On this blog page I want to try and inform people who want to learn to drive about some of the things I'm asked and some may find a bit puzzling. Not just my own pupils, but anyone who is trying to get their driving licence.
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When lockdown conditions are relaxed enough to re start driving lessons, I intend to offer lessons on Saturdays to facilitate those pupils who are anxious to get on the road as soon as possible.
Please remember when booking lessons on a Saturday that they are going to be popular and will be in demand.
So, a word of advice. If you book a lesson on a Saturday, make sure you can do it. If you cancel at very short notice due to a football match, mummy taking you shopping or having a big head from Friday night, I still expect to be paid.
A question that often comes up is, "Is it better to use the instructor's car for the driving test?"
Of course it is!
You have been used to getting lessons in it and, more importantly, it has dual controls. Put yourself in the position of the examiner. He has never seen you in his life before and you could be a complete train wreck behind the wheel!
If he can stop the car he's going to be a lot more relaxed about your driving which is a very good thing on the test.
That's why I only charge £50 for the car for the driving test. It's a two hour slot and includes a warm up, the test itself and dropping off afterwards. It obviously includes car insurance for the test. No hidden extras.
Also a good question to ask if ringing around for prices.
I've been asked recently if I do a blocks of lessons for new pupils. So now I'm offering blocks of five or ten hour lessons if you are a new pupil and have never held a driving licence before.
Give me a call for details.
Still doing the first hour's lesson FREE for those who would like to try before they buy.
A driving instructor's car gets a hard life, so mine gets changed on a regular basis. This is my third Renault Clio as I find it such an easy car to teach in.
This one is the GT Line, is a bit special and has a few extra toys. Things like LED headlights, climate control, nice wheels, etc. Wait a minute, why am I letting a crowd of learners drive it!
The best extra of all is, of course, a good set of dual controls!
So, if you fancy learning to drive in my nice, shiny GT Line Clio, give me a call.
As any of my former pupils will testify, I will nag endlessly until you have passed the Theory Test. But I just want to learn how to drive! They say.
To learn how to drive a car you need to know the rules of the road. It's very simple.
I've got the app, they say. The theory app is great if you're waiting for a bus. To really learn the theory side of driving, all you need is a copy of the Highway Code.
Sure, it's old fashioned and only costs £2.50 from Halfords or a bookshop. But it works!
A word of advice though, and some of my pupils will remember me saying this, you have to actually open the book!
It's coming into the busy time of the year and I'm getting calls asking 'How much are your lessons?'
While it's important to know, don't base your choice of driving instructor on price alone.
I do, of course, understand why people ask this. How else can they decide?
Well, most instructors charge around the same for a one hour lesson. But how much for an hour and a half? Or two hours? Or the use of the car for the driving test? How many lessons will it take to pass the test? Will you even like the instructor? You're going to be spending a bit of time with them, after all!
If only you could test drive your driving instructor before committing yourself.
Wait a minute! You can!
I'll take you out for a one hour lesson for no charge. That's FREE. Nothing. Zero.
If you don't like the lesson, or the car, or me! Then walk away, no commitment.
I push hard on your lesson. It's what pupils tell me they want. No nice drives around the countryside.
So, if you're ready to get serious about learning to drive and have a provisional licence, give me a call and we'll get you booked in for your free lesson.
No text conversations, please. I don't have time. Just talk to me.
At this time of the year I always get a few enquiries from those who have to re take the driving test after being banned.
Some words of advice.
Don't assume that you'll only need an hour's lesson because you've been driving for 20-30 years. It's a totally different test, never mind all the bad habits!
Reckon on 5 or 6 hours lessons to get up to speed.
Start those lessons before you do the theory test. Then you can be ready to do the practical test as soon as you pass the theory.
Something I'm often asked is, should I get my theory test before I start driving lessons?
have had pupils who wait until they've passed the theory test first, I wouldn't recommend it.
I don't recommend ignoring it either!
Start to prepare for the theory test just before you start to take practical driving lessons. That way you'll make the connection between the two as you learn. You have to have an understanding of why you have to do certain things at certain times.
So get that Highway Code, book the theory test (takes a few weeks to get a date) and get a driving lesson booked!
I often get pupils who have been out with another instructor who tell me that their last instructor just stopped answering their text messages and they don't know why.
The answer is simple!
They have cancelled a few lessons, usually at short notice, without an apology or an offer to pay for the cancelled lesson. You have to remember that even driving instructors are only human and this is costing them money!
If you have a good reason to cancel a driving lesson, give as much notice as possible and it's always a good idea to ring them. You know, talk to them!
Say you're sorry, but you can't make the lesson for whatever reason and offer to pay for the missed lesson. He might take the money, he might not but your chances of keeping him as an instructor will be much higher. If you want his respect, you have to respect him as well.
A problem that has came up recently.
When you leave me a voicemail, please leave me a contact number!
If your call goes straight to my voicemail, it's unlikely that your number will appear on my phone. And if it's 'withheld' or 'unknown' then I've no chance.
I'm good, but even I'm not that good!
Text messaging is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't replace having a conversation.
I've been receiving a few recently on the lines of 'How much are your lessons?'
Some even expect to actually book a lesson from a few text messages!
I'm a professional driving instructor and to be able to give you the best advice I like to know what driving experience you've had?
Have you done the theory yet?
Where you live?
I don't have the time to hold long conversations by text, I'm far too busy!
But I would like to have a grown up chat on the phone about what you would like to get from your driving lessons. Give me a call and if I can't answer, leave a voicemail and I promiise I will return your call ASAP.
"Would you like your instructor to accompany you on your driving test?"
This is entirely up to you. Some prefer to go 'solo' and some like to have me in the back of the car to help their confidence.
I'm there purely as an observer and am not allowed to say anything.
I would be asked to go on more than half the tests and this is a big benefit to all of my pupils.
Why? Because I know exactly what happens and what to expect on your test.
It's not cheating and it means that there will be no suprises for you.
Think I'm one of the few in the area who does this.....
I belive that this is what gives me such a high first time pass rate.
According to the latest government figures, more people pass in Downpatick than anywhere else in Northern Ireland.
Check out the recent article that BBC NI ran about it.