Over the years that I’ve been a driving instructor I’ve had lots of crazy things happen both on lessons and on tests. On this page I’m going to share some of my funny driving lesson stories with you. Most of these happened to me but some are stories I’ve heard about from other instructors.
Sometimes instructors can be a bit grumpy or short tempered for lesson. I hope when you see what we go through on a daily basis you will start to see why.
The dates, names of people and places have been changed to avoid any embarrassment!
Instructors became suspicious at one test centre in the UK when examiners were returning from tests after being out for only 10 minutes. An investigation was launched and it was discovered that the examiners had been rushing back to take part in a darts tournament they had going on in the back room. All the examiners were sacked and pupils that had passed their test with them had their licences revoked and had to sit another test.
Salute as you steer
I had a pupil once with a really strange problem. Every time we went around a corner he had to salute, just like in the picture below. Yes that’s right, he’d take one hand off the wheel and put it on his forehead, causing him to lose control on every turn.
I asked him why he kept doing it and he said he wasn’t yet time after time he’d salute on every corner. I took him for a test and said he’d be fine if he just stopped saluting. The examiner walked back in to the test centre after and burst into laughter. He saluted and could hardly stand up because he was laughing that much. He couldn’t even speak but I knew what had happened on the test. The examiner did a few salutes and went into the back room, crippled with laughter.
Worst driving tests ever
This honour goes to Ms.Park from Guildford. She turned up for her 5th driving test and got off to a terrible start by driving straight into the river Wye. The car sank, she swam ashore and the examiner, who could not swim, crawled onto the roof of the vehicle screaming for help. After asking whether she’d passed they told her they’d have to wait until the examiner had recovered from shock before he could announce the decision.
A Mrs.Ireland also is worthy of a mention. She accidentally drove the car straight though the test centre, demolishing the building. A similar thing happened at the Kings Heath test centre in Birmingham in 2010. Someone out shopping on a motability scooter chose the wrong gear and smashed through the window by the entrance.
Dodgy examiner and instructor scam
On February 20th 2013, Police in London arrested a driving test examiner along with several instructors who had been offering pupils a guaranteed pass in return for £3000.
Even if you had 50 hours of lessons and 3 tests it would cost just over £1000, why pay £3000?
An examiner was working at a different test centre to usual. His colleagues started to get concerned when after an hour after starting a test he still hadn’t returned. An hour and a half passed, two hours….
The examiner and pupil arrived back at the test centre in a taxi. They had gotten completely lost and said to the instructor that he was sorry but he had no idea where his car was.
Worst conditions for driving lessons
I’ve had a few extreme moments when teaching people to drive. As you can see from my video below, I have been through floods with pupils, done lessons in snow that was 2 feet deep. I’ve taught in temperatures as low as -8 and as high as 40 degrees (according to the cars temperature gauge).
My most extreme moment without doubt came in 2005 when I actually drove through a tornado with a pupil! Search on Google for “Birmingham tornado” and you can see some news stories about how it ripped the roof off Iceland in Kings Heath. I was surprised it never pulled the roof sign off.
Speed camera bonus points scheme
A pupil of mine kept accelerating whenever he was coming up to a speed camera and I was always having to brake and tell him to slow down. When I got sick of it I pulled him over and asked him why he kept trying to speed past a speed camera. You won’t believe what he said…
“My mate said that if you speed through those cameras the police send you photos of you going fast to prove you can drive well along with bonus points. You can use those points to get money off your insurance”.
A gift for passing
A pupil of mine passed his driving test first time and I drove him back home. When we got there his granddad was waiting to meet him and said he had a surprise. He handed my pupils some keys – keys to a brand new car he had bought him. This wasn’t just any car either, it was a Mercedes-Benz worth £25,000. That was good enough but then he handed him another set of keys. Those were for a house he had fully paid for so his grandson never had to worry about a mortgage. That was one lucky pupil!
Some test centres don’t have toilets which is really bad because many people get nervous just before a test. Before I was a driving instructor I was a delivery driver. I used to deliver those blue roller towels that you get in toilets. You know the ones that you pull and they spin round? When I was at Kings Heath test centre in Birmingham I saw a blue towel through a back window.
“That’s odd” I thought. I they have one of those towels then that they probably have a toilet out the back. I asked an examiner if they had a toilet out the back and he said yes but pupils aren’t allowed to use it. The answer he gave was so stupid I had to laugh but he took it very seriously.
“That’s a government toilet so members of the public aren’t insured to use it. If they slip over in there or hurt themselves while walking through the office to get to it then they could sue us.”
One of my pupils summed this up in the best way possible by saying “If someone is about to demonstrate their ability to drive a car, which is a lethal killing machine, I should hope they’d be able to manage using a toilet.”
