Born in Malawi, brought up in East London, and now living in Hertfordshire, Nayesh Radia has travelled a long way to reach the heady height of FirstCar’s ADI of the Year. Previously he worked in the creative world of TV, Film and Theatre, then as an IT Engineer and Project Manager, becoming an ADI seven years ago. Nick Moger, founder of Marmalade Network and sponsor of the Driving Instructor of the Year category, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to recognise Nayesh at this year’s First Car Awards. Driving instructors are among the UK’s unsung heroes, sitting beside thousands of learner drivers and nurturing them as they learn to navigate the road safely. Demonstrating a real passion for his job and providing a positive experience for the learner driver on their road to independence and freedom, Nayesh deserves this recognition and I hope it encourages him to keep up the good work.”

Learning to drive was very different 30 years ago… fewer vehicles on the road, attitudes and behaviours were very different, though the test was just as nerve racking.

Any type of test or exam is worrying and stressful… many undergo feelings of anxiety, particularly with the increasing demands and expectations to cope with today’s traffic conditions. But it’s important to raise the bar to maintain better road sense, discipline and awareness with everything getting that much faster and busier.

Change the test to ‘Driving Assessment’… Examiners should be called ‘Assessors’ because learners are being assessed on their ability to judge, plan, anticipate, react and respond to given situations/circumstances during their drive, rather than tested. I believe this change of emphasis would have a positive impact psychologically, mentally and physically on candidates. I never thought I’d make a good driving instructor… having run Fleet courses and Drink/Drug driver Awareness courses, I now realise that our own daily worries, work and family pressures play a huge part in the attitudes and driving behaviour displayed on the roads.

The UK has a good driver training and testing regime… a stringent and well controlled methodology, but we do need to constantly review, adapt and change to meet the ever-changing demands on the road. While technology plays an increasingly pivotal role in our decision-making processes, it should not be allowed to override the human interaction factor.

Younger drivers shouldn’t be unfairly singled out… accidents happen due to a judgement error or lack of concentration, or that auto-pilot driver mode due to familiar roads. All age groups are guilty of this. I think we need to start delivering driver, cycling and road safety theory in schools from the age of 14/15. This will better prepare future younger drivers even before they start or first sit behind the wheel for their first lesson, whoever that might be with sitting next to them.

Driving instructors are individuals… working to a set national standard and format means we have a good measure of delivery and outcomes will be maintained, hence the simple ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ levels. In reality, not everyone will be capable of instructing adequately, in the same way that not everyone can be teachers or doctors.

ADIs need more credit and recognition… our feedback and active participation in road safety matters should be taken into account before laws are passed. I am sure many ADIs feel they are not valued/respected enough considering they all have real and valuable working knowledge and experience that would help improve and deliver road safety. ADIs and other professionals in this industry should be given greater opportunities to voice their opinions, ideas, and possible solutions, on a standard platform, a shared knowledge base. Information is power.

FirstCar ADI of the Year 2018… it was a real surprise, but I don’t believe there is a secret to success. I do find I am always learning and acquiring new skill sets or finding different ways of delivering the training to meet each learner’s level, ability and overall desire to learn to drive, as opposed to just preparing them to pass a test. Competence, conviction and confidence – it is about transferring skills and changing attitudes.

These awards are a first… it will be good to see how they are received in years to come. I am both honoured and humbled. I continue to keep focused and deliver the training in much the same way as before. The pressure now is to maintain that level of delivery after being named ‘ADI of the Year’ – there is an added expectation now. It is great to have the accolade for the business and no doubt it is something this industry should promote even more. We all need to work together more to help make roads safer for all.

This is an industry that will always require change… reflection, the introduction of proactive measures through discussions, debates and finding sensible solutions. There will always be the need for people to learn how to use different vehicle forms or other modes of transport safely. Roads are getting busier and more congested, and it is not about laying blame on others, or building separate lanes, or changing the infrastructure. The training industry has to evolve to meet the changes. We all have to learn to share the roads more responsibly, with accountability, awareness and responsibility. With this in mind, I have been campaigning for over two years to try and get all cyclists registered and trained to the National Standard in a similar way to motorists, and it is incredibly satisfying to know that organisations like DVSA and the DfT are now seriously considering this idea.

Too many take unnecessary risks through impatience… running a few minutes late is better than never getting to your destination. Training, awareness and all taking due care and attention.

Attitudes behind the wheel can only change through better awareness… road safety courses in school for younger people, re-assessments for older people so they too are aware of the new changes and demands of the roads today. We need a more cohesive, joint effort by all road safety, transport and service providers.

It is not just up to the Government… businesses, corporate giants, educational institutions, emergency services, parents and us as individuals also have a key role to play in improving life on and around the roads. We need a better sense of responsibility and accountability, but with funding and resources also made available by the Government.

Motto… one idiot is enough on the road, don’t be the other one.