A Driving Instructor's Blog

This story came in on the newsfeed. The title gives the impression that it is gong to be a learned discussion on whether or not learner drivers take their tests too early – but it isn’t any such thing.

The entire article is based on the single premise that if the national average number of hours taken is 40, then anyone taking their test in less hours than that is doing it too early!

And now, recent research is suggesting that learner drivers are taking the practical driving test too early, in fact, 90% of learner drivers! Basically, the claim is that only 10% of learner drivers are taking the recommended amount of driving lessons before the driving test. Based on the average prices, 40 hours of tuition is worth over £900, which is not including the cost of taking the theory and practical driving tests.

Absolute nonsense, and yet another example of someone who doesn’t understand statistics – but talks about them anyway. That figure of 40 hours is NOT a “recommended amount” of hours – it’s the average number people who pass their tests have actually taken, and therefore includes those who do it quicker than average as well as those who take longer. The author of the article ought to look up the word “average” and try to understand it before using it again.

Personally, I would like nothing more than for there to be a minimum number of hours professional training required before someone is allowed to take their driving test. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case – and it isn’t likely to be anytime soon. Even if they did impose a minimum number of lessons required, they simply wouldn’t dare make it as high as 40!

I would also like every learner to be a bottomless pit when it comes to having enough money to take lessons. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case either.

Blade Runner - car lift-offYou can’t fluke your way through the driving test – you’re either good enough to pass it or you’re not. The only thing that the test doesn’t evaluate is experience, and it never has done.

People say that driving today is a lot different to what it was 20 or 30 years ago. Part of me wants to shout “bollocks” to that – in fact, part of me will shout “bollocks”, because I know what they are getting at when they say it. In actual fact, driving today isn’t much different to what it was 20-odd years ago. There’s more traffic, and other drivers are bigger arseholes, but that’s about it. You still steer a car using a steering wheel, and there are still three pedals on the floor (or two if you’re in an automatic). They still use tarmac on the roads, and lanes have things called “white lines” between them. Apart from what you keep reading about the Google driverless car, we’re nowhere near having them out there alongside us yet, and cars still only employ two dimensions when travelling – not three, like in Blade Runner.

The bottom line is that – give or take one or two over the years – all of my pupils take their tests when they’re ready. If one is ready in less than 20 hours, then I will not stop them. Yes, there are some people out there – often immigrants desperate for licences, but not smart enough to realise how much extra it is costing them doing it their way – who take test after test but no formal lessons. But it sure as hell isn’t 90% of all learners.

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