As you’d expect, you can’t just set up shop as a driving instructor by buying a car and some L-plates and taking out an advert in the local newspaper.
The driving instruction industry is heavily regulated to make sure that driving instructors know what they’re doing and that the new drivers they teach turn out to be safe road users. As a result, Section 123 of the Road Traffic Act (1988) says anybody who accepts cash for providing driving instruction must have passed the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) three-part exam.
It’s essential that you’re not taken in by a phoney instructor, but how do you know that somebody has passed these tests and is legally allowed to charge you in return for driving tuition?
Thankfully it’s easy. The giveaway is a badge which has to be clearly displayed in the windscreen of the car in which they teach you to drive. Which means your car, if the instructor isn’t using their own.
What you’re looking for is a green octagonal badge which shows that the instructor is fully qualified; if their badge is a pink triangle they’re merely a trainee.
The badges are made of plastic, not paper, and measure 10.5cm across. They also have a date on them and a unique instructor number and there should also be a photograph of the instructor on the inside, taken within the last four years. If any of these elements are missing, be very wary.
Be even more wary if there’s no licence on display and you’re offered lame excuses as to why not. By law the instructor has to show it when teaching and they can be fined up to £1,000 for not doing so.
If the licence is missing, it’s not just a question of the instruction potentially being rubbish; the instructor probably hasn’t gone through the enhanced CRB check which is required to qualify for a full licence.
It’s essential that you’re not taken in by a phoney instructor just because they’re ultra-nice with you. You can report an illegal instructor online or by calling 0115 936 6051.