From the age of 16, we as students tend to draw more focus into our studies at A-Level and start to search for prospective universities. However, learning to drive is a very important life skill and is not to be cast aside. The idea of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle may be daunting for some, but all in all there’s nothing to worry about – once you get up and running, you’ll be fine. What many people are confused about is the process leading up to learning how to drive. Even if you aren’t 17 just yet, it can be helpful to know the process when it comes to learning to drive, and who you can learn to drive with.
There are many different routes you can take when it comes to where you learn how to drive. You may want to search for a local driving school or instructor, opt for an intensive driving course, or even learn with a family member or friend! Finding a way of learning to drive that suits you should be fairly straightforward, as there are many different driving instructors/schools who can be found online. It is certainly worth doing your research, though, as this person will guide you through the whole process of learning an entirely new skill!
This article is definitely worth a read if you would like to find out more about the different places that you can learn to drive, as we will go over each option in a lot more detail.
1. Find a Driving School Local to Where You Live or Work
A driving school is simply a larger organisation which consists of a number of different driving instructors. You will generally be given one instructor from this group all the way through your learning experience, but they can be a great way of coming across a good driving instructor.
Learning to drive adds into your (generally) busy schedule and it is important to make sure it is as easy and as stress-free as possible for you. This may include ensuring that your driving school it is as close as possible to your home so as to avoid extra time spent commuting in traffic, especially on a school night.
To find a driving instructor who is part of a driving school, you should start by searching for driving schools near you online and visiting each website to find one which suits you. Various websites, such as the Government website, or even Google maps are useful for finding driving schools near you and then doing your own research to see which schools would be best suited for you, taking into account prices, location and teaching style.
Another reason you may opt for a school closer to you is that it is likely it is a short distance from where you go to school and therefore can be easily integrated into your daily routine as opposed to having to travel far for a driving lesson after school.
As a student, it is understandable that you may have a set budget on your spendings if you are paying for your own driving lessons so use price comparison websites/apps to find the best ones, and definitely ask amongst friends who have already started/completed the driving course.
2. Find an Independent Driving Instructor Local to Where You Live or Work
Similar to finding a driving school, finding an independent driving instructor entails the same sort of process. Asking around will prove incredibly useful; you can find out more about the approach the instructor may have and this may help you decide which one works best for you.
If you know of many people who have been taught by the same instructor and passed the first time around, it would seem as though that they are a good teacher and therefore, you should keep them in your consideration.
Asking about the practicalities of the way that they operate is also important, for example how long do you need to confirm cancellation to be refunded for a lesson? As a student, flexibility is always important when on the hunt for a driving instructor and you don’t want to be missing out on curriculum work or any other academic events when your driving lesson could realistically be moved to a different date.
One of the most vital things when searching for an independent driving instructor (or even a driving school for that matter) is to ensure that they possess the sufficient qualifications to be teaching. This includes a PDI (a DVSA-approved Potential Driving Instructor) – the DVSA stands for the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency and is basically the agency that will carry out your driving test, or ADI (Approved Driving Instructor). These can be visible as the green hexagon or pink triangle stickers on the vehicle.
It is also important to ensure that the vehicle that you are learning to drive in is suitable, this includes: being registered with the DVLA, have up to date vehicle tax, have a current MOT certificate and also fulfil certain categories which make it safe to drive on public roads.
This means that it should have well-functioning brakes and lights, clean mirrors and windows, and the required tyre tread depending on the vehicle that you are learning in. Don’t worry too much about this as your instructor will be able to explain this to you. Generally, if you learn with an instructor, you will learn in their car, so this is not something that you need to concern yourself with. Your instructor will have the proper insurance and registrations (as well as dual controls to keep you both safe!).
3. Enrol in an Intensive Driving Course
What are intensive driving courses exactly and how do they differ from normal driving lessons? Well intensive driving courses are essentially driving ‘crash courses’ (no pun intended) which are planned to last over a short period of time, usually 1-2 weeks.
They are aimed at learners who want to complete their driving lessons quickly, so instead of having a weekly or fortnightly lesson, the driving lessons will be crammed into a week so the overall learning process spans over a much shorter period. According to the DVSA, an average of 47 lessons are required for a learner to be successful in their drivers test and therefore there has been an increase in popularity of these shorter, more intense driving courses.
An aspect of these courses which may be a deterrent is that they don’t guarantee success and this can be frustrating after investing the money in them. These courses can be more pressured and stressful due to their fast-paced nature so if that is something that you are willing to take on, then this may be one of your options.
Despite this, there are also positives which come with taking on an intensive driving course. Firstly, they allow a fast-rate of learning, especially if you have a natural aptitude for driving. They are also helpful because it means that the knowledge is fresh in your mind every lesson, compared with normal driving lessons each week.
4. Learn With a Family Member or a Friend
Learning with a family friend is exactly what it sounds like! You will need your own (or your family or friend’s) car, and it will need to be appropriately insured and registered. If you want to find out more about learner insurance, you may want to have a read of this useful article.
As you may have already heard, learning to drive with someone you know well personally may not be the best idea for everyone. It can be stressful, and you have to be very good at taking notice of instructions from your ‘teacher’ without hesitation, especially as most people do not have dual controls in their car!
Despite this, learning with a family member/friend may be more comfortable for you, as you know the person. It also may fit better with your schedule as there is no need to organise a specific time and it is more informal.
However, generally, it is a good idea to have some formal lessons before you start driving with a family member or friend. It means that you have a grasp of the basics of driving, and will be able to remain safe throughout the lessons with your family member or friend. Practicing driving with a family member is a great way to increase your experience, and make you a more confident driver for your test!