First, you must only take paid for driving lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), or an instructor who has a licence and is training to be an ADI.
The vehicle you learn in should have either a green octagon badge, showing the instructor is an ADI, or a pink triangle for a probationary instructor.
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) administers these awards, and they grade instructors. Grade 6 is the highest standard they can award and anyone with a rating over four is, at least competent.
Any purchase should be carefully considered and your choice of driving instructor. In fact, as you will be spending quite some time with this person, will be putting a lot of trust in them and will need to take in a lot of information from them, it’s very important that you have a good relationship.
If a driving school offers you lessons with a pink-badged trainee, then you might want to ask for a discount.
It’s a good idea to ask for a free or discounted introductory lesson with any school you are considering. Are you able to learn from this person?
Always check how long each lesson will last, exactly how much it will cost and find out if there is a cancellation fee.
The car you learn in
Most cars are pretty similar and most driving schools use small, around town cars – they need good fuel economy to earn their keep. Obviously, in an idea world you would learn to drive in exactly the same model that you intend to drive once you pass your test. This is rarely going to be possible – you may not even own your own car yet and insurance and even car leasing deals are expensive for learner drivers – but you should learn in an automatic transmission car if that is what you’ll be driving as a qualified driver.
Most, but not all, driving schools have dual controls. This means that the instructor can override your control of the vehicle in an emergency. If you are very nervous, then knowing you have this back up can be a great nerve settler.
You shouldn’t hesitate to ask for the car’s driving position to be adjusted to suit you. If you’re very short or very tall then some models of car just won’t be suitable for you. If this is the case, you need to find a different school that can accommodate you.
You are putting your safety at risk to some extent when you get into any vehicle. It’s only right that the car you learn in should be road-worthy and fully equipped – ask about air bags and other safety equipment.
Your time, your money
If you’re paying for someone’s time, they should be giving you their undivided attention. Some small schools or independents might ask you to pick up and drop off pupils at the start or end of your lesson. You may not mind this, but do ask if this time is included in paid lesson time.
Practice makes perfect
Your driving lessons are only part of the process of learning to drive. You are bound to want to practice with a friend or relative. Be aware that learning to drive can be stressful and you need someone with a bit of patience beside you.
Legally, anyone who sits in the passenger seat while you’re learning must be over 21-years-old and have held their driving licence for three years or more.
Take advice from your driving instructor on what parts of your driving should be worked on in these practice sessions. He should know what you need to focus on and you will save money if you follow this advice.
Never drive any car – whether owned by yourself, hired or sourced through a car leasing deal – without the correct insurance.