When you’re learning to drive you need to find a good instructor, preferably one who knows your area. This might sound obvious – surely all driving instructors are ‘local’?
You might be surprised to find that isn’t necessarily true.
Of course, driving instructors aren’t going to be from that far away – it wouldn’t really be worth their while travelling 100 miles just to give someone a driving lesson.
But large driving schools and associations can move drivers around to cater for demand, so you might find you have someone from the next county or borough – someone who doesn’t really know your area well enough.
Is that a problem?
Good driver training will set you up to be able to drive anywhere in the UK, or even in the world, once you’ve passed.
After all, it wouldn’t be much use learning to drive in a new town full of roundabouts and wide roads if it meant you couldn’t cope in a large urban sprawl, with traffic lights and old, narrow streets.
So perhaps it shouldn’t matter if your driving instructor doesn’t know your area that well?
The local advantage
To a degree, possibly. But the reality is, particularly during your first few lessons, you need to be with someone who knows your area like the back of their hand.
They need to know the quiet streets and places where you can relax and get the feel of a car right at the very beginning. Streets or large car parks where there’ll be few, if any, cars that might come near you. Streets that are wide, clear and forgiving for those vital first few outings.
Later on, you’ll be getting to grips with low-speed manoeuvring like parallel parking, three-point turns and reversing. Will an instructor who isn’t really local know the quiet streets where you can do this in safety?
Consistency is key
A local driving instructor, as well as knowing the ins and outs of your area, will always have the same car and the same instructor.
It’s important for your confidence that you stick with the instructor that you know and are used to. But with a large organisation, you can’t always be sure that you’ll be sent the same person.
A local instructor will also use the same car every time. Instructors from a big driving school will probably have the same make and model of car, but all cars have their own little idiosyncrasies.
The car you know will have a slightly different feel to the brakes, clutch, accelerator and steering to another one, even if it’s exactly the same model, because it will have been used differently. It might even feel different purely because it’s done a different mileage to your usual car.
Go local and feel the difference
To give yourself the best chance of passing your test first time and becoming a better driver afterwards, using a local driving instructor is really the only way to go.