Before you look for a driving instructor you’ve got to apply for your provisional driving licence. You can do this up to three months before your 17th birthday and the licence will become valid when you turn 17.
As soon as your licence is valid you can start to take driving lessons. However, you must make sure that if you go out with a parent or friend, you are insured to drive their car. Insurance covering ‘any driver’ does not include provisional licence holders. The supervising driver must be over 21 years old and have held a full licence for a minimum of three years.
Anyone who charges you for lessons must be approved and registered with the Driving Standards Agency.
Although friends and family can help you learn to drive they are not a good substitute for a professional instructor whose job is to get people through their driving test.
When looking for a driving instructor, ask the following questions:
- Who have your friends used? Were they reliable and punctual?
- Which schools do you regularly see out on the road? Busy instructors are usually good ones.
- What kind of car does the instructor have? Is it a practical vehicle for you?
- Will you have the same instructor for each lesson?
- How long are the lessons and how much are they? Remember, cheap isn’t always the best.
- Are there any discounts for block bookings?
- Do they have female driving instructors?
- Do they run a door to door service?
- Are they reliable and punctual?
- Do they give information on theory tests and Pass Plus?
- What grade is the driving instructor? Grade 6 is the highest standard but Grade 4 is a good average standard. Anything below a Grade 4 is below average standard. The green certificate fixed to the windscreen of an instructor’s car indicates that they are a fully qualified approved driving instructor.
- Do they ‘piggy back’ pupils? This is where the instructor collects one pupil whilst giving a lesson to another and the pupil that was picked up takes the first pupil home. This is not very professional.
Once you have found an instructor it is important that you take regular professional lessons which are spread over a period of weeks and months, rather than crammed into a short intensive course.