instructor’s grade are all very important and relevant choice factors, personal feel is crucial. Your driving instructor can be a 6-grade ADI with the highest pass rate, but if you don’t seem to hit it off well, you probably need to try another one.

Questions To Ask The Driving School

See our driving schools glossary to understand the terms used by driving schools and instructors.

What makes A Good Instructor?

A quality instructor should always:

Reasons To Fire Your Driving Instructor

The real testing comes during your lessons. Below are five main reasons why you should sack that nice guy before you lose your money and hope to pass your driving test successfully.

Quick Tempered

Is your ADI shouting at you? Are they losing their temper every time you make a minor mistake? If so, don’t be frustrated with yourself. You pay for being trained, and training includes making mistakes. A shouting teacher has never been a good one.

Not Enough Driving

How much driving is enough? Don’t expect to get behind the wheel straight away. You are likely to drive for about half of the first lesson. By approximately hour ten, you should be driving all lesson long. If somehow you drive less than that, you are not getting value for your money.

No Feedback

Good ADI always keeps track of his learner’s progress. Getting feedback is crucial for learners so they can get an idea of how well they are doing and what are their weaknesses. It is also crucial for ADI because this helps him focus on a learner’s problems instead of simply completing lesson plans.

Mobile Phone Chatter

If your ADI keeps chatting on their hands-free mobile phone all the time, just run away. You are charged an hourly rate, so their mobile phone use robs you of your paid-for lesson time. In addition, it interrupts and interferes with the learning process.

Taxi, Please

Once you drove your ADI to a shopping centre or a bank. But then you start getting this uncomfortable feeling your ADI is using driving lessons to go about his business. You are doing the driving all right, but as your teacher does his shopping, the paid time is ticking away.

Next: Driving School Code of Practice