Whilst there remains much debate surrounding the relative ease to qualify as a driving instructor, the UK’s roads are getting increasingly more populated. With this in mind, there’s certainly greater reliance on driving instructors to teach future drivers to the best of their ability, yet the question still remains – what exactly are they doing about it?
There can be little doubt that driving instructors also have to be incredible learners themselves, actively seeking new skills and knowledge in what they do. They’re also responsible, of course, for ensuring their pupils are fully equipped with everything they need to not only pass their test but then continue to improve through experience whilst out and about on Britain’s roads.
In this article, we consider more closely what driving instructors are doing to teach future generations.
What training do driving instructors themselves have?
On 23 December 2017, some important changes were made by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to the way which driving instructors currently qualify. 
Firstly, in order to become an “Approved Driving Instructor” (or “ADI” as it’s more commonly referred to), a candidate has to pass three key tests, namely:
- ADI Part 1 – which compromises of a theory test
- ADI Part 2 – a driving ability test
- ADI Part 3 – an instructional ability test
Consequently, whilst ADI Part 1 has remained the same, ADI Part 2 has now been changed to reflect changes made to the car driving test on 4 December 2017. On the back of this, trainee driving instructors are also required to more specifically demonstrate the skills they’ll be teaching to learner drivers which now include:
- Driving independently for approximately 20 minutes (10 minutes more than previously)
- Accurately following directions dictated by a sat nav system, or a series of traffic signs
- Undertaking two of four possible reversing manoeuvres (parallel parking, reverse parking, bay parking and road-side reversing)
- Correctly answering two vehicle safety questions whilst driving
In addition to this, changes have also been made to the third part of the test so that trainee driving instructors now undertake a much more realistic assessment as regards their ability to teach an individual pupil. In previous years, the ADI part 3 test required the trainee instructor to provide virtual training to a driving examiner who would role-play the part of a pupil. However, this requirement has now changed quite substantially, meaning that the trainee instructor gives a driving lesson to a real pupil whilst the examiner assesses their ability to tailor the training to the learning needs of that particular pupil. This, then, makes for a much more realistic scenario and has certainly gone some considerable way to improving the previous test requirements.
During this particular process, the examiner will now look for a number of things when assessing the trainee instructor. These include:
- Evidence that the trainee instructor clearly meets the national standard for driver and rider training
- Competence across 3 separate categories, namely a) lesson planning, b) risk management and c) learning skills
Suffice it to say, these very important changes to the old test will now bring the ADI Part 3 test firmly in line with the ADI standards check – a process which every approved driving instructor is required to undertake at least once every 4 years in order to remain fully qualified.
What are the key goals of improving instructor training?
The recent improvements for the ADI test have formed part of the DVSA’s strategy to help keep everyone safe on UK roads.
“DVSA’s priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving. To make sure that new drivers get the best possible training, we’re improving how we assess that ADIs have the knowledge, modern driving skills and understanding they need to provide successful tuition. ADIs play a vital role in improving road safety. These changes mean they’ll be better prepared for the realities of teaching a wide range of pupils to become safe and responsible drivers.” – Jacqui Turland, ADI Registrar.
“We welcome the implementation of the new part 2 and part 3. Getting the process right for qualifying new driver trainers, and ensuring they have the most relevant skills and knowledge of driving in a modern context, is crucial in delivering the next generation of new drivers and developing the safety of existing licence holders.” – Carly Brookfield, Chair of the National Associations Strategic Partnership of driving instructors.
How have existing driving instructors reacted to the improvements?
Since safety should never be compromised, it seems the new changes have been welcomed by both new and existing driving instructors across the UK. Indeed, according to research undertaken by the Red Driving School,  75% of instructors think a cycling safety element should also be included in the UK driving test. This is primarily due to more and more cyclists taking to the roads each and every year. In fact, according to Cycling UK,  traffic counts suggest that the number of miles cycled during 2016 (3.5 billion), were around 23% higher than the number of miles cycled ten years previous. For their part, 88% of instructors also believe that cyclists should complete some form of training programme to not only help reduce the number of accidents, but also to educate future generations on road safety and the safe sharing of roads with other modes of transport.
How are driving instructors helping to educate younger pupils?
Whilst it’s currently not legal to start driving under the age of 17, many reputable organisations now offer driving tuition for the under 17’s which are hosted on private land under very careful supervision.
With various courses on offer – from simple taster sessions, right through to more comprehensive programmes – these courses give younger drivers a unique opportunity to try their hand at driving and to also start learning about the various implications of becoming a sensible road user. Of course, the ultimate goal of such education is to equip young drivers with the skills and knowledge they will need throughout the rest of their driving life and not simply to ‘perform’ whilst on a driving test.
As we have seen then, there are certainly a number of ways within which driving instructors are going above and beyond what might ordinarily be expected from them in order to teach future generations the best ways to stay safe on Britain’s roads in any given scenario.
By offering fun and informative sessions – particularly to those under the legal driving age – both confidence and knowledge can be promoted from a very early age, with much more emphasis being placed on how to keep all road users safe whatever mode of transport they prefer to use.
In terms of what might be offered in the future well, this certainly remains to be seen. However, for now – at least – it seems reasonable to suggest that our driving instructors are doing whatever they can (and even a little bit more!) to help keep people safe, however they choose to travel. https://smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/
 Published by Gov.uk, 1 December 2017 from Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-instructor-qualifying-test-changes-december-2017
 Red Driving School, http://www.reddrivingschool.com/news/cycling-safety-element-in-uk-driving-test/
 Cycling.co.uk https://www.cyclinguk.org/resources/cycling-uk-cycling-statistics