A simples guide

Choosing a driving instructor

Learning to drive is expensive and can be time consuming so finding the right driving instructor is vital – plus, let’s not forget you’ll be spending lots of time with them in a small, metal box so you’ll at least have to get along. But it can be tricky, should you pay for lessons or get friends or relatives to teach you? Here’s what you need to know.

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Who can teach me to drive?

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.

Anyone over 21 who has held a full driving licence for 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.

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 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 also undergone a criminal record check.

Is it better to choose an instructor or a friend or relative to help me drive?

That choice is up to you, but an instructor will have been trained and qualified to teach you to drive. They’ll also have the necessary insurance to cover you whilst you learn and in most cases, their car will have duel control (you know, just to be on the safe side).

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 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 driver’s’ from Gov.uk.

On average it takes 45 lessons and around 22 hours of extra practise to pass your test so grab any opportunities you can to get out onto the roads with friends or relatives in addition to your lessons. 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?

Let’s be frank - you’ll need to at least be able to tolerate the person who’s teaching you to drive. If you don’t, you might find it difficult to take instruction from them – which is why you’ve employed them afterall.

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 and in a clean and properly maintained car; they should also have some sort of lesson plan in mind rather than winging it each week. 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.

Car and car key

Should I think about a driving school or instructor’s pass rate?

You can think about it but whether it will tell you anything meaningful is another matter. 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. If you really want to know, then 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 that’s paying them so you need to be comfortable with your progress and the teaching.


Whether you’re learning to drive in a friend or relative’s car, or have just passed your test (good job) you’ll need car insurance. Like a good instructor, your insurance should be about what’s suits you, so use our car insurance comparison service to make sure you compare your options and find the right deal for you.

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