/ 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.

Momentum says:
28 February 2011

Luckily instructors must display the badge so at least you have a way of knowing whether they are a fully qualified instructor or a PDI. What’s more worrying is people trying to charge for teaching people to drive that aren’t even driving instructors. Both illegal and possibly dangerous too.

James White says:
24 February 2012

I agree that it is possible to learn to drive with the help of a friend or family member who are not fully qualified driving instructors. I also think there is some misconception about the trainee licence holders. I have recently qualified as an ADI who trained whist working as a PDI. As a PDI I was trained in the latest training tecniques. As a PDI I had to go throught 40 hours of training in the core compentencies before I was allowed to apply for the tranee licence with a further 20 hours training whithin the first 12 weeks. I was able to put 11 pupils through their test with 8 of them passing first time. The rest passed second time. To say that any licence holder can put someone though their test without being able to identify and analize the faulst is nonsence. The only way to be sure of being ready for the real world of driving is through a qualified ADI or PDI.

I disagree –

It is the quality of the driving instructor – not their qualifications that matter.

I was taught to drive by a friend – Their “qualifications”? a driving license. The result? I passed first time with ease. – It certainly is NOT illegal to teach someone else to drive if you do not have a formal driving instructors qualification. Nor is it any more dangerous – Unless the driving instructor has claimed they have qualifications (and do not) and charge you for the service – Then it is FRAUD.

I taught dozens of youths to drive under an RAC/ACU system many years ago – My qualifications? A driving license. The majority passed first time – and the ones that failed were the type that would fail first time anyway – being too nervous and basically incompetent – Even these passed eventually.

It is the responsibility of the Driving Examiner to ensure the person being tested is competent.

After all it is possible to learn to drive properly and pass the test first time without the aid of any Instructor. You need a piece of land and the Highway Code.

Richard the precise wording is
Its illegal to charge or get a reward for teaching driving if not qualified
Anyone can give tuition if they are 21 and held a licence for 3 years or more


Type your post code, and the site will return the qualified driving instructors close to your post code

Mel Willis says:
12 March 2011

you will need a large piece of land to teach dual carridgeway driving !! – also, as a general comment to this subject, people need to also be aware driving instructors are also graded up to the highest level of 6

Mel – Nonsense – the piece of land does not have to be a full scale model of anything – it simply needs to offer the facility to indicate the conditions – That includes a length of ordinary road or a field…

Not to mention I actually said “After all it is possible to learn to drive properly and pass the test first time without the aid of any Instructor” Instructors are not actually necessary to pass the test.

Given the choice between a free good unqualified instructor or a mediocre paid instructor – I’d opt for the free good one every time.

An instructor does not have to have passed any driving qualification – except have a full driving licence for three years – to actually be an excellent driving instructor.

Antony says:
25 July 2016

I’m currently in training to become an Approved Driving Instructor and whilst what you are saying is strictly true your attitude is somewhat flippant, if I may say so, given the requirements to pass the test are becoming ever more stringent and change constantly. I would urge caution by suggesting it is possible to learn drive to test standard on a plot of land. While you may certainly teach someone the basics and that may have worked well even 15 years ago nowadays certain test requirements and experiences cannot be replicated on a plot of land IMO.

Sophie Gilbert says:
3 March 2011

I agree with Dan, I would like to know, and I’d like to be given the option to pay less if the driving instructor isn’t qualified yet. Just like the nurses they need the experience, and I would imagine they would try to be as good as they can in order to get fully qualified, sooner or later.

I also agree with Richard that learning with a good experienced driver can work very well too. The only problem then is finding them if you don’t know them already.

Neilonsea says:
5 March 2011

Richard’s 3rd paragraph sums up why he’s not quite right. He says he taught dozens of youths ‘many years ago’ and thereby lies the problem. The driving test has (rightfully) evolved over the years, and has got much harder to pass. Friends or relatives, though well intentioned, will not necessarily be up to speed with recent developments (such as independent driving), and may well pass on bad habits to the learner.

I am all for getting as much private practice as possible, but these days professional tuition (with a good instructor – I appreciate there are too many indifferent ones out there), is almost a must.

Neilonsea – Sadly – I have taught driving for free – effectively continuously since 1947 – The dozens “many years ago” I mentioned was a direct result of running a motorcycle and car maintenance course for Senior Scouts for several years – I included driving instruction as a necessary part of the course. Since that time I have taught successfully the children and grandchildren of those Senior Scouts plus others.

I was a teacher by profession and found that a good teacher is a good teacher virtually irrespective of subject. Subjects I’ve taught ranged from Mother Care – Greek – Latin – Maths – Electronics – Woodwork – Metalwork – Tech Drawing – All Sciences and photography to Survival and Camping – all with good pass rates. And like any good teacher do keep up with developments.

