Q. What is the difference between Independent Instructors and those who work for company’s such as BSM, AA, Red, and many other well known branded schools?
A. None... all instructors are self employed. Those who you see in company branded cars run on a franchise. They pay weekly fees to hire the car or use the roof box and students are introduced via the company. Both Approved and Provisional Driving Instructors can run a franchise.
Q. Are cheap or free lessons offered by some schools value for money?
A. No... consistent very cheap or free lessons just may reflect the quality of tuition given. The costs of running a school are high i.e. fuel, insurance, road tax, servicing, advertising and depreciation of tuition vehicle. It typically costs £9 per hour to cover these costs. A lot of schools are offering lessons such as 10 hours for £99 (approx just under £10 per hr), the Instructor will be little motivated, if at all, to earn approx £10 for 10 hours work (approximately £1 per hour after costs) which is less than the legal minimum wage. The
Driving Instructors Association, a lead body in the profession, suggested that in order to earn the average wage, Instructors should be charging a minimum of £30 per hour (running costs are the same countrywide for all instructors), however with the increase of VAT/Fuel, car insurance and car tax etc £35 per hour should realistically be the minimum charge.
Q. What should I expect on my lesson?
A. Instructor should arrive on time and behave professionally. Lessons should start with recap questions of previous lessons or students history, this is followed by the lesson objective and then an outline of the lesson using a teaching book with diagrams. A progress card is provided, encouragement given when you get things right, fault ID - analysis and remedy provided when
vou get things wrong, you will be told what you need to study before next lesson, demonstration of lesson when required. An interest is also shown in your progress and constructive feedback. You should also be able to ask questions in regard to your training.
Q. Are there different types of Instructors?
A. Yes... a fully qualified Instructor is known as an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor). These instructors will display a green ADI Certificate on the window-screen. They have passed three rigorous exams prior to joining the DSA Register for Approved Driving Instructors.
A part qualified instructor is known as a PDI (Provisional Driving Instructor) and displays a pink triangle badge in the window-screen. The DSA issue this pink badge enabling the Trainee to work for a 6 month period to gain work experience in a manual car before taking the final part of their qualifying exam. Those PDI’s who pass the final exam join the Register for DSA Approved Driving Instructors.
Q. Can anyone accept payment for giving driving tuition?
A. No... only and PDI’s registered with the DSA are allowed by law to take money for driving tuition. If your instructor does not display either of the above badges then they are not qualified to teach or allowed to take money. The badge will display an ID photograph, ADI Number and date of issue/date of expiry. Please ask to see badge.
Q. What are the differences between an Automatic and a Manual Car?
A. Cars with automatic transmission don’t have clutch pedals, only brake and gas pedals. They also have a gear selector allowing the driver to select Drive, Reverse, Neutral, Park and Hill Gears. They are easier to drive and allow the driver more time to plan ahead, position, and steer. Gear cars have a clutch pedal and sprung gear lever and require manual gear change.
Q. Why are 2 hour lessons beneficial?
A. They are advantageous as it allows the student more time to practice and progress at a faster rate. 1 hour lessons only allows the student limited time to practice, the session is taken up with recap questions of previous lesson, drive to training area, covering the main points of the lesson objective by the road side, followed by a roadside summary of the lesson and drive home.
Q. Are early morning lessons beneficial?
A. Definitely... it allows you more time to concentrate whilst roads are quiet and also gives you experience of how to cope with rush hour conditions. Early lessons also enable students to do lessons prior to starting work, going to college / university, providing it is within a convenient local area, most students drive themselves to drop-off points. Evening lessons can be tiring as people who have worked all day are tired and concentration levels are lower.
Q. Is it advisable for a friend or family member to teach me?
A. No... whilst they are allowed to supervise, please remember they are not qualified to teach you to drive and can pass on bad driving habits, making it less likely to pass the Driving Test. It is also dangerous as they have no control if something goes wrong. An ADI drives a dual controlled car and is trained to take over at a moments notice should things go wrong. A recent survey by the AA showed that those who shunned professional tuition to learn with family or friends saw their L-Test success rate plummet to 15 per cent worse than the UK average. Failure rates in London are 71%, national failure rates are 46% and rising, 336,352 learners had to restart all over again in 2010.
Q. What should I bring to every lesson?
A. Both parts of your driving licence, flat shoes, glasses if worn, bottle of water.
Q. I have a Provisional Driving Licence, do I need special insurance to practice privately?
A. Yes...most insurance companies won't allow you to put a provisional licence holder on a family member's insurance. Those who do allow you to put a learner on your insurance will frequently charge up to £3,000+ per year. A lot of insurance companies won't cover those aged under 21 and some place the restriction at 25. For under 21 you need to look for an insurance company that will specialise in this area although from what I have seen this will also cost you approximately £100 per month. Individual learner insurance can cost up to approx £75,000. In conclusion, you have to weigh up whether the cost of specialist insurance is justified, or spend the money on additional professional lessons. A learner school car is already insured for students and has the benefit of dual controls, and most importantly the expertise of an Approved Driving Instructor to guide you if you go wrong.
Q. Are motorway lessons necessary after I have passed my test?
A. Yes... by taking lessons you will gain a better understanding of how to travel safely on the motorway whilst adhering to the Highway Code. You will be taught how to join and exit safely, who has priority, when to overtake, and what distance you should maintain between vehicles.
Q. Are refresher lessons beneficial to full licence holders?
A. Yes...people struggling with bay / parallel parking, roundabouts, meeting oncoming traffic in narrow roads, etc would greatly benefit from the guidance of an ADI to remedy any problems they are having with their driving. Licence holders often need refreshers lessons for roundabouts as they vary in design and layout, i.e. spiral, satellite, marked, unmarked, controlled, mini / T-junction roundabouts and roundabouts with segregated lanes.
Q. Where should I display P or L plates on my car?
A. They should be displayed on the right-hand side of your bonnet and a clear area on the boot near the number plate. Do not put these plates on either the front windscreen or rear window as they only obstruct your view of the road and can lead to you missing potential hazards which could result in an accident. Your supervisor is not allowed to drive with an L plate when alone.