Learning to drive

How to find the right driving instructor

Choosing the right instructor can make all the difference when you start learning how to drive.

It’s not just about having someone experienced and qualified in the car next to you - they also have to be someone you trust and feel comfortable with.

So when it’s time to get going, ask yourself these 6 questions.

  1. What do the experts say?

    When I say experts, I mean people you know who have passed their tests and are safe, confident drivers.

    A personal recommendation is a great way to find a driving instructor so ask anyone you know who is learning to drive or passed recently. Failing that, get online and read some reviews of local driving instructors.

  2. Are they qualified?

    Driving instructors will only be considered qualified after they complete an MTO-approved driving instructor course. In 2013, the Toronto Star found 50 schools willing to offer in-car lessons even though they were not authorized by the province to do so.

    Ontario has a list of approved schools, so it’s best to pick one of them. Teachers must display their driving instructor licence in the car used for driving lessons.

    Tip: Make sure the school you pick isn’t on the list of revoked schools.

    If you want to save some money on your insurance premiums and take your G1 road test sooner, look for schools that offer "MTO-approved beginner driver education courses" or "ministry-approved beginner driver education courses."

  3. Do you like them?

    A driving instructor isn’t a friend, a teacher or a parent - but they should be a mix of all those things. They’re helping you learn and keeping you safe, as well as making learning to drive a great experience.

    It should go without saying that your instructor should be punctual, friendly and give you the full lesson that you’ve paid for. Their car should be clean and in good working condition. They shouldn’t raise their voice at you or make you feel tense or uncomfortable.

    If they do, they’re not a right fit for you.

  4. Do they offer any great extras?

    • Ask any potential instructor if they can offer help with driving theory as well as practical teaching.
    • If you have work or college during the week, make sure they can teach you in the evenings or on the weekends.
    • Ask them if they can take you around the Drive Test centre where you plan to take the road test, so you can familiarize yourself with those roads.
    • Can they give you any advice for practicing on your own, like checklists or resources for those driving with you? It’s vital that you learn to drive as part of a team (you, your parents and your instructor) so this will give you a good indication of the instructor’s attitude.
    • Check if they offer any discounts for blocks of lessons.
  5. What’s their teaching style?

    Your priority might be to get on the road as quickly as you can but if you’re not ready, imagine the cost that could come with it. Not only the higher insurance if you crash, but the danger you’ll put yourself and other people in as an unprepared driver.

    Any good driving instructor will be focused on more than just getting you through your test.

    Inquire on what their approach is on teaching the skills you’ll need after you pass; things like driving attitude, eco-friendly driving, weather issues, and dealing with dangerous road situations.

    After all, once you pass you’ll actually have a car.

  6. What do they charge?

    This is the last question for a reason: the others are more important.

    Cost can be a big factor when searching for driving schools but don’t be tempted to go straight for the cheapest. It could mean you end up paying for more lessons if the instructor isn’t right for you.


Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.