Once you’ve applied for a provisional driving licence, it is only natural to feel a bit scared at the thought of getting behind the wheel for the first time. A good instructor will obviously be knowledgeable and experienced, but he or she will also be sympathetic and know that you are understandably nervous before your lessons begin. Your lessons will be more productive if you feel comfortable and build a good relationship with your teacher, so here are some tips on choosing the right instructor for you.

Image credit: DVSA – Crown Copyright.

Credit for all images: DVSA – Crown Copyright.

Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations.
If you have friends or family members who recently passed their tests, ask them who they learned with. They’ll be able to tell you if there was an instructor they thought was particularly good, or if they found one particularly bad. Remember that instructors must be DBS checked and undergo regular assessments to check that they are providing a high standard of teaching.

Think about what you want from your learning experience.
Before you actually get behind the wheel, there are a few things to give some thought to. For example, would you be more comfortable learning in an automatic car than a manual? Would you prefer a male or female instructor? Would you want to learn with a driving school or an individual instructor?

Ask instructors about their experience.
Check that any instructors you enquire with are approved by and registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). You should find out how long they have been teaching for, and what their pass rate is. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask them roughly how many lessons their average learner has needed before they are ready for their test.

Image credit: DVSA – Crown Copyright.

Credit for all images: DVSA – Crown Copyright.

Good instructors will teach at a pace that suits you.
An instructor should create tailored lesson plans for every student. If you’re eager to pass your test, make sure your driving instructor knows your expectations and you both agree on a realistic timescale. The lessons are designed to make you a confident and safe driver. They’ll begin with simpler tasks such as using controls and mirrors, safe positioning and signalling, before moving onto more complicated matters such as negotiating roundabouts, emergency stops, driving at appropriate speeds and parallel parking.

The cheapest instructor or driving school isn’t necessarily the best.
Price is one of many factors to look at when choosing a driving instructor. Don’t pick an instructor based on the price of individual lessons alone. If you have more lessons with a cheaper instructor, you could end up spending the same amount, if not more, than if you find another instructor who charges more per lesson, but provides less lessons overall before you are ready for your test.

Image credit: DVSA – Crown Copyright.

Credit for all images: DVSA – Crown Copyright.

Check what you get for your money and don’t ‘block book’ lessons straight away.
Some lesson costs factor in additional study aids such as DVDs or workbooks, so it is always worth asking if anything like this is included. Many driving schools and instructors will offer a discount if you book several sessions at once, and pay for them upfront. While it can save money, don’t commit until you’ve had a few lessons and know that you are happy with your instructor. You should also find out about an instructor’s policy if you need to cancel a lesson.

Find out about your instructor’s car.
A good instructor can deliver their lesson in any type of car. Ask whether you will be driving the same vehicle for each lesson, as the familiarity with the car is likely to greatly help your learning. Make sure that the instructor has a dual-control car.

Instructors should make the most of your lesson time.
Your instructor should be punctual and arrive in a clean, well-maintained car. You should have their undivided attention throughout the lesson, and they should never make you feel uncomfortable, even if something happens to go wrong.