learning to drive - part 3: picking a driving school

Update: I'd probably suggest avoiding Red Driving School; post has been updated to reflect my experience with them.

Now that I have my provisional licence and all that good stuff, I can now finally get on the road. and run over children

It didn't really occur to me what a pain selecting a driving school would be. There's just so many of them, and no useful resource with user reviews and such. Not one that reviews anything local, anyway.

Do I go for local, or something national? I've had recommendations that I go for an independent instructor, and then I immediately got a recommendation for going national. Uh, damn. After realising I was wasting too much time choosing, I went for Red Driving School. I've seen their adverts on the TV, and they had the most reviews on the previously mentioned review site.

They got 4-and-a-half stars out of 5 across 190 reviews. A few of the reviews are shocking (and Red's replies tend to be cut & paste jobs), but the rest are full of praise. As Red is a franchise, the instructors are local to the area they work in. Apparently there was one guy covering this area, so I didn't really get a choice on the instructor - not that I had any real preference other than saying "a good one". Not a young one either, for that matter. I don't want to be speeding on the needle bliss during my lessons.

The process of booking the lesson was easy enough. I used Red's site to get them to give me a callback (hey, I ain't gonna wait in a phone queue!); an hour later, they did. I already supplied some details via their call back form, so I didn't need to give them much.

The lady on the phone was surprised I had already applied-for and got my provisional licence. I guess not many people bother sorting that bit out themselves. I was given the run-down on what's available (I asked her to repeat herself a couple of times; their call centre is as noisy as hell), and it turns out there's a special offer in this area for £75 for 5 hours of lessons. I opted for the first lesson to be 2 hours long. Would've preferred 1.5hr lessons, but meh. I'm hoping the instructor isn't a gonk otherwise I may be stuck with him for the full five.

That was yesterday, and I'm still waiting for him to give me a call to work out the details and confirm everything.

[Update: Well. A couple of days later, I got an email from Red Driving saying that my first driving lesson had been "student cancelled". I didn't cancel it; in fact, I had been waiting for my driving instructor (Ian Stenton, covering the North East of England) to phone me and confirm. That didn't happen. Instead they cancelled my lesson with the bullshit excuse of me doing it.

To be honest, I sort of slightly regretted choosing Red Driving School after going through the rest of the negative comments on the review site (which funnily enough are of this very nature). I suppose I'm somewhat relieved that Red fucked up so early on so I wouldn't have to deal with their shit after I parted with money.

Now I need to find another driving school. Probably going to go for one down the road from here. At least I can punch them in the face if I need to. Expect another post with yet more driving school selection crud. Hmph.

Wow. Just found this while trying to somehow get their email address to reply to their cancellation mail (still haven't found it). Shady as hell and I'm glad I'm outta there. Red Driving School on ITV Tonight Programme.]

I'd ideally want to do around three lessons a week at 1.5 hours each. With the one instructor in this area, I'm hoping he has enough time to allow that. One lesson a week is going to frustrate me; I want to get right into this, and I'm confident I'm going to do well. Honestly, who learns something at one lesson a week? I'm not eight, so I tend to go full out until I've learnt the thing I'm pursuing.

I wouldn't have learnt to solve a Rubik's cube in under two minutes after a couple of weeks if I had done one crappy lesson a week. Yes, you may touch me. No, no photos allowed.

Intensive lessons? After much reading, I don't believe they work well for total beginners.

The next update should either be how my lesson went, or how I put the instructor's windscreen through and shat on his bonnet.

Posted: 2011-07-08 at 14:15:50,