Intensive driving course are they the best way to learn to drive?
What exactly is an intensive driving course?
They are concentrated lessons given over a short period of time and often (but not always) finish with a driving test.
What intensive driving course is right for you?
This is a common question most driving schools and instructors will get asked when people call to inquire about driving lessons.
To be honest it’s also a question that cannot be answered without meeting people and assessing their existing abilities.
Not one course fits all because people are at different standards when they want to go the intensive route.
They could be new drivers with no previous experience, someone with a few hours under their belt, or may be someone who’s already had a lot of previous practice.
Then you’ve also got to consider where, and who did they get their practice with.
Learner might have only practiced on car parks or private land, or they might have had 10 lessons 20 years ago and never driven since.
They might have practiced with family, friends or a professional driving instructor.
There are so many possibilities, which makes it impractical to advise on which course would suit them best.
So, where do you start?
Theory first. Before you can book a driving test you must have a valid theory pass certificate.
Bearing in mind that an intensive driving course should end with the driving test, therefore you won’t be able to book a course without the theory.
How many lessons will you need?
If you are a new driver with no previous experience, then you should consider that the course that you think you want, might fall short on the lessons you need to get you to the standard required to pass a driving test.
If you book a course with too few hours, once the course has started the driving instructor will not have any extra space, or the time to get you to standard before the test date resulting in the driving test being cancelled.
Even if you want to take the test for experience, your instructor won’t allow it if their opinion you could damage their car, or put people at risk including themselves and the examiner.
Also, the DVSA (who are the people responsible for driving tests, and driving instructors in the UK) will not be impressed with an instructor who allows a student to take a driving test when clearly, they are not at the required standard.
It’s not showing a proper sense of responsibility!
So, the logical first step for a new driver is to take a few lessons to grasp the basics and allow the instructor time to get an idea of your capability to learn on an intensive course.
For learners with previous driving experience they should take a few assessment lessons.
If they haven’t driven for some time they will need more than just a couple of hours to pick up somewhere near to where they left off.
Of course, if they are having lessons already and what to go intensive, their instructor will already be able to advise on which course is the right fit for them.
Don’t be tempted to book a intensive driving course without an assessment, because you won’t know the standard you need to be at to pass the driving test.
Even if you think your driving is good, it makes sense to get the opinion of an expert.
Intensive driving course and driving tests!
When can you realistically expect to start an intensive driving course?
This is where good marketing comes in to play. Intensive driving courses are big money, and companies are setting up web sites to capture people wanting to pass fast.
They advertise learn in a week on an intensive driving course, with a guaranteed test.
But what they don’t make clear is which week the course starts, so the potential customer assumes it’s next week!
But that’s rarely ever the case.
Generally there’s a waiting time to book a driving test at most of the test centres in the UK.
Over the last 3 years, test demand has increased by over 200,000 tests – with an extra 92,000 last year alone. At the start of the year there were 265 fewer driving examiners than the last time demand was this high. Between April 2008 and March 2009 the DVSA saw demand rise to 1,756,522. Source DVSA.
Waiting times at test centers can often be 3 months plus in advance, and that can increase if examiners take holiday or take sick leave, because there’s no one to cover their test’s, and so they get cancelled.
Another reason why you can’t just book an intensive driving course for the following week is that many of these internet companies who advertise courses don’t actually have their own driving instructors working for them, they are just middlemen.
So, they advertise intensive driving courses, take your money, and then try to find an instructor who’s short of work to accept the course.
Alternatively, you’ll be offered a split course. This is where you’ll start your week intensive driving course, and then wait a further few months for a test date before going back to take a few more days training.
Driving test centres
You can get around the test waiting time by taking the driving test in another town/city where the waiting time is shorter.
The problem with doing this is the lack of knowledge about the new routes. If you’re not familiar with the area, you’re at a big disadvantage.
What is the ideal lesson length?
This differs from person to person, and also depends on how advanced you are with your lessons.
Some intensive driving courses will have you in the driving seat for 7 hours a day. For example, a 35 hour course spread over 5 days.
Even a seasoned experienced driver will cringe at the thought of driving for seven hours, even though they will have little to think about, because they are driving from memory.
Drivers in the early stage of learning might be able to concentrate for a few hours but quickly become exhausted beyond that.
Learners with good experience can focus for up to three hours but beyond that you are asking a lot from them.
Following those guidelines, and new driver taking a 35-hour driving course will need 3 weeks to complete based on a 5 day a week.
A more experienced driver taking a 15-hour driving course would only need a week to complete the course.
Guaranteed test pass
If someone could guarantee a driving test pass, they would be a millionaire.
A Guarantee of a test pass is a gimmick.
No one can give you this type of guarantee unless they have an hand in the outcome. It implies that they can influence the driving test and that’s not possible.
What they really mean is that they will give you *unlimited lessons and book additional *tests each time you fail until you do pass.
*Check the small print unlimited isn’t unlimited!
But you are either going to pay way over the odds for this type of course, or give up for one reason or another.
Booking an intensive driving
Before handing over your money follow this simple guide.
- Pass the theory test first
- Take an assessment drive, or if new to driving book some lessons to get beyond the basics
- Agree your lesson dates and times (avoid taking more than three hours in a day unless you get a reasonable break between lessons) and test date with the course provider
- Read and agree to their terms of service, this should include lesson cancellation and test cancellation policy
- Ask for a detailed plan of the course in writing or by email for back up, and peace of mind. They will need to see your driving licence to book the driving test
- Confirm the instructors details, is he a franchisee of the school or an out sourced instructor, and do they conform with the course providers terms of service
- Once you are happy then pay them using either bank transfer or visa for proof of payment.