Driving Lessons

When you learn to drive, it is important that you learn safe driving habits from the start, to improve the safety of yourself and other road users. Although a friend or family member can teach you, it is unlikely that they would have the full experience, knowledge and training to teach you properly. Although it is not compulsory, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recommends that you take lessons with an ADI (approved driving instructor). Not only is this the safest way to learn, but it will also help to ensure that you do not pick up any bad habits (which may be hard to break later) and will vastly increase your chances of pass success.

Approved Driving Instructors (ADI)

Any driving instructor who is fully qualified and also approved and registered with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) must display a green certificate on the windscreen of the car whilst they are teaching you. Trainee driving instructors will display a pink certificate on the windscreen. Only a registered approved driving instructor is permitted to charge money for teaching you to drive.

Not only will an ADI teach you to drive, but they will also be able to offer you advice on all aspects of driving, how to practice, what books to read and when to take your test. One of the best ways of finding a good instructor is to ask friends and relatives to recommend someone they know. They should have a good reputation, be reliable and punctual, and have a car that suits you. Alternatively, you can find approved driving drivers or schools in your local business directory. Large and well-known schools have instructors across the country and there will certainly be one in your area.

Driving Instructor Checklist

Here are just some of the questions that you might like to ask when you are selecting a driving instructor or school :

  • Will my instructor be fully qualified?
  • Do you have any female instructors?
  • What courses do you provide?
    For example, intensive, semi-intensive, residential, motorway or Passplus.
  • Do you use the DSA syllabus?
  • How much do you charge?
  • Do you offer any discounts, such as for block bookings or for NUS or UCAS cards?
  • Do you give full hour lessons?
  • Can you pick me up or drop me off at school, college, work or home?
  • Can I have my lessons at the weekends or evenings?
  • What type of car will I be taught in?
  • What features does the car have?
  • Does it have dual controls?
  • What test centres do you cover?

Lessons

There is no 'magic number' of lessons you need to take before you'll be ready to take your practical test; everybody learns to drive at their own pace. However, a good driving instructor will monitor your progress carefully and will give you honest advice on how ready you are. However, those who pass their driving test have had, on average, about 45 hours of professional training combined with 22 hours of private practice. Learners who prepare this way, with a combination of plenty of professional training and plenty of practice, are much more likely perform better in their test.

On average, driving lessons from a reliable independent instructor or driving school will cost you about £20-30 per hour. Many instructors will offer you discounts for block bookings (10, 25 or more hours), and some may also give discounts to NUS or other card holders.

Which Type of Car Should you Choose?

Although most people learn to drive in a manual car, you may also take lessons in an automatic car, which is usually easier to drive, particularly for for older or disabled people. A manual car has gears and three foot pedals, including the clutch, which is operated with the left foot. An automatic car has no clutch pedal. Instead it has an automatic gearbox that senses the need for a change to a higher or lower gear and makes the change for itself.

Although it is up to you which type of car you choose to learn in, it is worth bearing in mind that that if you pass the practical driving test in an automatic car, you will only be licensed to drive an automatic. If you wanted to drive a manual car, you would have to pass another practical test again in a manual car. If you pass in a manual car, you are legally entitled to drive both types.

Practising Your Driving

Even if you choose to take lessons from an approved driving instructor, you may want to practice your driving outside of your lessons. If so, you must drive with an accompanying driver over the age of 21, who has held a full EC/EEA Driving Licence for the category of vehicle being driven for at least three years. They are not permitted to charge you for this - even if it's just money for fuel. It's important to bear this in mind, as anyone who does not comply with these requirements could be liable for 3-6 penalty points, discretionary disqualification or a fine of up to £1,000 - as could you, the learner driver.