Diary of a Driving Instructor coping with the Coronavirus
The coronavirus has effected every aspect of life but how has the last couple of weeks changed the life of a driving instructor?
With the worldwide crisis there have been daily changes in what we can and cant do, both personally and with our businesses. There are currently around 43000 Approved Driving Instructors working in the UK and this counts for around half a million pupils at any one time. Ensuring the safety of each instructor and student is of paramount importance.
Around two weeks ago our industry bodies were working with the government with regards to the safety aspects of our jobs. First of all we were all warned to make sure we were showing no symptoms of the virus: dry cough, temperature and shortness of breathe. Like the rest of the population, if we were showing symptoms then we were told to self isolate. We were also asked to ask all our customers if they were showing symptoms. This was just as important as our own health as if one of our customers was infected then for the benefit of the rest of our customers we should cease teaching.
Then very importantly we were asked to make sure our car was wiped regularly with anti bacterial wipes ie before and after each lesson. Importantly we had to ensure that all customers entering the car had clean hands.
At this point we were reasonably sure that our working environment (our tuition vehicle) was a safe place to be.
Although a driving instructors life car be a lonely one, many of us are part of a local driving instructor association and many of us help each other on a daily basis. Keeping this communication between us was of vital importance to relay the most recent and accurate information to instructors in each area of the the country. On a day to day basis we relayed information to each other regarding traffic incidents, test centre information and often catching up over a coffee. These coffee meetings were not taking place at this time so relying on social media and most importantly apps like WhatsApp were vital to keep lines of communication between us open at this time.
Once the government announced that we had to keep 2m away from people in our workplace all driving instructors had to make the extremely difficult decision to stop instructing. I say this was a difficult decision as we all form bonds with our students and understand how important passing their driving tests are. We appreciate many of our students will be going away to university later in the year and want to have their licences before they go. We also understand that some also need the car to get to work and of course we all know how important the freedom of driving gives everyone.
All driving tests have been cancelled for 3 months so even if we could instruct, there is no point at this time.
As instructor we vow to work extra hard when all the restrictions have been lifted to get you all to test asap. Bear with us when we start again as everyone is in the same boat.
And finally, spare a thought for us financially during this time as we are all self employed and have had our income streams completely stripped from us. We certainly don’t become driving instructors to become rich but we need to pay bills and put food on the table too.
Oh and above all, please stay safe at this difficult time. I, for one, will be the first to instruct again when the time is right.
See you all again soon.