Our Intelligent Instructor Christmas Bonanza and landing him with almost two thousand pounds worth of prizes
Born in North Wales, in his early teens he moved to Bristol and has been parked there ever since. But he received a Christmas surprise this year when he was given a ticket, but there was no fine to pay. Instead, lady luck gave him the winning ticket in the Intelligent Instructor Christmas Bonanza and landing him with almost two thousand pounds worth of prizes. “I was really surprised to hear that I had won the competition. I enter the draw every month but never expect to win and was slightly sceptical when I received the news. It took a while to sink in, but I’m delighted. The prizes where very gratefully received and included a Dash Cam, a breathalyser kit, ControlPal, training aid, a year’s FBTC accountancy membership, SmartDriving programme and more. Just unbelievable really, but true.” After nearly 20 years in the business, it’s perhaps not so surprising that his motto is ‘Keep calm and carry on’.
I always loved driving… the few lessons I had were all on dry sunny days, while the test itself was in torrential rain around the hilly Clifton area of Bristol in 1976. But I passed first time and I’ve had a ‘clean’ licence ever since.
The test doesn’t compare with today… the roads were a lot quieter, and the people were a lot more patient. These days, learning, testing and driving are certainly much more of a challenge, but we adapt to change well.
I had been made redundant… looking for a career change I took up driver training with BSM, then moved on going independent. I then tried franchises with a few local driving schools, but the results for me were really disappointing so I returned to operating independently and I haven’t regretted it. I’m a sole trader and enjoy being in total control of my own business. Franchises save one from having to advertise and do a lot of the marketing, but they can’t seem to guarantee a continual supply of work. In my experience, they only seemed interested in taking my fee and didn’t seem particularly bothered after that. But there are pros and cons with both franchises and sole trader, and different franchises provide different things, so it has to be down to personal choice in the end.
It’s both instruction and coaching… I think the original method of teaching through instruction works best to begin with, in the early stages. Then introduce the Client Centered Learning once the basics have been mastered. Some students really do like to determine their own path to progress and at their own pace.
Young drivers unfairly singled out in the media… Not at all! Most of them think that as soon as they pass their test, they’re masters of the road. You have to stress that they have only achieved to basic minimum standard of driving and I make a point of promoting further training post-test.
Are driving instructors good enough… it would be nice to think so but, looking at some students I have taken on after they’ve had a few lessons with someone else, it does make one wonder what/how they’ve been taught.
As an independent instructor, on-going further training has to be sought out and it’s not always easy to find the appropriate courses, while the larger national driving schools seem to offer on-going training in house, which is a great advantage. But as the economy improves, the rewards are there for those wishing to make the effort, and the price charged for driving lessons does, at long last, seem to be increasing. However, it seems that many enter the driver training industry not realising what hard work it is, moan or give up.
The job has changed… nearly 19 years ago, social media wasn’t there. If people wanted to meet up or get together, they would have to travel, and learning to drive was a prerequisite and gave people more independence too. Now, with the advent of, and greater use of, social media, communication with friends and family is much easier without the travel or actual physical interaction. The other real change is that the roads are much busier, other road users much more impatient and less forgiving, and they seem to be much less tolerant of learner drivers. But the industry itself has definitely changed too, for the better.
ADIs don’t get enough credit and recognition for the work they do… we are seen as being there purely to provide a service and training to get a driving licence. I haven’t experienced many former students coming back for any further training. As ADIs, we do our utmost to ensure our students are best prepared for a life of safe driving, but that is when they’re just starting out, not years down the line. We get minimal recognition in my opinion.
The right attitude behind the wheel is essential… more police and enforcement of traffic and vehicle law is really important. Initial training has a short-term affect and it is up to the driver to maintain or improve their standard of driving, and visible traffic police help remind them. I also believe that road safety should be a part of the national curriculum throughout the school years.
Remove all the vehicle safety features… cars are so well protected it gives drivers a false sense of security. Perhaps vastly increasing the risk of serious injury or death might just make people think more about their actions behind the wheel.
Thinking of becoming an ADI… it’s a long qualification process, mentally tiring, but extremely rewarding and you get to meet people (albeit briefly) from all walks of life.
The future… driverless cars would seem the way but, and consider me old fashioned, I’m not convinced.
More should be done… we need to improve and assess the standards of the growing older population of drivers. I think it would be a great idea to have an assessment every ten years upon licence renewal, but I don’t think it would ever be implemented.
A MK2 Lotus Cortina… a real classic and my car of choice. As long as I have my health (and the ability), it will always be a car for me. A good ‘old fashioned’ manual that I actually drive.