Tips when choosing a driving instructor – SAIDI Instructors have Integrity.

There are various ways to decide which driving instructor will suit you best:

1.      If you made the wrong choice, please be aware that we are not authorised to reclaim your money.

2.      If you really care about your children, then arrange a long, slow, regular course of lessons, at an affordable rate to suit your pocket, and practise to the same standard with them, please!

3.      Parents, please do not tell your children that your way of driving is far better and that they are being taught rubbish. if you disagree with the standards, please query it with us or with others who can answer your questions objectively.

4.      Word of mouth and personal recommendation. This is usually a good way to choose a driving instructor and driving school.

5.      Also ask if you will you have one person guiding you through the process, or be taught by a variety of instructors? Will you be comfortable with that?

6.      This is one place where you need to pay for quality. Your children’s lives and later your  grandchildren’s lives depend on your choice of driving school now.  We are always amazed and disappointed when parents take the cheap route after willingly paying for all kinds of extra-mural activities for many years. (See: Not all instructors deserve your hard-earned cash.)

7.      If an instructor promises you that you only need 10 one-hour lessons to pass as a new driver, you should not be tempted by this. It is not for nothing that Australia requires a minimum of a whole year’s driving after passing the learner’s licence test and a minimum of 100 hours of practise signed by family, friends, and driving instructors. (Professional lessons count as 3 hours to one hour of driver training.) In Australia this first year is followed by a full year driving with a red “P” sign, under special conditions, then a “hazards perception test,” then a third year on a green “P.”  By teaching each new driver to respect the law and safe driving principals, they have had a very positive impact on their road fatality statistics. In fact, when Perth had 15 road fatalities in a whole year, they were so shocked that they put 15 silhouettes alongside the National Freeways to remind the public to drive carefully. 1475 people reportedly died on our roads over Christmas 2012!

8.      Look through the yellow pages and phone various driving schools. Start making a shortlist after speaking to each one. You should immediately hear by the way they speak to you (and others), if you like the way they speak or not, but then take it further.

9.      Ask for a written quotation through e-mail or fax. (It is recommended to get everything in writing before you start. You must be told the Terms and Conditions upfront or that could lead to dissatisfaction on either side.)

10.Try meeting an instructor. You could watch them working with other clients at the practise areas.

11.Sometimes you respect someone once you meet them, and hear what they offer, and feel that they will suit your purposes. Do not settle for just anyone. This is a very important decision which could affect the rest of your life positively or adversely.

12.Take note of whether the driving instructor or school recommends that you do a code “C1” licence when you really need to drive a car. This is a shortcut to passing a driving licence, but will leave you unable to handle a car safely, despite having a legal driving licence. We are told that the previously proposed legislation calling for graduated licences is going to be re-introduced.

13.Take note if several people share your driving lesson and each pays for the full time. That could mean you only get a small percentage of what you are paying for.

14.Consulting an internet site where various instructors are listed. (You can use this way to get a feel for the industry – speak to them as well, and get everything in writing). N.B. We will be displaying all out members onsite soon. In the meantime, see our old website: www.saidi.co.za.

15.Asking at the testing centres. (This is not the best recommendation, because it might lead to corruption.)

16.Driving instructors should be recognised and known at Drivers Licence Testing Centres, (after all, they do take their clients there regularly for tests, and know the examiners), but they should not try to be “buddies” with examining officers. Their relationship should be a moderately friendly, professional, respectful one on the side of the examiner towards the instructor, and vice versa. Watch out for over-friendly behaviour, instructors pushing in front of others who have waited for hours in queues and rudeness to anyone. There should not be any form of drinking, back-slapping and socializing together, except for working meetings, in general. Be very suspicious of any offers of “organising something on your behalf.” Ask if you have any doubts.

17.Some people ask for one lesson first, to see if they are happy to learn with the driving school. This is always a wise decision. Does the instructor show patience, respect, care, a happy, positive attitude, and do they comply with the correct K53 standard? Arm yourself by downloading the official K53 manual and going through it before starting lessons. See this website – legislation.

18.Reading adverts in local press. (This can be a first introduction – speak to them afterwards, and ask for a written quote.)

19.Seeing adverts on lampposts and billboards, and in photograph booths at the testing centres. This is generally not a good way to select your driving instructor. Shady types may also use these ways of attracting custom.

20.Offers of guaranteed test appointments and guaranteed passes are a strong warning signal against an instructor.

21.Adverts on poles are a distraction to drivers too.  There are already so many road signs for drivers to look out for and comply with, that advertising on lampposts should be avoided.

22.Ask for references.  Phone and speak to them.

23.It is imperative to ask to see a copy of the driving instructor’s valid certificate, which is the only legal document which authorises a person to charge for driving instruction. Please note: The instructor’s certificate is valid for one year. If he or she applied for a renewal prior to the expiry, they will be able to show you a receipt to prove it. Do not accept training from an unregistered instructor.

24.We at SAIDI constantly receive requests for help when the public have trusted these instructors and lost a lot of money.

25.On occasion a member might be struggling to get their annual instructor’s certificate renewed due to documents being lost. In that case Regulation 250 (16) covers them, until the results of their application is received. Regulation 250 reads: (16) Where the holder of an instructor’s certificate applies, prior to the expiry thereof, for the renewal of such instructor’s certificate or for a new instructor’s certificate, the existing certificate shall after the expiry thereof, remain in force until such holder is notified by the Director-General: Provincial Administration concerned of the result of his application.

