Learning to drive is a great investment for your future, giving you the opportunity to move around from A to B at a moment’s notice. However, if you want to learn well, and quickly, you need to find a good driving instructor – but what makes a true pro?
Probably the most important characteristic that a driving instructor must possess is patience – and plenty of it – and it may also be fair to say that alongside patience an instructor needs a little bravery too! Not all learner drivers are created equal – while some find it easy to learn to control the big chunk of metal in their hands, others may have less spatial awareness, coordination and natural flair when they first get behind the wheel.
A good instructor understands that everybody starts with a different level of ability and some need more guidance and time to develop their skills than others. While it’s not common, some learner drivers can take their instructors on something of a white-knuckle ride; cutting corners, coming close to crashing and reacting slowly to obstacles and instructions. Obviously, having an instructor howling and shouting at you every time you make a mistake or set their heart fluttering a little isn’t going to do your confidence any good, so they need to be sympathetic and easy going.
Driving instructor qualifications
Although for most people it won’t make any difference, there are some learners who may prefer to have an instructor of a specific gender. Some women may feel safer and more comfortable with another female in the car, and perhaps some men would rather not be taught such a masculine perceived skill by someone of the female persuasion!
Regardless of gender, however, the number one thing that all driving instructors must have is the correct qualification to teach; look for a green license displayed in the car’s window which shows that they’re an Approved Driving Instructor. You may also choose to learn with a trainee instructor who will display a Potential Driving Instructor sign (in pink) instead. Don’t think that just because somebody hasn’t yet passed the final qualifications that they’re not good enough to teach you – trainees will have received in-depth training to a very high standard before they’re allowed to be let loose on real learners, and they’ll be keen to get everything exactly right in order to pass their final exams – and they’ll also want to build a good reputation too.
Intensive driving courses or a regular commitment
Whether you’re taking regular, weekly lessons or prefer the idea of intensive driving courses so that you can pass quickly, your instructor should be understanding and approachable. Everybody reacts differently when they first start driving, and a good instructor will let you move forward at your own pace (in terms of learning progress, not speed!). They should listen to any concerns, answer any questions that you may have and understand the position that you’re in; after all, they were once a learner driver too, so they should be able to put themselves in your shoes, shouldn’t they?
Also, when taking learners for intensive driving courses, instructors need to be friendly and easy to get along with – there would be nothing worse than spending several hours a day in a car with somebody teaching you who’s grumpy, objectionable or difficult to talk to! Of course, there’s no accounting for dynamics and personality clashes – everybody comes across somebody that they don’t get along with once in a while, but generally speaking an instructor should be friendly and professional, allowing you to create a learning environment that suits your needs (whether that’s quiet or chatty) and be willing to help you in any way that they can.