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Learning to Drive

10 Qualities to Look for in a Driving Instructor

December 27, 2023

6 min read

Sam Plant's avatar

Sam Plant

Content Writer

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When learning to drive, selecting the right instructor can be a make or break decision. This person will be guiding you through a tricky process that requires patience, determination and good communication from everyone involved. So, to be successful, you need to find the right fit.

Now, there's no need to go full-on Goldilocks here. Driving instructors are only human and, at first, no one may seem perfect for the job. What we would suggest is going into this thinking about the type of people you gel with and which learning styles work for you.

Want to make things a bit easier? Below we've listed 10 qualities that all good driving instructors should possess. Consider these points when searching for an instructor and your driving journey will be off to the best possible start!

1. DVSA stamp of approval

person with thumb up showing their approval

Straight off the bat, you want to make sure that your driving instructor is legit. They must have passed (or be at least part way through) the official instructor training programme. Don't be fooled by fraudsters posing as qualified driving instructors. The only people who can charge money to teach learner drivers are PDIs (potential driving instructors) and ADIs (approved driving instructors). The former are individuals who are part-way through their training, while the latter are fully qualified, DVSA-approved instructors. 

How do you know if someone is a PDI or ADI? They'll display either a pink triangle (PDI) or green octagon (ADI) badge on their windscreen. You can also contact the DVSA to check if a certain person is on their records. Anyone selling driving lessons without a licence to do so is acting illegally. 

You can rest assured that all of our instructors come DVSA (and PassMeFast) approved! Remember: you're paying for a solid learning experience, so make sure you're getting the real deal.

2. Experience

It goes without saying that you want an instructor who has already helped a lot of people earn their licence. This indicates that they possess all of the necessary skills and know how to work with learners who have a variety of different needs.

People who have been in the job for a long time are also likely to have a thorough understanding of local test routes and examiners. You can't beat someone who has the inside scoop! Respect their experience, utilise their knowledge and you'll be on to a winner.

All that being said, everyone has to start somewhere, so don't write PDIs or new ADIs off straight away. These individuals still have a lot to offer. All of their training will be up to date and fresh in their minds, and they're likely to be very enthusiastic!

3. Patience

stack of zen stones on seashore

When learning to drive you're unlikely to get everything (if anything!) right first time. It's really important for your progress, therefore, that you have an instructor who is understanding and patient. Someone who gets frustrated or annoyed when you don't master skills straight away is only going to knock your confidence and make things worse. 

Practice makes perfect, and a good instructor will give you enough space and encouragement to learn and grow until you are ready for the test

4. Friendship material

You don't exactly need to be best mates with your instructor, but it certainly helps if you get along! That's why it's important that whoever's teaching you is friendly and approachable. Being in a car with a person you don't know very well can feel a bit awkward at first, so you want someone who can put you at ease.

Driving instructors have to work with a wide variety of people, so they need to be socially adept and outgoing. If this isn't the first impression you get when you meet your new instructor, it's not a great sign.

Sure, you're only spending time with this person to learn a valuable skill, but never underestimate the power of small talk. Being able to chat to your instructor in a relaxed manner will reduce your nerves and enable you to enjoy your lessons.

5. A teaching style that suits you

Some people are visual learners, some people are verbal learners and some people simply like to get stuck in and learn by experience. The point is, everyone responds differently to certain teaching methods and you need to find an instructor that matches your preferred learning style.

When selecting an instructor, you're not necessarily trying to separate the bad from the good. Rather, it's about finding what works for you. An instructor that one person praises may not gel with you at all.

Think about how you take in information. Do you find a  no-nonsense, tough love teacher gets the best out of you? Or maybe a softly, softly approach is more effective.

6. Good communication skills

driving instructor and learner driver stood in a car park and chatting

Make sure your driving instructor is a great communicator, so you know exactly what you're doing and how well you're doing it. Years of experience is all well and good, but it's no use having that driving knowledge if they can't explain it in a way that you can understand.

The process of learning to drive involves trying new things, acknowledging your weaknesses and learning from mistakes. All of this is nearly impossible to achieve if your instructor cannot accurately (and kindly) describe your progress (or lack thereof!).

Especially on the occasions where feedback may be negative, your instructor needs to be able to get this across to you without being too harsh. If communication between you and your instructor is even a little off, it can leave you feeling confused and maybe even disheartened. Find someone who can walk the walk and talk the talk!

7. Someone you can count on

To do things right by the DVSA you need to be fairly organised and punctual—they have very little sympathy for lost licences or late learners. As your instructor is most likely to be the one taking you to the test centre and preparing you for the examiner, you need to make sure they are reliable.

Cancelling too many lessons or, God forbid, showing up to the test centre late, will really hamper your chances of passing. You need to be organised and on time, and so does your instructor. 

8. Cool-headed

Driving is stressful, particularly when you're a newbie. The best instructors are ready for the unexpected and won't fly off the handle when you make a mistake. Dual controls are in place so that the instructor can take over control of the car should anything go wrong. There's no reason, then, for your instructor to be anything other than cool as a cucumber.

As you may have learned from practice drives with your parents, when someone in the car is on edge, it can be very off putting for the person behind the wheel. Thankfully, the opposite is also true—if your instructor is calm and laid-back, you should feel nice and relaxed in the driver's seat. Kick any hotheads to the kerb!

9. Sense of humour

PassMeFast driving instructor, Shamsher, posing for a photo with a recently passed driver

This trait is not absolutely necessary (comedy is a gift!), but can make a big difference. If your instructor is able to see the funny side of things and crack a few jokes here and there, it should put you at ease and make your lessons more enjoyable.

Of course, you shouldn't let having a good time get in the way of actually learning the skills you need to pass the test. If earning a driving licence is your main aim, experience and a solid knowledge of the road trumps comedy gold.

Having the odd chuckle along the way, though, will reduce stress levels and lighten the mood.

Along with gut instincts and proven qualifications, a great way to get the measure of an instructor is to find out how their previous learners rate them. These days the internet acts as the fountain of all knowledge, so check out sites like Trustpilot and Facebook to get the lowdown. Or, if you'd rather go old school, ask around your local area for recommendations.

A driving instructor that comes with a range of glowing reviews is likely to possess all of the qualities listed above—and you don't just have to take their word for it!

There's no such thing as the perfect driving instructor, but you can't go far wrong if you look out for the 10 qualities we've listed above. This person is going to be integral to the success of your driving journey, so put some thought into your decision.

It's also important to resist being tempted by cheap rates and empty promises. Plumping for the best price (rather than the best person for the job) could end up costing you more money in the long run. After all, a sub-par instructor can only provide sub-par teaching!

With PassMeFast, you can rest assured that every instructor in our fleet has been fully vetted by our experienced team. No need to search for the important qualities yourself because we've done it for you!

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