Road Safety News

26% use ADIs for majority of driving lessons

Friday 17th July 2015

A sizeable majority of people nowadays learn to drive with the help of family members and friends, rather than professional driving instructors, according to a new survey.

The survey, by the money-saving website*, showed that only 26% of recently qualified British drivers passed their test predominantly using a driving instructor for lessons; 46% said the predominently learnt with a family member and 28% a friend.

The poll of more than 2,000 newly-qualified drivers suggests people don't use instructors because they're deemed too expensive - an average of £810 compared with £180 for those who predominantly utilise friends and family.

On average, those who stated they had learnt predominantly with a family member or friend said they spent eight hours with a qualified driving instructor before taking their test, compared with an average of 36 hours for those who had used an instructor for the majority of their lessons.

Matthew Wood, managing director of, said: "It's surprising to hear that so many are choosing a less conventional route when learning to drive instead of the traditional method.

“That said, when you realise that those who turn to their family and friends can save so much money, it's actually a wonder that more people aren’t just using instructors for a few lessons before taking their test.

"Driving instructors are great. Even if you learn to drive with others, you still have to take a few lessons with a qualified instructor before being allowed to book and take your test, so the profession will never disappear completely.

“That said, if you're happy and comfortable to learn with someone that you know and trust then go for it.“

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it's a shame there is no study that can be trusted to indicate incident involvement post test covering both groups of learners. Having held an ADI badge for more than 30 years and only recently giving it up I for one would be interested in the results.

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That's an interesting one, David.

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I find myself questioning the costing quoted in this article. I would suggest that the cost of the additional insurance alone would be far more than the £180.00 quoted. Add to this the fuel cost and I just cannot see how anyone could learn or even practice between lessons for £180.00.

It begs the question do the parents/friends even think to tell their insurers that a learner is driving the car?
David Clark, North Yorkshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

Is it my imagination, or does one see fewer private cars displaying 'L' plates these days? I assume they atre still required for learners?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Fair points, Iain. But, in the interest of safety, what the ADIs should be communicating to the parents is the importance (nay, the great importance) of having sufficient space to be able to stop in time if things suddenly go pear shaped in front - and just knowing how to do an emergency stop is not what it is about. As I am sure you will agree types of gear change should be irrelevant by comparison.

Maybe it would be a good thing in law if all persons who supervise had to sit in with (say) at least two ADI sessions. However, the downside of that one is that it is not uncommon to see ADIs driving where they themselves would fail the very test they are teaching people to pass. I know there are good ADIs out there, and I know some, but unfortunately too many who are not in their personal example.
Nigel Albright

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There doesn't appear to be anything particularly new here. All good ADIs will advocate that their pupils practice with family/friends, indeed the very good ADIs will invite the practice partner along to a lesson or two to ensure consistency. We often hear of the parent/instructor conflict over block v. sequential gear changes, that's just one example of where good communication between all parties is the best practice. Is it that the 46% who 'predominantly learnt" with a non-ADI merely spent more time on informal training than the paid for sessions? Hasn't that always been the same?
Iain Temperton - Norfolk

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I should also have said that since most drivers, apart from (or consistent with) the fact that they would not pass their standard driving test, are also like the next crash waiting to happen - and are blissfully unaware of it.

Another interesting observation on supervising drivers that almost none of them use a secondary rear view mirror. In my mind this reflects the lack of importance in rear vision and simultaneously is sending the wrong message to the learner. i.e. By going to the trouble of getting and using a secondary rear view mirror they stress the importance rear vision, and that the central mirror where possible (i.e obviously not in vans etc) in a prime source of information from the rear.
Nigel Albright

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The interesting thing about this one is that the majority of drivers would fail their standard driving test if spot tested today, and these are the very ones considered competent to supervise learners.

But more than that; a child might ride in company with their parent/s from an early age and have maybe ten years of imprinting on how he or she goes about their driving (given that most drivers are below a basic level of safety). Considering most parents will be considered as role models, then the children are likely to have maybe ten years or more of wrong imprinting. You are hardly likely to remove that in a few lessons with an ADI. Then, if they pass their driving test they will generally be in the company of their peers who have, no doubt, gone through a similar experience. So where does it go from there and how do you break the circle? It's the perennial question.
Nigel Albright

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Apart from the CBT and direct access I wonder just how many motorcyclists are instructed/advised by parents, friends etc. Or do they just carry on riding without any advice from anyone? As they are not required to be with a qualified driver/rider as is a car driver I would presume that is what happens. Might be interesting to know.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner.

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You would assume that if there has been a move away from ADIs for the purpose of training there would be a corresponding drop in pass rates. Unless of course there is not such a great benefit in using a driving instructor. Perhaps as the term suggests ADIs are instructors and not educators and simply faciliate passing a test and not imparting long term knowledge.

Agree (8) | Disagree (14)