I’m sorry – professional tuition is not almost a must – but good instruction is. The reason I’ve continued to teach driving occasionally is simply because I’ve been asked to – by friends and relatives of my “original” .groups of Senior Scouts.

Frankly from what I’ve read on other conversations too many present day drivers are either badly taught or incompetent anyway.- ignoring speed limits – traffic lights and mini roundabouts. All were able to pass a test..

Andy says:
5 March 2011

I have been an ADI 8 years and whilst I had a good pass rate rate from my trainee days, I know the way I teach now and the accuracy and quality of my training has improved no end since then. Some trainees are doubtless very good but clients also need to be aware that 2 out 3 trainees don’t actually qualify – so what about the lessons from those? How good were they? The system isn’t fair to the public and needs to be more accountable. The solution – every trainee given lesson is supervised by a qualified instructors. Just like in other industries.

BobHW says:
5 March 2011

Andy mentioned “clients also need to be aware that 2 out 3 trainees don’t actually qualify”. Unfortunately, it’s worse than that. It’s 9 out of every 100! Less than 10%! The Driving Standards Agency recently published Pass Rates for Approved Driving Instructors from 2009 to 2010. These were: ADI Part 1 – Test of Theory Knowlege: 50%, ADI Part 2 – Test of Driving Ability: 52%, ADI Part 3 – Test of Instructional Ability: 34%. I reckon that means for every 100 people who set out to take the ADI Part 1, only 50 eventually passed. Of these 50 people, only 26 went on to pass the ADI Part 2. That leaves 26 people of whom only 9 subsequently passed the ADI Part 3 and qualified as Approved Driving Instructors. That’s a paltry 9 out of every 100 who set out to qualify as an ADI! Many of the 91 people who didn’t qualify will have given driving lessons on a Trainee Licence for up to 6 months! Buyer beware! Look for that Green Certificate (fully qualified ADI) in the windscreen. Source: ADI14 published online 14 Jan 2011 by DSA. http://www.direct.gov.uk

MikeW says:
5 March 2011

BobHW – the pink “trainee” licence is only issued to those who pass Part 2, so Andy is correct – since 34% pass Part 3 the failure rate for trainees is 2 out of 3.

I’ve been an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) for 2 years. When I was training I didn’t go a pink licence. I taught family friends for free to get experience – I told them I was training but since they weren’t paying a penny for their lessons (you can’t even accept payment for petrol unless you have a pink or green licence) they were happy with the arrangement. Personally I would not have felt right charging for lessons while I was learning myself – which is why I didn’t go for the pink licence.

The way some large driving schools use trainees is certainly questionable – I would certainly want to know if my son was being taught by a trainee and have the option to change or get the options at a cheaper rate.

Alan says:
8 March 2011

That’s all well and good about PDI’s. Now what about ADI’s? They all sit the same qualifying exams and then have to sit and pass Check Tests during their licence life. Sadly, that is precisely where the standards end for a **** of a lot of instructors. I am totally sick at the tales I regularly get from pupild new to me who have been with other instructors and have been so badly treated. This is not isolated but happens every few weeks when a learner calls to ask about lessons, stating that such and such has happened and they cannot go back to their original instructor. They have been ripped off by late arrival/early drop-off, they have been yelled at and reduced to tears by a bad tempered instructor, most disturbing are those who have been assaulted in the instructors car. I have had many learners, completely independant of each other who have suffered physical assault from one local instructor. I always encourage them to report, but they believe that they will not be believed. I have even said that perhaps this instructors assault will get worse and maybe even lead to rape. Still, they don’t report him. Now, the DSA won;t do anything either. I spoke to them. I was told that the sufferer must be the one to raise their concerns. But they won’t, so we have (some) ADI’s going about their daily business and doing exactly what they want to their pupils. maybe now readers will understand my nausea – and my feeling of helplessness to offer real support to these pupils.

Mel Willis says:
12 March 2011

this is very true – I happened to pass them all 1st time 15 years ago and am now a grade 6 adi with a pass rate of over 70% – before this i also drove LGV and have been a motorcyclist from about 12 years old !!- i enjoy driving and passing on my aquired knowledge to new drivers – i have never had a “to blame” acccident – i figure this all makes me a reasonable driver.
if the instructor training establishments screened their applicants properley for suitability, the pass rate would increase – but then again maybe they would make less money ???????????????
(and more people would keep their redundency payouts and be able to put the money to better use)

BobHW says:
6 March 2011

MikeW (and Andy) – I stand corrected! Yes, only people who have passed their ADI Part 2 – Test of Driving Ability can apply for a trainee licence and give driving lessons to learner drivers. That does indeed mean that many of the two thirds who didn’t pass the final exam to qualify (ADI Part 3) may well have given driving lessons to unsuspecting members of the public. Nevertheless, I still find it surprising that only that only 9 out of every 100 who set out to qualify as an ADI (i.e. pass all three exams) between 2009 and 2010 – actually did so. I still reckon my arithmetic is correct here. Doesn’t that say something about the state of the Driving Instructor training industry?

