Learning to drive a car

Find a driving instructor
Choosing your instructor is an investment that can save you time, money and a lot of a disappointment in failed driving tests. Choosing the cheapest does not mean value for money. Before making your enquiries we recommend that you obtain the publication DSA Official Guide to Learning to Drive which will provide you with a wealth of information about the steps you need to take about applying for your provisional driving licence and the questions you need to ask of a prospective driving instructor.

To help you get started we have provided a few additional pointers to help you on your road to success.

Are they fully qualified?
Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) must pass three examinations and pay a registration fee to the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) before they can advertise themselves as an Approved Driving Instructor. In addition they must undergo periodic tests of continued fitness to teach (known as a check test) in order to remain on the DSA Register of ADIs. Every ADI is graded from 1 to 6. Grade 1 is the lowest grade and Grade 6 is the highest. Only those ADIs who are graded as a 4 and above are considered to be fit to teach. Therefore, you should consider the grade of your instructor before parting with any money!

An ADI MUST, by law, display their green octagon-shaped licence in their training vehicle. You may still learn to drive with a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI), however you should be aware that they have yet to take their final assessment, which is their ability to teach. A PDI MUST display their pink triangular-shaped licence in their training vehicle. The ADI/PDI licence MUST be displayed on the bottom left hand side of the instructor’s windscreen, just by the tax disc.

Why choose a DIA member?
All DIA members have signed the DIA code of conduct. This should give you peace of mind that you are choosing an instructor who operates their business to a professional standard.
In addition to the Code of Conduct, your instructor should make you aware of their business terms and conditions. Make sure you read them thoroughly and ask any questions you may have before you sign; always ask for your own copy. Terms and conditions are important as they make clear how the business operates and what is expected of both ADI and pupil. Our Find a driving instructor only lists qualified ADIs who have signed the Code of Conduct. This facility will also help you choose an instructor with additional qualifications and specific services (automatics, teaching disabled drivers, speakers of other languages etc) to help you find value for money. Those instructors with the initials DipDI after their name denotes that they have passed the Diploma in Driving Instruction

Is the tuition car suitable for you?
A good question. You will be spending a few hours learning in it so you will need to be able to operate all of the controls with comfort and ease. Traditionally, instructors’ cars are small, but nowadays, there is quite a range to pick from. It is important you pick a vehicle that doesn’t force you to sit with your knees around your ears or at the other end of the scale, having to stretch to reach the clutch pedal properly.

Compatibility
During your initial phone call or contact with an instructor, do ask a few questions such as;

  • Do you cover my home/work/school area and what days of the week do you work? Never assume this, always ask as not all instructors work evenings and weekends.
     
  • What hours of the day do you work? Important if you want very early or late evening lesson times as not all instructors work those hours.
     
  • Can I be picked up from school and dropped off at home? If there is a fair distance between pick up and drop off points, or if the instructor’s next lesson is miles away, it could make an awkward situation later on if this is not established first, remember they are not a taxi service!
     
  • Will I be trained on a variety of road and traffic conditions? Once you have passed your test you are on your own! Make sure that your instructor is registered for Pass Plus to enable them to do this.

How much do I pay for lessons?
The average price for a driving lesson in the UK ranges from £20 - £28 depending on what part of the country you are in. Some instructors will offer block-booking discounts, and if you need to take a fair few lessons, this may work out cheaper for you and it shows your commitment to the course. Some people find it better to learn via an intensive course.

If you intend paying cash per lesson, then make sure the instructor issues you with a receipt, so both parties know what date and how much cash was handed over so there are no embarrassing discrepancies later on.

Communication
At the first meeting, establish means of communication between you and the instructor such as, phone numbers – certainly one should be a mobile for text messages, and email if possible. Think about establishing boundaries with regards to how late of an evening to call each other. Not everyone appreciates being called at midnight!

Recommended reading

DSA Official Guide to Learning to Drive
The Official Highway Code
The Official Highway Code (Northern Ireland)
The Official Highway Code (Polish)
The Official DSA Theory Test
Know Your Traffic Signs
 

Back