/ Motoring

Would you pay an unqualified driving instructor?

The blind leading the blind is probably not the most appropriate metaphor to use when talking about driving lessons. But let’s face it, you’d want to taught by a qualified instructor not a trainee, right?

Ever looked at your driving instructor’s windscreen? I mean, really looked, and not just for squashed bugs. I’m thinking about the little badge they have to display.

If your instructor’s badge is green, they are fully qualified; if it’s pink, they’re not. This means that you, or your son or daughter, could be taught by a trainee.

While this might be no bad thing – especially if the trainee is just weeks away from getting their green card – it could be a very different experience if they are still some way off completing their training. Either way, I’d like to know.

Are you being taken for a ride?

I’d expect the status of the person teaching me to let me know if they still have some way to travel down the training route, or whether they’ve already arrived.

I can appreciate that an instructor needs to get on the job training, just like a nurse does when you’re donating blood. The difference is that at least the nurse will tell you that they’re still learning, so you have the chance to opt for a fully qualified colleague.

Green or pink badge

With driving lessons, I’d want to know up-front that the person whose job is to ensure I am adequately trained is proficient. If they’re not, I’d like the option of switching to a fully qualified instructor (or at least get a discount).

After all, learning to drive is harrowing enough. The last thing an inexperienced driver needs to worry about is whether their instructor is up to scratch.

Annie says:
14 December 2012

There are no doubt good non ADIs teaching people to drive and the are also a lot of ADIs that are of a very poor standard. I read some websites with total disbelief, that that is actually what the new generation of drivers is being taught. For example one website talked about making sure you could do the manoeuvres without any “minor” faults so that you had 15 left to go for the test. A scrape through attitude which frankly I found dreadful for any professional to hold.
In lots of ways passing the test is the least of the pupils worries. What is far more important is the time after the test when they are on their own. I do not teach people to pass a test I teach them to drive. Something totally different in my opinion. I want to do my upmost to make sure they don’t become another statistic.
Whilst there are very good PDIs who are using the licence to get onroad experience. There are a lot who see it as a way of getting back the money they have spent on training before they take their part 3. So they aren’t all that worried about the standard. I was on a pink licence for about 2 months before my part three and found it very helpful. I was totally honest with all my pupils and asked them for feedback on lessons to help me improve. I do know that there are ways to extend the 6 months too. If you book your part three on say 20th May and your PDI licence expired on the 20 March you can continue teaching. This is used by some of the less scrupulous companies to keep the trainees on for longer. They really don’t care if they pass there are 20 more willing to take their place.

Ashley Neal says:
24 June 2014

No way would I pay an unqualified driving instructor! There should be a law against impersonating a driving instructor. It’s putting lives at risk!


in 2011 nielonsea stated he had been teaching since 1947 some 67 years ago, you have to be 21 to teach a legal requirement so 21 + 67 so a 88 years old instructor or a pdi?
I can remember the 50,s when as a kid we used to go number plate spotting as there was so few cars on road and cars were not for the working man was the bus bike or a moped
I am a trainee instructor spent many £1000,s reckon will have devoted 300 hours to study plus intense in car tuition
I also have been a member of the institute of advanced motorists for 36 years but to become an A D I the training and qualifications is way beyond the level of advanced driving but a good start even I had to go through a lot of untraining from advanced level

Malcolm says:
13 October 2020

I think there is a slight contradiction in your statement but i respect what your saying. I was awarded a ROSPA gold in my 20’s first time i took the test. I am now looking at becoming a driving instructor some 20 odd years later for the second time.
I was offered to teach from DVA due to my high level. With this in mind, i will also be having to go through part 3. Can i add, i was working as an electrician in my 20’s whereby i just didn’t have the time to learn what is potentially a difficult test and getting more difficult each year with advancements in technology and growing number of vehicles on the road. I have great respect for driving instructors. I was even told by my instructor who was teaching me form the AA that i was more qualified than them, he also stated everything i did was text book. but, after just 2 lessons into my part 3 i had to abort. I will however look to try again in the coming months. I was one of a few people who got zero minors on their part 2. So for anyone who says that they are being ripped off, think again. Yes, teaching is a very different ball game, but surely we can all learn to teach, after all i have to teach my kids to grow up too. Interesting next few months as i look forward to taking my tests again.

Neilonsea says:
23 September 2014

I’m amazed this hairy old thread has re-awoken! Just to put the record straight, Barleytony, it was not I who said I had been teaching since 1947, I was not even born then and am thankfully several years away from 88!

