Quality Driving Lessons
Update on when lessons might restart in view of the pandemic
Latest update: 8 June 2020
As the lockdown eases, and people are going back to work and school, it is understandable that students want to restart lessons again. However, other situations allow people to "socially distance", but driving lessons require the instructor and student to be next to each other, and this is why lessons are not yet restarting.
The advice from the UK Government is far from clear for driving lessons. Precautions are easing to some extent as the virus becomes less widespread, and the industry is tending to the view that lessons can restart around Monday 6th July. However, even then, both student and instructor will need to use protective equipment, including masks and gloves. Also, that all surfaces in the car will need to be disinfected between lessons.
It may be that the start date may be brought earlier or made later, depending on how the national situation develops over the next few weeks. If the virus remains widespread, the date will potentially move later. If the number of cases reduces substantially, I would expect lessons to start again sooner - potentially as soon as 22nd June.
There is an exception for essential or key workers, who need to learn to drive in order to carry out essential or key services. This includes people working in health/social care, education / childcare, government, food / necessary goods, public safety / security, transport and utilities etc.
In the meantime, recent changes by the government have relaxed the advice about journeys, and this would seem to allow students to practice in their own vehicles (for necessary journeys). They obviously need to be accompanied - that this needs to be a member of their family / household (who is over 21 and has held a full driving licence for more than 3 years).
The other area is the availability of Theory tests and Practical driving tests. These have both been cancelled and postponed and while they are supposedly available to key workers, my experience is that even this is not yet happening. So when they do restart, there will be a backlog of 3 months in addition to the waiting list before this all started. In addition, it may be that availability of tests will be limited when they do restart, whether due to the need to socially distance, or because some examiners consider themselves to be high risk, and are therefore self-isolating.
While I understand that my students will want to get started again as soon as possible, there are a number of reasons why I feel we should wait:
a) Even if neither my students nor me are "high risk" to catch the virus, the closeness of a driving lesson makes it likely that if any one person becomes contagious, it will spread to everyone else - and potentially then to members of their family / household etc.
b) If any student is tested positive for Covid-19, contact tracing will potentially identify me and my other students as having coming into contact, and this is likely to result in a requirement to self-quarantine for 14 days.
c) Even when lessons restart, there is going to be a significant backlog for Theory tests and Practical tests, caused by the delay of 3 months, plus any reduction in capacity going forwards, compounded by the 2-3 month delay which existed before the pandemic started, so it seems that there will be no rush to get to test standard unless cancellations become available.
I will be contacting all my current students regularly over the next weeks, to establish any key workers, any others who wish to restart urgently for any reason, and general availability, bearing in mind reopening of schools and colleges and places of work.
When lessons do restart, I will need to take reasonable precautions, along the following lines:
1. Face masks will be important and should be worn by both instructor and student. Students should provide their own, but I will have some available if not.
2. Students will need to confirm that neither they nor any of their household has tested positive or shown symptoms of COVID before starting the lesson.
3. Students should wash their hands immediately before the lesson. If this is not possible, hand sanitiser and/or gloves can be used.
4. All touch-points in the car will be disinfected/wiped down between lessons, including door handles. Training aids will also be disinfected, and will not be passed to the student.
5. Windows in the car to be open slightly to ensure the inside of the car is kept well ventilated, unless weather conditions make this impractical.
Students need to read and agree to these precautions before resuming lessons.
These precautions will be reviewed regularly and adjusted where appropriate, particularly where Government Health Guidelines apply.