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I Don’t Like My Driving Instructor—Help!

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We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: a good driving instructor is key to ensuring that you are able to pass that test and earn your very own licence. This is why PassMeFast only works with the best! Not only do instructors provide you with the skills you need, they also instil in you that confidence behind the wheel that should stay with you for the rest of your life.

With this in mind, there is nothing worse than realising that you don’t like your driving instructor. Along with the important role they play, this is someone that you will have to spend a lot of one-on-one time with in close quarters. Talk about uncomfortable! So, what are you to do if you find yourself with an irritating instructor or an ADI that you’d rather AD-pie? We’re about to fill you in!

Come along for the ride as we delve into the most common issues learners have with instructors and the steps you can take to nip this problem in the bud or avoid it altogether. Let’s get started!

What’s the problem?

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Before we can advise the best possible solution to your problem, you need to hone in on exactly what it is that you don’t like about your driving instructor. After all, different issues require different solutions. There are obviously a wide variety of reasons a learner might not like their instructor, so we’re just going to cover some of the most common ones…

You feel like you’re not making progress

Many learners kick off their driving journey with a vague idea of when they think they will be ready to take the practical test. This time-frame will vary dramatically depending on whether you decide to take an intensive course, or stick to traditional weekly lessons. Whichever you go for, you need to be realistic. Learning to drive requires a lot of time and commitment. Sure, you’re eager to become qualified, but at the end of the day, your instructor is the one who will be able to tell you when you’re test-ready.

That being said, some learners find that they rack up hours of tuition without feeling like they’re really getting anywhere. This could be down to communication issues with the instructor. Does your instructor end each lesson with a brief rundown of how your progress is going and what you need to work on? If not, this could be a bit of a red flag.

A common rumour that circulates around learners is that some instructors may make you take more lessons than you need so that they can reap the financial benefits. While there are bad apples in every occupation, this is very unlikely to be the case with your instructor. Remember, pass rates and customer reviews are some of the biggest selling points that driving instructors rely on, so hampering your progress for the sake of an extra few quid really isn’t worth it to them in the long run.

Your personalities don’t gel

While you don’t need to be best friends with your driving instructor (in fact, that would be a little weird!) the whole process will be a lot more enjoyable if you are able to get along. A bit of light chit-chat here and there can really calm your nerves and help to build a relationship of trust. We all know, however, that not everyone mixes well together. Sometimes you might find that you and your instructor are like chalk and cheese—no one has done anything wrong, but you just can’t seem to hit it off.

A more problematic scenario arises if you don’t like your instructor’s teaching style. People learn in a variety of ways, so it’s inevitable that what works for one learner may not work for another. If you benefit from a kind approach that involves lots of support and encouragement, for example, you might find it jarring or even upsetting if your instructor gives you the tough love treatment.

Their behaviour is unprofessional

Before getting the DVSA stamp of approval, driving instructors have to undergo rigorous testing and background checks to ensure they are fit for the job. Sadly, not all ADIs keep up these high standards once they qualify. Driving lessons don’t come cheap, so if your instructor is repeatedly late, rude or distracted, it’s understandable that you’ll want to cut ties with them.

Again, though there are undoubtedly cases where this behaviour is evident, it remains fairly rare. The DVSA keeps a close eye on instructors at all stages of qualification. In fact, every instructor is required by law to undergo a full standards check every 4 years.

Do they make you feel uncomfortable?

If your driving instructor says or does anything inappropriate that makes you feel uncomfortable, this is very serious. After all, instructors are in a position of trust which they should not abuse. As a learner, you do not have to put up with any behaviour that is sexual, violent or offensive in nature. The DVSA takes such incidents very seriously and instructors who cross the line are putting their job at risk.

Next steps… 

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Image source: Jake Hills

Now that we’ve covered the most common culprits at the centre of bad learner-instructor relationships, let’s explore how you should go about dealing with them.

Crossed the line?

If your instructor’s behaviour is completely unacceptable and causing you a great deal of stress, take yourself out of the situation. In other words, do not continue taking lessons with them. If the instructor in question works independently, you should contact the DVSA and report them. Notifying an authority will hopefully prevent other learners having to go through the same thing and should help you get back any money you are owed.

On the other hand, if your instructor works for a driving school of some kind, you should immediately report their behaviour to the company. If for any reason you feel like they are not dealing with the problem sufficiently, you are well within your rights to then take it up with the DVSA. In cases where the behaviour of the instructor crosses the line (e.g., if they are sexually inappropriate) you can even consider contacting the police.

