Choosing a driving school isn’t just a matter of finding the one that’s closest to your home. If you’re looking for driving lessons then you’re going to be paying a fair amount of money, so you want to know that you’re getting good service. We’re looking at all you need to know when choosing a driving school, so that you can pass that driving license test first time!
The K53 Question
Before you start looking at driving schools, you’ve got a decision to make. In South Africa there are two parts to learning how to drive. Firstly, you must pass what’s known as the K53 test to get your learner’s license. This is a theoretical test that tests your knowledge of driving and traffic laws and you MUST have a learner’s license before you can get into a car to learn how to drive.
Why is this important? Because a driving school can help you take the K53 test if you like through a special study course. This will add to the overall cost, but may be helpful for you. If you choose not to take this option, then you’ll need to make sure that you pass the K53 test and get your learner’s license before you start taking driving lessons!
Pro Tip: Whilst the K53 test isn’t too difficult, getting an appointment to take the test can be. It might be worthwhile taking the learner’s license course at a driving school simply because the school will help you get an appointment at the testing centre. If you’re already ready to take the test it’s worth asking your chosen driving school if they can help make an appointment anyway.
Do I Need a Driving School?
Once you’ve got your learner’s license then you’re ready to start learning how to drive. Do you need to go to a driving school to learn to drive? No, you don’t. Unlike in some other countries, the law in South Africa does not require you to go to driving school. You can learn to drive from any qualified driver, including your parents, siblings or friends. But you might WANT to go to driving school.
So Why Should I Go to Driving School Then?
There are several reasons why a driving school might be the way to go, and a better decision for you than learning from relatives or friends:
Driving school teachers are patient, whilst relatives and friends may not be!;
You are likely to learn to drive faster with a qualified instructor who knows how to teach;
Many driving schools used specially equipped cars with controls on both the driver’s and passenger’s side, meaning that they’re safer if you should panic or make a mistake;
If you attend a driving school you don’t need to worry about car insurance issues, unlike in a private car where you may not be covered by the owner’s insurance if you don’t hold a valid driving license;
A driving school can help you with all the associated bureaucracy and paperwork that goes into taking your driving test, saving you time and trouble.
Obviously, the downside of going to driving school is that you are going to have to pay for lessons. But for many people this is more than worth it, since they learn to drive faster and with less stress and worry than if they were to learn from a relative or friend.
Pro Tip: Cheaper driving schools are tempting, but keep in mind that cheaper schools are likely to have more clients, more crowded classrooms and less available appointments for lessons. You might want to balance the potential cost of lessons against the convenience of having more individual attention from an instructor and the ability to have flexibility for when your lessons take place.
What Am I Looking for in a Driving School?
So, you’re ready to take the plunge and learn how to drive, but you’ve found hundreds of driving schools in your area? Here’s what you should be looking for:
Qualifications: driving instructors with the driving school should be appropriately qualified to teach, they should be members of SAIDA (the South African Institute of Driving Instructors) and hold a valid teaching license, don’t hesitate to ask to see this license!;
Location: either you will need to get to the driving school, or you will need to pay for the time it takes an instructor to get to your home to pick you up, either way, the closer a driving school is to your home, the more cost effective it will be;
Availability: you want a driving school that gives you plenty of options to take lessons, if you ask for a demo lesson and they have only one appointment available this isn’t a good sign, being offered the choice of several appointments means that you’ll probably have more flexibility when choosing times for your lessons;
Modernity: you’re looking for modern cars to learn in that are well maintained, and up to date classroom supplies including the most recent editions of all learning materials;
Rapport: you will learn better from someone that you get along with, as opposed to someone that intimidates you, so ask to meet your teacher before signing a contract, don’t be afraid to ask for a different teacher either. Similarly, schools that don’t assign one teacher to a student (sending different teachers each time) can be a problem, since you’ll lack the continuity that you get from one teacher who knows your progress.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a driving school then you may want to compare a few different schools. In this case, there are a few questions that you might want to ask:
How long have you been teaching?
How many students are in a class (if you’re taking the learner’s license class as well)?
Can I take a demo lesson before agreeing to a whole course?
Do you have any form of guarantee (some schools will offer free lessons or a discount if you don’t pass your test first time)?
What percentage of your students pass their test first time?
If there’s a problem with my teacher, can I change teachers?
Driving Schools for Non-Learners
Finally, even if you do hold a driver’s license, you may still want to consider taking driving lessons at a driving school. Many driving schools offer advanced driving courses, teaching you to better drive in wet or winter conditions, for example. Taking these kinds of courses can be fun, but may also mean you get lower car insurance premiums as well, so they’re worth considering!
Choosing a Driving School: The Bottom Line
There are plenty of driving schools to choose from in South Africa, and what’s most important is that you choose a school that suits you. You’ll learn better and faster if you’re in a comfortable environment with a teacher that you like and trust. Of course, money does have to come into the equation too, but a good driving school can be a good investment. The faster you pass that driving test, the faster you can drive yourself around and stop depending on other people!
Main Subject: driving school
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