It starts to snow, so what are your first thoughts?
- I will have to contact my pupils to cancel their driving lessons?
- All my pupil’s driving tests are going to be cancelled?
- How much money am I going to lose, and how much is this going to cost me in lost revenue?
- How am I going to pay my bills?
- How am I going to pay my mortgage?
- How am I going to make my car/franchise payments?
- How can I now afford to get the things I promised my kids for Christmas?
- How long is this weather going to last?
- When will I be able to start taking pupils out again?
These are just a small sample of the questions which go through most driving instructors minds at the first sign of snow or icy weather.
And for the majority of instructors this is a major headache. Not many people enjoy driving in wintry conditions, and those that do can be quite reckless and put not only themselves, but other road-users at risk too.
Some instructors get very selective about which pupils to take for a driving lesson. That’s fine but remember if the wintry conditions are prolonged then it could cost the instructor a substantial amount of money in loss of earnings.
Of course, as responsible driving instructors and actually the people at the ‘coal face’ so to speak, then you will understandably be selective of which pupils we elected to take out.
It doesn’t help when the media warns motorists not to drive in adverse weather conditions unless the journey is absolutely necessary. This is good common sense. But at the same time the same media accuses driving instructors of only teaching people to ‘Pass the Driving Test’.
The responsibility of a driving instructor is to teach people to ‘drive’ and all that this entails. So pupils can be taken out in the fog, high winds, ice and snow, which is all the things through which the driving test may be cancelled. You also take pupils on country roads, through shallow fords, main roads, dual-carriageways and other situations which they may not necessarily experience on their driving test.
So why do so many instructors cancel driving lessons at the first sign of ice or snow, is it because the media tells you so?
What happens next year after your pupil has now passed their test and they do have an ‘essential journey’ to make in these same types of conditions? Perhaps they have to get their sick child or a relative to hospital where time is of the essence and they cannot afford to wait for an ambulance. Imagine having to drive under this stress in addition to having to drive in the snow for the first time without having had any previous advice or experience. How safe do you think they and their passengers will be?
Of course it’s possible that many instructors may not have had very much experience of, or avoid driving in snow and icy conditions let alone teaching learner drivers. But this could be costing you lost revenue.
Except for exceptional circumstances, such as either not being able to get to or back from your pupils address, we recommend you always tell the pupil that as long as you can get from your house to their house then the lesson will proceed and concentrate on how to drive safely and cope with adverse weather conditions.
Please remember when you pick up a pupil for their driving lesson in the snow or ice, make sure that you give them an in-depth briefing on what they will or may experience and precisely what they need to do in any given situation. Have handouts covering all the same aspects to give to your pupils, reminding them to keep it somewhere safe for next year when they will be out there on their own.
Obviously it may be advisable to not take out pupils who are either erratic or in the very early stages of their driving lessons. But we recommend you should still go through the theory of driving in the snow and ice and give them a handout.