‘Poor tuition is creating dangerous drivers’ claim

Driving instructors Bob Thorpe and Steve Akerman
Driving instructors Bob Thorpe and Steve Akerman

DRIVING instructors here in 1066 Country claim increasing numbers of pupils are being “conned” by unqualified tutors.

They claim that the public are being put at risk by dangerous drivers as a result of bad tuition.

Steve Akerman, of Washington Avenue, St Leonards, has written to the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) voicing his concerns.

He said: “An increasing number of pupils are being taught by incompetent instructors. The only way they (pupils) get their licence is by luck, not on quality of teaching, which costs as little as £9.50.

“It’s the same old story. You get what you pay for. But paying for driving lessons is not like buying a couple of pounds of potatoes because road safety is an issue. The people suffering will be the public after being involved in road accidents caused by pupils’ lack of driving skills.

“Having spoken to my colleagues we are finding that a lot of pupils calling for our services have already had quite a few lessons, on many occasions up to 20 or 30.

“The vast majority of these pupils have no idea about the basic need for safety like why mirrors need to be checked and how to turn right and left correctly.”

Mr Akerman said he believed many people learning to drive were being “short changed” by bad instruction and being “hoodwinked” into thinking they were getting a good deal.

He said: “It’s like buying the cheapest tin of beans in the supermarket and this problem has gone on long enough. We are sick to the back teeth of it.

“The first time pass rate for this area last year was 17 per cent, which means out of every 100 test candidates, 83 fail. This is appalling.”

Mr Akerman added that there were far too many instructors trying to attract too few pupils.

He said: “There were 29 in Hastings and Bexhill 20 years ago, according to one of my colleagues. Two weeks ago there were 144.”

Bob Thorpe, of Harvest Way, St Leonards, who runs Bob Thorpe Driving Tuition, said he thought there was a “lack of professionism” in the job.

He said: “Ridiculous low rates match the low quality instruction, but this can be a national problem, not just a local one.

“The job is being undermined by people trying to learn on the cheap.”

Mr Thorpe, who has been a driving instructor for 22 years, said he wanted to see a code of conduct drawn up for all driving instructors by the DSA.

A spokesman for the DSA said: “All approved driving instructors (ADIs) must meet high standards set by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), and pass three qualifying tests, before giving professional tuition. DSA regularly checks that ADIs maintain this high standard of instruction.

“We encourage all candidates to ensure that they are fully prepared to take their driving test. Those who pass have had, on average, about 47 hours of professional training with an ADI combined with about 20 hours of private practice.”