Choosing a Driving Instructor for your young driver

You teach your children plenty of vital life-skills, using a spoon and tying their shoelaces among them, but when it comes to learning to drive, friends and families may not necessarily be the best choice.

That’s because learning to drive is not just about working about how to pass a test, it’s about learning defensive driving skills that will teach them how to keep safe over a lifetime on the road. As with many other skills, just being able to do something doesn’t automatically make you qualified to teach someone else to do it. A good driving instructor will be qualified and experienced, and able to work with a wide range of personalities and learning styles.

Finding the right driving instructor involves more than googling ‘driving school near me’ and hoping for the best. It requires asking lots of questions, potentially a trial lesson to see if you’re a good match, and letting an instructor know if your teen has any learning quirks or issues that may require a certain approach.

Personal recommendations are always a good place to start. Talk to friends and people in your community to discover who they’ve had lessons from, and how they found them.

Once you’ve made a shortlist, find out as much as you can about the driving school and your instructor. Ask; how long they been teaching, what qualifications they have, and whether they can provide testimonials from other students.
Find out about the car they’ll be using too. Consider whether your teen wants to learn in a manual or an automatic, and it’s reassuring for a learner car to have dual controls so the instructor can take immediate action if required.

Bearing in mind that patience and good communication is key to any relationship between a driving instructor and student, answers to your queries should be readily available and taken seriously.  Some instructors will let you tag along for the first lesson.

While everyone learns at different rates, it’s worth getting an idea of the average number of lessons that are generally needed, how many you need to book for at once, what they’ll be covering, and what progress they can expect to make along the way.

It’s good to have an understanding of what will be covered in each lesson, because while your teen may be having lessons from a professional, it’s likely they’ll be spending a bit of time behind the wheel with you parents or another licensed driver. If you know what’s being covered, you can hone up on your own skills in that area, and help them with your practice.

In many jurisdictions, learner’s have to complete a number of hours behind the wheel in a variety of conditions before they can sit their test.  Talk to potential instructors about the best plan for supplementing professional lessons – they may suggest a couple of lessons in the beginning, some in the middle and more at the end of the logbook process.

When you’re supervising practice sessions, make sure you’re giving your child experience in a variety of conditions from day to night, sunny to raining, city traffic, freeways and country roads.  Remember, you don’t want their first experience in difficult situations to be after they have their license and they’re on their own.


Takeaway tips

  • Learning to drive is about more than learning enough to pass your test, it’s about gaining the skills to be a defensive driver.
  • It’s important to be able to communicate freely with your driving instructor and make sure their teaching style and your learning style are compatible.
  • Personal recommendations are a great place to start your search.
  • Your child’s driving instructure needs to take the role of a coach, helping them reach their potential and achieve their ultimate goal of being a safe and skilful driver.