Monday, May 4, 2009

Is your son or daughter ready for their driving test? Let the driving instructor decide.

I’ve been a driving instructor since 1994 and have successfully got hundreds of pupils through their driving tests and onto the road. One thing I never, ever do is allow pupils to go for their test unless I think they are ready because apart from the fact that it is a complete waste of their money, it can have a negative effect on their confidence.

My experience is good enough to tell me when someone has a good chance of passing their driving test. So what I say to pupils is, when I think it’s time to book your test, I will tell you. However, sometimes a pupil will tell me they want to book their test and when I question them, what do they say? ‘My mum said I’m ready’ or ‘my dad said it’s time’.

How do the parents know? Have they been doing my job in their spare time?

Parents can be a real pain when it comes to their kids’ driving tests. For some reason they seem to think they know when they are ready, just because they have had a certain number of lessons or have been learning for a set length of time.

Mum or dad thinks that because they only needed ten lessons to get through their test, the same will go for their son or daughter. They can’t seem to get their heads round the fact that not everyone is the same.

My job is to make sure drivers are safe and experienced enough to handle themselves on the road. If I have any doubts that a pupil could be dangerous to themselves or other road users, I have a duty to continue their tuition until such a time I feel they are ready to go it alone and I will not put them forward for their driving test.

So why do parents think they know best? Why do they think, despite the fact that they are not qualified driving instructors, that they know their son or daughter is ready to take their test? And why when I tell them they are not ready do they look at me as if they don’t believe me, as if they think I am trying to get more lessons and therefore more money out of their kids?

I wish parents wouldn’t get too involved and I wish they would place more trust in my professional judgement. I don’t mind them offering their time to take pupils out on practice lessons in between their lessons with me – that’s very helpful - but when it comes to knowing whether their son or daughter is ready for their driving test, they really should leave that decision to the Approved Driving Instructor and appreciate that us professionals only have their best interests at heart.