How long have you been a driving instructor for?
I’ve been a driving instructor for 14 years, I qualified in 2004.
What were you doing before that?
Before becoming a driving instructor I worked for 13 years at Blackpool Council. I was in the illuminations department where I was part of a large team responsible for the construction of the illuminations display. I was a GRP laminator, so all the big illuminations tableau on the cliffs, I was responsible for making those (not on my own of course!). Also, whilst at the council I drove a variety of vehicles including a forklift truck ,various sizes of van and cherry pickers, right up to articulated vehicles, HGV class one, as they were known then, and I also have a full motorbike license. The only thing I am not legally entitled to drive is a bus.
I left the illuminations department in 2000 to go to Holland and work in an engineering factory, I was there for three years also with my wife and three kids, it was a great experience to live in another country, we all became pretty fluent in the Dutch language which does come in handy quite often, although I’m a bit rusty now! In 2004 though we decided to come back home to England and that’s when I made the decision to retrain as an ADI.
What do you enjoy most about driving instructing?
There are lots of things that I enjoy about being a driving instructor, I really like the freedom of working for myself, but also being part of a team, with the support there if you need it. I couldn’t go back now to work in a normal 9-to-5 job. I enjoy being on the move all day and not being stuck in one place. The thing I enjoy most of all though, is taking a complete beginner, who barely knows what the steering wheel is on the car, and taking them through the whole process, right up to passing the driving test and becoming a full license holder. When they come back from their driving test with a big smile on their face, having passed, that is the most satisfying part of my job. It’s also great when you see them out on the road a few weeks later in their own car, or they see you somewhere and say hello, it’s a great feeling to know that you have played a big part in helping lots of people gain a full licence, which has made life so much easier for them.
Is there anything you dislike about the job?
The main thing I dislike about being a driving instructor is probably the same as most instructors. It’s the cancellations and also when you turn up to a pre-booked appointment and nobody is there (a no-show as we call it). We have made the effort to get up, to make the appointment, but somehow they don’t seem to bother and also it has a knock-on effect on the rest of your day, I always kind of think to myself “do you want to learn to drive or not?”
The other thing I find really frustrating is the attitude of other motorists when we are out on the road. Teaching the learner driver is the easy bit, the hardest part is dealing with the drivers behind, often tailgating, and terrifying the novice driver. A lot of them seem to forget that they have all been learner drivers at one point.
What are your interests/hobbies outside of driving instructing?
I’ve had lots of hobbies and pastimes over the years, including martial-arts and motorcycling. Whenever I get the time these days I try and get out on my bike, I really enjoy the freedom of being out cycling after being sat down in a car all day. My other main interest now is learning to play the guitar. It’s something I always wanted to do, I tried about 20 years ago but gave up because my fingers hurt! I’ve been at it about 18 months now and it is a slow frustrating process. I often use the comparisons between driving a car and playing the guitar in the learning process, as I know how learner drivers feel when they are not progressing as fast as they would like to. I don’t think I’ll ever be in a band, but you never know, one day?