What exactly is it that makes local residents so angry?
As an ADI for the past 11yrs I have occsionally had to deal with this problem. Thankfully very rarely, in fact fingers of one hand, but it can be upsetting when it does. In each case it has been because the resident has reached the end of their tether, I have simply arrived after a spate of driving school cars have been in the area and they have finally decided to vent their anger on me and my pupil. As someone who will leave an area if I see too many cars present, especially in a small, quiet estate, this is particularly upsetting, but the tirade that has come out at me in relation to driving instructors has included the following:
- screeching tyres caused either through practice emergency stops, or wheel spins emerging from junctions (the resident who vented this latter one on me was elderly and, quite rightly, furious!)
- reversing round their corner (the residents living in the corner property) 'all the time'. (Have you noticed the increased number of cars in these estates parked close to the corner?)
- stopping outside their driveway
- sitting in their cars outside their house, engine running
- unbeliveably, throwing litter out of the car!!
- 'constantly' being held up by driving instructors teaching the turn-in-the-road, worst of all stopping, mid-turn, to give instruction! In fact I've been held up myself by this one, in an 'unmarked car', and it's very irritating! And definitely not client-centred!
Practising in test areas
One thing I believe an ADI should never do is to practise manoeuvres in test areas. It is my belief that those who do so are teaching their pupils to pass the test, rather than to be able to turn their vehicle around once they are driving alone. In my early days as an ADI I wouldn't practise in the test area because I didn't want to find myself irritating examiners, but once I started to see numerous messages in the test centre about not practising in particular local roads, I realised it was the residents I would have been irritating, so was pleased I'd made that decision from the off. Just like practising on a whole variety of roads, so too should manoeuvres be practised anywhere suitable, with different types of corners for the left/right reverse, differing widths of road and traffic conditions for the TIR, and any car, anywhere, for the on-road reverse park (and NEVER using the same vehicle for more than 3 attempts). A corner is a corner and a road is a road, wherever it is, so why do manoeuvres need to be practised on the test route?
The 'Traffic Police'!
Then, of course, there's the 'how to drive properly' members of the public. The one that really gets me is when the pupil has parked outside their own home at the end of their lesson. This is where the pupil lives on a side road, not an estate. After you have parked, another driver arrives, parks on the opposite side of the road, just that bit too close so other drivers have to slow right down to get through, and one of these drivers shouts at you, the instructor, 'Call that parking safely?' This one happened to me a few days ago, but has happened on other occasions too. Why is it that these drivers, annoyed they have to slow down, assume it is the learner car who parked second? Does it never occur to them it might be the driver of the other car who caused the situation?
Other drivers thinking they could do the job better!
On one occasion, out with friends in a local pub, a gentleman asked me, "Why don't driving instructors teach their learners how to position correctly to turn right, so the rest of us can get past?" Yes, I'm sure you've had similar questions in social situations! It seems we always come in for the blame, but when ADIs themselves behave badly, including smoking in the car and using a hand-held mobile phone, then it doesn't help our public image at all! And Bluetooth ear pieces, although legal, don't improve our professional image one little bit! Seeing a driving instructor walking around with one of those things stuck in his ear, trying to make himself look so busy and important, is one of my personal irritants.