Lee Knowles says:
7 March 2011

Just going back to some of these comments I feel obliged to write.Andy the pink licence was given to you after passing both parts 1 and 2 of the test and you had completed at least 40 hrs training (probably not enough to pass the test). The pink obviously helped you because you say you have improved. Would you have been a better instructor after passing the part 3 without being on a pink?

Richard also stated many passed 1st time but those that failed would have done anyway because they were incompetent. This is down to the teaching then isnt it? I would never let one of my learners go to test that wasn’t ready.

As with the instructor training industry in a state I agree with BobHW to a certain extent it is too many of the larger organisations push through instructors on a pink when they are not ready and dont check up on them.

The pink licence can be a useful teaching aid I for one went on a pink for 6 weeks and passed my pt3 first time. A really testing learner helped me gain confidence and ability to take the test but….. I feel I had had enough training and worked really hard at what I did. I have been an instructor for 4 years and now gained my grade 6 fleet. I think some instructors who have been working for a number of years and never progessed passed that grade 4 are sometimes worse than a trainee who has worked hard and got the feel for the job.

BobHW says:
7 March 2011

Hello Lee, thanks for your contribution to this chat about trainee driving instructors teaching learner drivers. I haven’t mentioned it until now, but I’m currently a Grade 5 ADI with The AA driving school where I have been for 8 years. I passed all three exams on first attempt, but this was little thanks to another driving school (not The AA) to whom I paid more than £3000 back in 2001. I was so dismayed by the absolutely mediocre training I received, that on qualifying, I left immediately for The AA driving school. Like you, I taught on a trainee licence initially and very much agree with your comment that “some instructors who have been working for a number of years … are sometimes worse than a trainee who has worked hard and got the feel for the job.”

2010 lists how many instructors there are

Derwent says:
9 March 2011

BobHW The fact that only 9% of applicants pass part 3 is more of a reflection on the quality of applicants than the state of the industry. Many of the training organisations imply that anyone with a licence can teach, fortunately the DSA weed out many who cannot. Far to many have come to me thinking they can get on the register in two or thee weeks, no effort required and that the job is just a case of sitting in a car being driven around town all day.As a grade 5 you know that is not what we do at all.

Is Your Driving Instructor Fully Qualified Or A Trainee?
ADI or PDI…what’s the difference in the two types of driving instructor and what do you get for your money?

Driving instructors must pass a difficult three-part examination to fully qualify as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), and they have to maintain the high standards required by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) by passing periodic tests.

Fully qualified instructors are called Approved Driving Instructors (ADI’s) and have a GREEN badge

Trainee driving instructors are called Potential Driving Instructors (PDI’s) and have a PINK badge

Certain driving schools, including some of the larger national ones such as BSM, LDC, Drive Dynamics, Kan Kan, RED and Bill Plant will have a percentage of trainee’s working for them. So when phoning around it can be worth asking if your driving instructor will be a PDI or an ADI just so you know where you stand.

A PDI can apply for a short-term licence to give driving tuition in exchange for payment after they have passed the second part of the three qualifying exams. This licence is only granted for a six month period (but in some special circumstances can occasionally be extended for a longer time period by the DSA). So as you can see, they cannot teach as a PDI for very long.

It is important to note that a PDI has not yet passed the third exam which is a test of their instructional ability. The only exams they have passed are driving theory and an advanced driving test…so they have proved they can drive and know the rules and regulations…but are they any good at teaching?

Pass rates for july/aug/sept 2010

adi part one 45%
adi part two 55%
adi part three 35%

Number of ADI`s on the register as of November 2010 total 46971
grade six 2745
grade 5 13970
grade 4 21875

please note the grading is determined by Driving standards examiners who assess the instructors approx every 4 years, cost to renew licence is £300 per four year period.

Sammypdi1 says:
10 July 2011

I am a pdi just about to sit my part 2 and i cannot stress enough how hard these exams are so the comments that richard has made really makes me laugh i mean did he really teach his pupils mspsl routine correctly infact does he even know what it is? id guess that richard is very much a shot of a car type of guy. what i mean by that is his instruction will not be structured and i would be very suprised if he would teach to the same standard as a adi or even a good pdi. i am currently training with one of the highest qualified instructors in scotland a grade 6 adi grade 6 fleet and also an ordit registered trainer so i can tell everyone to pass my part 2 i will have display expert handiling of the controls and great forward planning, and sound knowledge of the rules of the road and much more which infact means to get a pink i must know something does it not.

