Learning to drive is a big investment, both financially and in the hours you put in over a number of months to get test-ready.
Finding the right driving school and instructor is therefore really important to make sure you’re getting good value from your lessons and always making progress, so you pass safely in the quickest time possible.
Learning to drive is also supposed to be enjoyable, so you should never feel the old night-before-dread as lessons approach.
We’ve put together this quick guide on five top things you should be getting from your lessons, regardless of who you are learning with or where you are in the country. If you are in Norfolk or Suffolk and they sound like how you would like to learn, just get in touch.
You should be behind the wheel, not studying paper resources
There are of course times when you need to look at the theory side of driving – it can be easier to explain a manoeuvre or the correct route to take across the lanes of a roundabout when you can see it charted on paper, and you need to make sure you’re up to speed on things like the Highway Code – but learning to drive requires hands-on experience – as in hands on the steering wheel and gearstick.
From your very first lesson, you should have the opportunity to learn and practice new skills from the driving seat.
Progress reports and proper feedback
Learning to drive is a process – from the first time you get behind the wheel until you walk out of the test centre with a big grin on your face. There is of course a logical order to mastering the skills you need; you won’t be reversing around corners before you’ve learned how to find reverse gear.
Every step along the way, your instructor should be keeping a record of your progress and giving you feedback at each stage. This not only shows how far you have come, but gives you a tangible record of where you are up to and what you need to focus on next.
You should also be able to have an input on the direction your lessons take – if your instructor thinks you’ve mastered a manoeuvre but it still just doesn’t feel 100% to you, you should be able to ask for more practice on it.
Remember the end goal is not just getting through your driving test, but the life as a driver you will have on the road, without an instructor or examiner beside you. So it’s important that you finish your driving lessons feeling comfortable dealing with any scenarios that may come your way.
An honest appraisal
Your instructor should always be willing to give you an honest assessment of how things are going – in a constructive and encouraging way!
We’ve had loads of people come to How-2-Drive for lessons after bad experiences with another instructor or driving school, with one common reason being told ‘home truths’ about their driving, which did nothing but knock their confidence.
Your instructor’s honesty should also extend to when you aren’t quite ready to sit your test – putting you forward to take it before you are likely to pass is a complete waste of your time and money.
An instructor with a positive attitude
Your instructor should also instil confidence in you and offer reassurance and encouragement, rather than a stressful learning environment. Even if you take to driving like a duck to water, there will still be lessons you find more difficult than others, and your instructor should be on your side, not looking for any opportunity to knock you down.
When we’ve had pupils move over to us from other instructors, they’ve told us they’ve been shouted at, that the instructor has been more flustered and stressed than them in the car, or that they’ve just been completely disinterested, even (illegally) messing around on their phones.
Your driving lessons should be enjoyable, yes sometimes hard work, but ultimately focused on you and your needs.
We know learning to drive is a big financial commitment, when you take into account the cost of learning plus getting a car and keeping it on the road. When you’re using your hard-earned money to finance the process, it’s important to know you are getting good value.
It’s not just about getting lessons cheaper – at How-2-Drive we offer a discount when you block book lessons because we know it helps pupils commit to a long-term schedule of lessons – it’s about what you’re actually getting for your money and how you are treated.
Some of the stories we have heard of other driving schools and instructors include not getting refunds on unused lessons when you’ve passed your test, the instructor turning up late or finishing lessons early, despite taking full payment, having a set mileage limit for each lesson to save on their fuel costs, and being asked to pay up front for dozens of lessons, before you even have a chance to find out if you want to learn with them.
We don’t do any of these things at How-2-Drive, and you should always feel like you’re getting the best possible help for every pound you hand over.
We also have blog posts covering tips for passing your driving test, on avoiding common mistakes and pushing aside (most of) the nerves you have on the big day.