26.A very strong recommendation for a driving instructor would be if the instructor has voluntarily decided to become a member of a recognised Association, particularly SAIDI, which only accepts legal driving instructors or TETA accredited or advanced members; has a  Code of Conduct and a Constitution, indicating that a person is willing to ensure that they offer a very high standard of service to their clients, and a high level of instruction. In the event of any form of dissatisfaction, there is recourse.

27.Our members should all display our logo on their vehicles.

28.Please contact us if a driving instructor claims to be a SAIDI member, but is not on our website. There are many who know the benefits of being a SAIDI member, and claim to belong, but do not because they have not met our high standards.

29.The driving school must, of course, be using a roadworthy vehicle/s.

30.The driving school vehicle/s must be fully-comprehensively insured, not as a private vehicle, but as a driving school vehicle, and the owner should be willing to prove it. Legal instructors pay a lot for the right insurance policy.

31.The driving school vehicle should preferably be fitted with dual controls on the left side of the vehicle. A dual-controlled brake is the minimum safety precaution despite the fact that Annexure to Regulation 250 has not been included in the NRTA of 1996, so many driving schools do not go to the additional expense of fitting dual controls.

32.While it is not actually a legal requirement to fit dual controls at the moment, legislation is pending where this requirement will again become compulsory. A responsible person will take the precaution despite legislation not existing at the moment.

33.SAIDI assists driving schools to find good companies who install dual controls. While South Africa still does not have standards for dual controls kits, one importer’s duals have passed German ISO standards. A choice of pedals can be selected, to fit any vehicle, manual or automatic, which can cut costs, while providing essential safety in an emergency.

34.Driving school vehicles should be clearly sign-marked with the name and contact details of the driving school. Sign-writing, magnetic signs, overhead signs, branding etc. are some of the various ways which authentic driving school vehicles should be marked.

35.Watch the way the instructor behaves and speaks to you, and others. Decide if you are comfortable with that. Do you have the instructor’s full attention, or does he walk around chatting with his friends, leaving you struggling alone?

36.Avoid over-dependency though. At some stage you need to be able to practise alone without demanding your instructor’s full attention and support. On the day of your test you will need to be able to cope unassisted.

37.Only towards the end of your course, once you are in full control of the vehicle, should you be unsupervised for any length of time.

38.Ask if you are covered by insurance should you cause a crash? Who would bear the cost?

39.Does your instructor use a short list for the exterior and interior checklists of the vehicle, (in other words the bare minimum to get you your licence), or are they giving their clients the correct K53 standard of instruction to teach you how you should check your vehicle for road-worthiness on a daily basis?

40.Do they bad-mouth the K53 standard, or teach it in such a  way so that you can begin to understand why this standard has saved lives throughout the commonwealth countries for many years under a different name – the Advanced standard of driving? It has been upgraded and adapted as the K53 test, which is being re-vamped at the moment to encompass modern vehicles and road conditions.

41.Ask them if they teach “The System of Vehicle Control.” If they cannot tell you what it is, they are not correctly trained defensive driving instructors.

42.You do not have to accept being treated roughly or disrespectfully. However, please bear in mind that you must play your part too. A driving instructor has every right to expect a client to attempt to follow his / her instructions carefully, without causing damage to expensive vehicles through a lack of co-operation, or by causing a dangerous situation to develop by taking very sudden, unexpected action.

43.While every new driver hopes other drivers will show mercy if they unintentionally make a mistake, it is not acceptable for clients to behave carelessly, or without any sense of responsibility towards other road users either.

44.Moodiness, and tantrum throwing is childish behaviour which should never be tolerated.

45.You do not have to endure learning in a vehicle filled with cigarette smoke, or if the instructor smells of alcohol or drugs. In fact, you should refuse to take the lesson under those circumstances. Report the matter to the driving school owner or authorities immediately in the case of drugs or alcohol.

46.You are entitled to be trained in a roadworthy vehicle. If a vehicle gives problems, a good driving instructor will accept the loss, (because unfortunately all vehicles give trouble from time to time), and if that happens, they should give you a replacement lesson or test, bearing all costs if the fault lies on the driving school’s side.

47.A client cannot expect a driving instructor to give a lesson if he has not remembered to have a valid learner’s licence or driving licence in the vehicle on every lesson. The instructor is fully-entitled to require payment for that lesson.

48.Pupils should give 48 hours of cancellation, except in emergencies, where the instructor may make an exception.

49.In the case of illness, either the client or pupil should reserve the right to cancel the lesson and replace it at a time when they are better. It is unacceptable to knowingly pass on illness to one another since it affects others as well.

Learning to drive is a big occasion in any person’s life. it has long-term consequences. Excellent driving instruction should ensure your safety while driving for the rest of your life. It is not a game to be taken lightly, although it can and should be fun. Human nature is basically lazy. Take care to keep improving your driving standard across your lifetime. Don’t pass the test, then start driving like the rest of the population. It is going to take years of very dedicated focussed driving by every single driver in the country to lose the reputation of the highest death rate in the world on our roads. Don’t leave it to someone else. You are ultimately entirely responsible for your safety when driving. We wish you independence and a lifetime of safe, confident, legal driving!

We wish you a happy driving experience and many years of safe, efficient, confident driving obeying all the laws carefully.