Choosing the right driving instructor

Learning to drive is expensive and can be time consuming, so finding the right driving instructor is vital - but it can be tricky. Should you pay for lessons? Or would it be better to get friends or relatives to teach you? Here's what you need to know.

Learning to drive is expensive and can be time consuming, so finding the right driving instructor is vital - but it can be tricky. Should you pay for lessons? Or would it be better to get friends or relatives to teach you? Here's what you need to know.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
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Posted 6 NOVEMBER 2019

Who can teach me to drive?

Anyone over the age of 21 who has held a full driving licence for a minimum of three years, from countries within the European Union or European Economic Area, can teach you to drive. But, only an approved driving instructor (ADI), or a trainee driving instructor, can charge you for teaching.

Before you even think about choosing your instructor, make sure you've got your provisional licence – you won't be able to learn without it.

How do I know if a professional driving instructor is any good?

Registered driving instructors will have a badge in the windscreen of their car to show they're registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). A green badge shows that they're a fully qualified driving instructor and a pink badge is for instructors who are currently in training.

Instructors are tested to ensure they meet high standards. Instructors that have been graded A or B have been shown to be good enough to teach and therefore remain on the approved driving instructors register. Anyone below standard will be removed from the list, so you can be confident that anyone on the register is considered a worthwhile teacher. It's also worth remembering that driving instructors will have undergone a criminal record check.

What are the benefits of paying a professional instructor to teach you to drive?

An instructor will have been trained and qualified to teach you to drive. They'll also already have the necessary insurance to cover you while you learn and, in most cases, their car will have duel control.

What are the benefits of letting a friend or relative teach you to drive?

The main benefit is the fact that it's free! If you decide to go with a friend or family member, you'll need to make sure their car is fit to be on the road as well as taxed and insured for you to drive. Make sure you've got 'L' plates clearly on view front and back.

If this is the route you go down, you can check you're covering the right topics to teach your child to drive with the official DSA Learning to Drive book. You can also keep track of your progress with the catchily titled 'driver's record for learner drivers' from

Choose your friend or relative carefully though – there's nothing helpful about practising your driving skills with someone who grips the seat white knuckled and closes their eyes every time you get to a junction, or has bad habits that won't help you pass your test.

What qualities should I look for in an instructor?

Like any good teacher, an instructor (or the friend or relative teaching you) will need to be patient. Your instructor should arrive for lessons on time, in a clean and properly maintained car.

They should also have some sort of lesson plan in mind. Most importantly, you should feel like your lesson time is being used well and that the focus is on teaching you how to drive – there shouldn't be any sandwich stops, loo stops or petrol stops along the way.

Let's be frank – at the very least, you'll also need to be able to tolerate the person who's teaching you to drive. If you can't, you might find it difficult to take instruction from them – which is why you've employed them, after all.

Is a driving school or instructor's pass rate important?

The driving school or instructor's pass rate isn't always everything. You'll need to be aware of the context surrounding any figures you're given.

An instructor could have a 100% pass rate, but if they've only had one student, it's kind of pointless. Similarly, if a driving school takes all its passes into consideration, its likely they'll all have pretty good pass rates. Perhaps a better question to ask might be 'how many people passed first, second or third time?'

The most important thing about your instructor and driving school is that they give you the support you need in order to learn to drive. Remember that it's you who's paying them, so you need to be comfortable with your progress and the teaching.

When will I be ready to take my test?

Regardless of who teaches you, it typically takes 40-50 lessons (costing around £24 per hour with a professional instructor) and around 22 hours of extra practise to pass your test, on average. So grab any opportunities you can to get out onto the roads with friends or relatives, in addition to your lessons, to make sure you have the highest chance of passing your test without a hitch. Statistics show that less than half of prospective drivers in the UK (47%, to be exact) actually manage to do so.

Will I need car insurance when learning to drive?

As mentioned, most professional driving instructors will already have insurance that will cover you during your lessons. If you're learning to drive in a friend or relative's car, or have just passed your test, you'll need your own car insurance (perhaps 'family' insurance might be a good idea?). Like a good instructor, your insurance should be about what works for you, so use our car insurance comparison service to make sure you compare your options and find the right deal.

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