It's true to say that in any business or profession you will find some bad apples. This is not about finding someone who is just having a bad day, but rather understanding the inside workings of the profession so you do not become a victim. There are 2 types of Driving Instructors. Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) & Potential Driving Instructors (PDI). An Adi will display and Green Badge in their vehicle and a Pdi will display a pink badge in the window of their vehicle whilst providing paid tuition. Once you have established your instructor is legally qualified to provide tuition on either of these 2 basis you are halfway there.
So how do you spot a bad apple? Try to think about other items you have bought. Maybe you felt the price was too good to be true. Did you find the persons knowledge a little limited? Were you rushed into making a decision? In my experience as a driving instructor, if someone is working illegally they will try to work very cheaply and also try to avoid a paper trial. Driving instructors that are working illegally tend not to like test centres.
This exposes them to other driving instructors and examiners. What do I mean by cheaply? Its likely an instructor who is working within certain means will avoid costs like Business Cards, or Handouts. This will also create the paper trial they don't want. It also adds to their costs. So if the lessons are cheap to begin with they will need to lower their margins and the budget will not cover this. The costs of running a driving school business are high. Recently with the Covid-19 pandemic this will add further costs to driving lessons and no doubt increase insurance premiums. If you find someone charging considerably less than the market value for driving lessons then you need to question how that is possible.
Your beginning to create a picture of the homework you need to do to keep yourself safe. Most instructors will have some form of advertising in place. Website Facebook
Try a simple exercise and you can do this with any business. Type the name, telephone number and it should bring up some sort of history. This is not fool proof, as I know many instructors are not on Social Media, but its likely even if they do not use Social Media for advertising they will have a personal account. These are not difficult to find if you are not trying to hide. Then you need to see regular updates. The content needs to be current. I get emails from companies who want to sell me SEO or Online Marketing everyday. You would be surprised though how many of these companies that want to sell me marketing but do not manage their own online social media platforms and keep them current. This is just one part of the bigger picture.
How to spot problems during driving lessons
You have found your driving instructor and decided that you want to begin driving lessons. The first thing you need to check is that they display a valid licence in the window. You can see the date from outside the vehicle and the picture from inside.
It's likely you will sit in the passenger seat to begin with so have a look at this time.
Remember the large hail and ride company that were found to have drivers who would have a friend drive the vehicle when they were not working.
The picture needs to look like the instructor! You are paying someone to provide driving lessons. Here are some of the key distraction that in some cases are illegal and in others just morally wrong.
Mobile Phones Sadly I still see this happening . If your instructor takes a phone call during a driving lesson and you are at learner stage - This is illegal. If you instructor is taking calls using hands-free this is at the very least very unprofessional. There could be some extreme cases where you just cannot avoid taking a call, but if you find this is on a regular basis then you need to consider where your instructors attention is.
We all have those days. You got held up at the tyre shop, the traffic was murder and you have not eaten since 8am and its now 3pm in the afternoon. If possible I always prefer to cancel a lesson if it means I can give a better service next time. The last thing you want though is your instructor constantly eating whilst you are driving.
Shopping I've heard lots of stories. Someone claimed their instructor did a weeks shopping on their lesson. If your instructor is abusing your time then you need to find someone else, its as simple as that.
It is illegal to smoke in a tuition vehicle as it is seen as a place of business. If this happens then you should be looking for another instructor.
Structure of lessons
Each lesson should have structured. You should not feel pressured into doing anything before you feel you are not ready to do. You should have a clear understanding of the goals for the lesson and how they are going to be achieved and when.
Driving instructors should be fit and proper. The message ' Lead by example' is very true. If you find your driving instructor constantly clashing with other drivers, it may be time to move on. Its a clear indication that lessons and routes need to be planned much better.
There should be under no circumstances any contact between instructor and students unless its in the natural process of controlling the vehicle. ie. using the dual controls. Any control taken by your instructor should be explained.
What should I do? Firstly I would address the problems you have directly. You may prefer to text/email someone your concerns. The reply will tell you a lot about the way someone is thinking. As I said earlier. Everyone has a bad day at the office, and driving instructors are no different.
They should be grateful of the feedback. Obviously if someone is doing anything illegal like talking on their mobile phone you need to decide whether you feel this is appropriate and if there is any need for a discussion. If you feel your driving instructor is acting illegally you can report them.
This blog is about being aware. Being aware and sensible in regards to the service you are asking for.
Taking driving lessons is an amazing period in your life and you deserve to be treated well. You deserve to know if you driving instructor is acting within the law. Here are some links. Its very easy to find good instructors but also not difficult to find an illegal one.