I love my job, I am proud to be a Driving Instructor. My students and I have a great time on our lessons. I get great pleasure out of passing on the skills necessary to drive and seeing my students gain confidence and knowledge with each lesson.
Having said that, there are some worrying trends in driver education in the past few years that parents and learner drivers should be aware of.
When I got my licence in Sydney 1997, I was required to pass the same practical test as a learner driver, but I was only allowed 2 mistakes (thank goodness I was well prepared, and passed 100% phew!), thus proving I was a competent driver to begin with.
Then I had 4 months of part time study (it could have been completed in 1 month of full time study), with many assessments and assignments along the way.
I was given 100 hours in-car training by my driving instructor (one of the best in the country) and after completing that, I then had to give the head examiner of Hornsby RTA a driving lesson (to say I was intimidated was an understatement!) but again, with all of the excellent training I received, I passed with flying colours.
Still, I did not have my full instructors licence, as there was a 1 year probation, ensuring I was a good instructor with no complaints from students before I received the full licence.
An awful lot to go through just to teach people how to drive!
Fast forward to 2018....here in QLD, a person can become a driving instructor in as little as 2 weeks! (Don't take my word for it - go ahead and Google it) And even more disturbing, that person may have as little as 15 hours in-car training with a driving instructor trainer!
These short courses seemed designed to appeal to retirees and taxi drivers who wish to supplement their income. Nothing wrong with that, unless they are poorly trained, resulting in unhappy and unskilled students and an unhappy instructor who went to the expense of undertaking the course, purchasing a car etc only to find it's a lot harder to teach than they expected, and therefore the business ceases within a year. I have seen this many times over the last 11 years living here on the Gold Coast.
Driver training is not a side job.
I get many students from other driving schools in my car, and what they tell me about their previous instructors is positively frighting:
From the students:
"He fell asleep at the traffic lights"
"My instructor never turned up for 3 of my lessons and didn't even call me!"
"He just sat there and never said anything"
"She kept grabbing the steering wheel and using her dual controls - I didn't feel like I was driving"
"I never got shown how to steer"
"He was so grumpy and yelled at me"
Your instructor should be: professional, on time, appropriately dressed, have a tidy car. And above all - teach.
Learning to drive should be an exciting and fun time - not a chore, or worse, a bad or stressful experience.
There are many good instructors out there, but there are also many sub-standard ones as well. And it's not just the small one person operations, the largest schools also have some dreadful instructors.
As a parent, we will do anything to keep our children safe.
Please, do your research, look at the reviews of the driving school, ask other parents and students. Remember, passing the test is not the end game, safe driving for life is!
I was really not wanting this to be negative, but I feel that driver training is not been given the gravitas it deserves.
I do not want to embarrass other instructors, I just want a higher level of training.
There is no such thing as a perfect driver, same for instructors, but we can do better.
If you want to do something about it, please contact your state representative and ask them to increase the requirements to become a driving instructor.
There are many good instructors, who like me - care about their students, and do their best to create excellent drivers.
Wishing all of you happy and safe driving