When you go to a shop you usually know what you're getting. You know exactly what Coca Cola is and what to expect from the product inside the can or bottle. You can shop around and compare prices on a like for like basis. The can of Coke you buy from a big supermarket is going to be the same as the one you buy from the local corner shop or the petrol station as it's the same product - the only thing that is different is the price.
However, driving lessons aren't the same.
A driving lesson from one instructor will be totally different from one given by another instructor. Unlike cans of Coke, there's a variable "human" element involved.
Personality, teaching style, adaptability, professionalism, committment to customer service, reliability, punctuality...all of these are factors that wll be different in every single driving instructor, even though they are all ultimately teaching the same subject.
Over the past few months, I keep coming across people on the internet who want to learn to drive, but state that they want a driving instructor who is "good, cheap and will get me through my test in as few lessons as possible".
Unlike popular fizzy drinks, when it comes to driving instructors, the words "good" and "cheap" rarely go together.
Before I explain why I think that cheap driving lessons can be a very false economy, I'm going to put the reason why everyone should learn to drive PROPERLY into perspective...
Driving is a skill for life. A car is a dangerous weapon. When driving, you are in charge of several hundredweight of hard, unyielding metal with a powerful engine capable of travelling at an extremely fast speed.
A car can literally be lethal if not used properly...it can injure and kill, not only you, but other people too. Road accident statistics make horrifying reading;
- Every day in the UK, 23 young people, under the age of 25, are killed or seriously injured in vehicles. Most of these collisions are caused by bad driving. Not the vehicle, the road, or the conditions
- 1 in 5 drivers crash within their first year of driving
- It is estimated that as many as one in five of all serious road accidents involve drivers under the age of 21
- Around 3,000 young drivers are killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads each year
- Young drivers are more likely to be involved in high speed crashes, single vehicle crashes involving losing control, crashes in the dark and crashes when overtaking and negotiating bends
Given that driving is so potentially dangerous, it never ceases to amaze me that so many people are determined to skimp on professional training and rush into doing something that could well cost them their lives if they make a mistake...
"Getting through your driving test in as few lessons as possible" does NOT mean that you will be safe on the roads. You need to think beyond "getting through your driving test" and think about what "driving" actually means.
Before you put the keys into the ignition of your own car and head off down life's highway, you need experience of different road and traffic situations and to know how to anticipate and plan to avoid or deal with dangerous or confusing situations. You also need to be considerate and responsible towards other road users yourself...in other words, you must be properly and adequately trained to handle your car safely. Just knowing enough to "get through your driving test quickly" isn't going to help you, if you meet a situation you don't know how to handle.
Learning to drive properly isn't cheap..but neither are the cost of funerals...think about it...
Back to the cost of driving lessons. Why are some instructors more expensive than others? I've heard people suggest that a driving instructor who charges more than £20 per hour is "ripping people off" and they know "someone who does 5 lessons for £49".
I won't make this blog entry too long, so I'll stop at this point. In Part 2 of this series of "Cheap Driving Lessons" blog posts, I'll be explaining EXACTLY why "someone who does 5 lessons for £49" can end up costing you MUCH MORE MONEY than a driving instructor charging £20 or more per hour...