That statement was made by Richard, who seems to have generated most of the controversy surrounding this issue.

I’m not going to get hung up on the professional versus amateur point of view. When I first taught someone to drive and pass a test 1st time I was a 27 year old traffic police officer with no formal teaching qualifications – I just knew what made a good driver and knew damn well that my ‘pupil’, a friend of the family was better than test standard when she took it.

I also know that the vast majority of ‘ordinary’ drivers could not, nor want to, teach their offspring to drive as they treasure their sanity too much, not to mention the precious family car.

Gary s says:
8 December 2014

Driver tuition is changing, as qualified Adis (approved driving instructor) we now have to pass a new standards check every 4 years. We are then graded A (high standard) B (competent stardard). Or fail we then have 2 more tests to prove our stardard is upto scratch. Or we lose our job. The methods we now have to use are based on client centered learning (ccl). This involves the learner being more in control of the learning process. When looking for a instructor ask them to prove what grade they are, as they will be issued with a certificate after their standard check.

Kenneth says:
18 March 2015

Drive Dynamics is one driving school which lets you get your first driving license in one go. With effective training and friendly instructors it was all easy to drive.

Most of the online reviews of DD are very negative, so you seem to have been one of the lucky ones, Kenneth.

John Ballantyne says:
27 March 2015

Most PDI’s are training to pass their part 3 test therefore their teaching style may be for them to pass there test not for you to pass your test. After they are using you as their practice.

You get some good PDI’s but also bad ones who don’t have a clue what they are doing

I was a pdi with Red driving school, out of a class of 25 pdis only 4 of us went onto qualify as a ADI. I was fortunate that I had been a police officer for 25 years and this helped me with part 1 and part 2. Since leaving red I regurly see pdis teaching on the pink badge. I told my students when I was training, I think pdis should inform their students of their status. It’s very hard to qualify as a ADI

I’m a freshly qualified Instructor who has just passed my Pt3. None of my pupils had a clue was a trainee, but on the other hand knew I was quite new to the job.

Within my first 4 month I had 2 clean sheets and 3 tests under 2 minors, I’ve now just got another 2 clean sheets in my next 6 months. Ive been pulling the results in. At 22/23 and a PDI.
Instruction depends how you are with words and how you adapt yourself to your pupil to become more interesting. I passed my Pt2 with 0 Minors and all I explain is how and why I’d do something in a which is personal to them. But I suppose that isn’t all instructors.

I found I easily get pupils through a test, but the acting had me on the part 3. I’m not an actor! I couldn’t get over it (until yesterday) so some PDI’s can be very genuine.. your ADI’s know how to act (PST Robot) or they have been a PDI with a hard time..

Ferzana Ferzana says:
28 September 2017

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

I am bit concerned with your comment about trainee driving instructors ,is it not true to say that how do they become good instructors without being able to get out their and learn with proper pupils and not just books and videos ,you yourself must have done your training this way by doing your 40 hours then waiting for a test date ,how can you possibly say this is a bad thing its like any job you have to train and do some practical work as well and am sure this is how your instructors start ,but either way as long as the pupil is getting trained the paper way ,why would you even start putting people of trainee instructors ,as a trainee myself ,i hate books but show me how to d it practically and i am better and it has helped me so much and my pupils are fine i have had 4 passes in the last week alone pupils who have only just had 5 double lessons ,i couldn’t have done this without getting out their and actually doing it ,so please don’t be putting people off trainees.many thanks .jules

Well I’m going through the process now, to become an adi. Your comment are not actually correct to get your pdi you have to have done the training before hand and at the end of your training you can go straight for your adi test, however at this stage you have a choice take that newly received knowledge and apply for your test or apply for a pdi license which allows you to train pupil and gain additional training this will be done with a sponsor, so not only are they being trained by the pdi but also the sponsor (adi approved trainer). You have made out that someone could just jump in a car and say they were a pdi which is not the case. Pdi have to have past part one and two and received the training for part 3 before being allowed to train anyone. The cost of becoming a driving instructor is very expensive the corse alown will cost £2,500 to £3,000 plus the cost of car insurance, it not quite the same as mam or dad taking little joey out and hoping for the best. All pdi will have been given the training to pass and become adi. Im sure there are bad pdi out there and lot will struggle and that why they have there sponsor to help i know as a pdi or an adi I’ll be giving my students 110%. I would also say I know there also going to be the odd bad day when an adi can struggle and fingers crossed they’ll be some kind of support for them. I’m sorry but to post this and make out that pdi are unqualified it just mist leading