They’re only human

Now back to the lighter issues. If you’re finding that you and your instructor just don’t gel, but you can’t but your finger on exactly why, we urge you to give them a chance. Everybody has off days, after all, so maybe you guys just got off to a bad start. To be honest, even if your issue with your instructor is clear and it’s to do with their personality, it might still be worth hanging on in there.

Being a driving instructor is quite a stressful job, so these people can’t be all sunshine and roses 24/7. Plus, you have to keep in mind that this is a professional relationship. Their aim is to help you pass your driving test, and they don’t necessarily have to have great banter with you to achieve that. If you take an intensive course, this person may only be in your life for a couple of weeks! Chances are you can put up with them for that long.

It’s not you, it’s me

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What if the issues with your driving instructor aren’t entirely their fault? This might be a bit of a hard one to stomach, but it’s important to honestly ask yourself if you could be part of the problem. Sure, you’re paying them for their time, but you still need to be courteous and respectful. Maybe you were having a bad day and took it out on them, or judged them too quickly based on negative past experiences. If you think this could be the case, raise it with them in person and ask for a fresh start.

You also need to consider the fact that you are not your instructor’s only student. If you cancel a lesson at the last minute or show up late, they won’t necessarily be able to make up the time with you. That means a loss of earnings for them and a delay on you achieving test-ready standard. As much as we’d like to think it sometimes, the world doesn’t revolve around us. So, make sure you treat your instructor as well as you expect them to treat you—this is a two-way street people!

Time for a change?

No matter how hard we try, sometimes you just know when something isn’t right. If you don’t like your driving instructor to the point where it is affecting your progress or livelihood, it’s probably a good idea to make a change. Perhaps you’d work better with a female instructor (or vice versa). Other learners find that they start off driving a manual car but would much prefer to take lessons in an automatic. Whether it’s a demographic, car or teaching style change, it makes sense to try something new after parting ways with a previous instructor.

Things to consider before making the switch

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Though it might seem simple on the surface, changing driving instructors is quite a big step. Before taking the plunge, make sure you’re aware of the potential downsides.

Timing

Driving instructors are busy people, so if you decide to move onto someone new, you have to prepare to fit into a completely different schedule. Got used to taking lessons on a Saturday afternoon? Your new instructor might not even work weekends. Prefer to drive first thing in the morning before work? Oh no, another student has already nabbed all of those spots. As long as you’re willing to be flexible, this shouldn’t be much of an issue, but it’s definitely something to be prepared for.

You may also need to wave goodbye to an existing test appointment. Yep, cutting ties with an instructor when you’re already well into your course can wreak havoc on your progress. Your new instructor might not be available to take you to the test centre on the day you have booked.

There could also be a delay in you starting with a new instructor while they clear their diary. To avoid this happening it’s worth beginning the search for a new instructor while you’re still working with your old one. Kinda shady? Yes—but sometimes necessary!

Getting used to a new car

It’s not just your instructor that will change, the car you’re practising in will probably be different too. While this is good in the long term, in the sense that it’s useful for you to build up experience driving different vehicles, it can add even more time on to the learning process.

You’d be surprised how different it feels to drive a car that isn’t a model you’re used to. If you’re about to strut your stuff in front of a DVSA examiner, you also need to know where all of the different controls are (and how to operate them) like the back of your hand. So, factor in some extra time to achieve this.

I don’t like my driving instructor: The verdict

Pass and fail practical test - PassMeFast characters

The best way to avoid finding yourself in the situation of disliking your driving instructor is to choose wisely from the start. Picking a driving instructor is a big decision that requires some serious thought and research. (Of course, if you decide to go with PassMeFast, our experienced team have done all of the vetting for you, so you can rest assured you’ll be in safe hands!) Think about what you like in a teacher and don’t be afraid to channel your inner Goldilocks.

Once you’ve secured an instructor and started paying for lessons, it’s in your best interest to stick with them where possible. If your issues are fairly minor, it’s worth persevering and ensuring that you’re going into the learning process with a positive attitude. Then again, if your instructor’s behaviour is inappropriate, you should not feel pressured to continue with them. Report any abuse of trust and switch to a new instructor.

Whether your experience with an instructor was good, bad or ugly, you should let others know! In an industry like ours, customer reviews are an incredibly valuable source for learners and ADIs alike. If you didn’t like your instructor, try to avoid including swear words or exaggerated claims in your feedback—it doesn’t reflect well on anyone and may undermine your valid points. On the other hand, if your instructor was great, shout it from the rooftops! It’s important to reward good work and it will help others who may be on the lookout for a new instructor…

By Isobel Robb

Isobel enjoys the freedom of the open road and loves driving to new places. She's here to offer helpful hints and tips to improve your motoring skills. When not keeping up to date with the latest driving info you can find her discovering new restaurants or exhausting her Netflix subscription.

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