Also there are many training companys out there that only teach psts and even if they pass them they dont have a clue how to instruct fortunitly my trainer barley looks at psts and concentrates more on how to instruct, core comps etc. so depending on the trainer the trainee could be head and shoulders above many adis who are fully qualified.


As I stated – my “pupils” passed – I did not charge them anything – it was a service I did and would still do if asked.- It started because of the complaints about the appalling quality of the instructors.available.

May I point out that many people pass the test without any form of professional instruction and many people fail with professional instruction – so in any case it can’t be that difficult

As I said at the beginning – it is all to do with the quality of the instructor – not his/her qualifications. Many people are good at instruction without formal qualification.

Sammypdi1 says:
14 July 2011

Hi everyone, i just thought id let you all know that i passed my adi part 2 incase anyone is wondering.


Sammypdi1 says:
8 September 2011

There are alot of instructors out there who simply cannot do the job, as the standard of an instructor today is much higher than it was in the 80s. So its a shame that these guys sadly dont have a clue, the driving test itself has become much harder to pass than it ever was with independant driving now and also a much stricter test. But in conjunction with richards comment being an instructor cant be that hard. Its extremely hard you may have been lucky with the pupils you got and the may have been quick learners, but if you are faced with a learner driving down a mountain and picking up speed rapid and you have to control them to make a turn safely etc i doubt you would be equipped to deal with that and that is the type of things the examiner does on a adi part 3 exam. thats why the pass rate is so low. But if you take quality training you can deal with any situation.


Hi, i am just about to start on my trainee license and i am disgusted with some of the comments i have read, i have taken 40 hours of training to prepare me for this and my instructor would not have agreed if he didnt feel i could do it. Who says an unqualified instructor is not as good as a qualified one? its just a piece of paper at the end of the day. We all have to start out somewhere and there are trainees in hundruds of other jobs too, not just this one.

james adi says:
13 November 2011

Gary lets see if and when you pass your part 3 ,then im sure like me you will know its not just a piece of paper ,no pdi can say they are as good as an adi until they have passed all the exams,thats like saying you suck eggs better than your gran have respect as already stated the majority of pdi’s fail part 3.i have been an adi for 8 years and have had 2 check tests , i am graded a 5 though i still strive for a 6 .it all depends on the instructor sure some go through the motions and dont deserve to be on the register but still they passed at some stage and are check tested,the poor are weeded out eventually.

Sandra says:
15 February 2012

I too started out as a PDI and like you thought, it’s just a piece of paper. Now 9 years later I realise how there is absolutely no substitute for experience. I’m also now a grade 5 instructor. I’d love to see the unqualified gentleman teach some of my pupils without dual controls! You can be the best teacher in the world but you need to be an experienced ADI to deal with some pupils who find learning to control a vehicle extremely difficult and skills I’ve taken years to learn are needed in certain cases particularly if the pupil has learning difficulties.

Sorry Sandra

I am an unqualified driving instructor (but I don’t charge) – all the people whom I instructed passed – this included women.just a couple of years ago. I am a professional teacher who actually taught at a school for physically and mentally handicapped children for years (Richard Cloudsley School) (I taught physically handicapped boys to operate lathes for metalwork – requires as good a control as driving a car)- Also taught “difficult” children for over 40 years., This included overcoming motor skill deficits. Plus the driver instructing as I described since 1947.

As I said I have known qualified driver instructors that are useless at imparting skills after years of instructing.- in fact the women I taught asked me to teach them after they experienced such poor instruction..

As I said at the beginning a good driver instructor does not need a qualification – but they do need need to be able to instruct effectively. Teaching in a field means dual controls are not necessary – basically because I’d never take them into traffic unless I was confident they would be able to cope. and I am an expert at assessing motor (movement) skills

yourdrive@latiture.com says:
11 April 2017

If you are not charging, what insurance do u have. If you are teaching family and friends is the insurance company aware you are letting unqualified people drive your car.

Sandra says:
17 February 2012

Richard, I truly feel you have no idea what you are talking about and im almost amused. Tell me what would you do if after 12 hours of instruction you are out, with what you have seen to be a competent pupil, who out of the blue brakes at speed by mistake with his left foot? What do you do when someone panics when they can’t find 5th on a dual carriageway and desperately tries to select what is in fact reverse? You saying you teach in a field until they are ready for traffic is like putting someone on a beach donkey until they seem to master it and then expecting them to ride in the Grand National. Say or do as you will, I shan’t read your response and I’m finished with this debate, because I don’t believe you know the first thing about teaching someone to drive safely on the ROAD.