Funny driving lesson advert
A female only driving school put up an advert online that was meant to say “Learn to drive with the UK’s largest female only driving school”. Because of the 45 character limit on text it actually read “Learn to drive with the UK’s largest female”.
A driving instructor trainer turned up at a test centre with his pupil who was about to take an advanced driving test. He got out the car, walked up to the test centre and then noticed that his pupil was still sitting in the car.
He went back to the car and the pupil had locked themselves in. They were so scared that they were screaming and saying they couldn’t do it and they wanted to quit. They refused to open the car and we had to go and get the examiner to come out and talk to her through the window to convince her it wasn’t really that bad. 15 minutes later she finally unlocked the door and said she didn’t want to be an instructor anymore.
I had a pupil who was taking a maths degree because he wanted to go into accounting. At the time I was charging £18 an hour and on this occasion we’d had a 90 minute lesson so he asked how much it was. “It’s just £18 plus half” I said. “What’s that though?” he asked. “Well you’re the one doing the maths degree, what’s half of 18 plus 18?” I asked.
He was puzzled and just couldn’t work it out. Out came his iPhone out and after a minute of bashing away on the calculator he’d worked it out. He came up with £11.32.
A video about a crazy driving instructor
Batman’s driving lessons
I had a new pupil email me and I thought it was a wind up from the start because his name was Robin and he lived on Batemans lane. Bateman and Robin? It had to be a joke but I went to do the lesson anyway.
After finding Batemans lane easily I just couldn’t find the house because it’s a long country lane where the houses have names rather than numbers. I rang the number given to me and a woman answered. The conversation went like this…
“Hi this is Paul. I’m trying to find your house for your sons driving lesson but I can’t see it so can you wait outside for me?”
“What do you mean, you just left?”
“I’ve never been there before, I’m trying to find it.”
“Never been here before? You’ve been coming here months, I just spoke to you!”
“I’ve never met you before, this is the first lesson. You sent me £200 through for lessons”
“What? £200? This is Paul from that 1st school isn’t it?”
“Yes that’s me”
“I haven’t sent you any money! If I have I want it back!
“Look I know this is a wind up. Robin wants lessons, well why doesn’t he bring along Batman and I can teach him in the Batmobile”
“What are you talking about???”
I put the phone down. I couldn’t understand why someone would pay £200 up front just for a joke but something funny was going on. It was only next week that I found out what had happened in an email from this person.
Their son was called Robin and he’d been having lessons with a man called Paul from a school with a very similar name. Robin had fallen out with the instructor and sent me £200 from his mom’s credit card without her permission. He planned on meeting me down the road but hadn’t been able to sneak out the house when his mom had taken that day off work.
Test centre? Which test centre?
I had a pupil that lived on the same road that the test centre is on in Kings Heath. In fact they were next door to it and from the first ever lesson i commented on how he could just walk home after taking his driving test. We did all the lessons around that area and two mock tests from that test centre. Then came the day of his test…
We drove around for an hour and ended back outside the test centre. “What are we doing here then?” he asked. I thought he’d forgotten that it was the day of his test so I answered “Well….it’s your test isn’t it?”. He answered with “Oh yes but I booked it in Scotland instead because they had them two days earlier there. It’s Ok, we’ve got 5 minutes before it starts.”
The right of way
A driving instructor in Denmark was giving a lesson when they got to a narrow bridge and a car was coming towards them. Both cars stopped and neither of them wanted to go first. The instructor got a baseball bat out of his boot and smashed the other car until the police came. He lost his job.
Tyre change tantrum
I had just finished a mock test with a pupil when they pulled up too close to the kerb and blew the tyre up. We got out and had a look at it and were just about to change it when….
A man came out of the house that we had pulled up outside and he was in a rage. “I hate learners, you’re useless. You ain’t got a clue” he said. He went to the back of the car, opened the boot, got the spare tyre out, changed the damaged tyre for us and then walked back into his house. We hadn’t asked him to and he never said anything throughout other than cursing learners. Although we were glad he changed the tyre, we had no idea why!
Meeting the public
I’ve had several times over the years when people have come up to my car. Here are some of the more memorable ones…
Territorial driving instructor
We pulled up to do a reverse around the corner and as soon as we stopped we noticed that another learner was using that corner. “Let’s find another corner” I said. Before we could move, the instructor from this other learner car had jumped out and was running towards us. He pulled my door open and said that he owned this road and nobody else has the right to drive on it. He shouted a load of abuse at me and my learner before slamming the door and running back to his learner. Unsurprisingly, this instructor only lasted a few weeks before going bust and was never seen again.
Nowhere to park
On another occasion we had pulled up on the Warstock road in south Birmingham. It’s a wide, quiet road with room for about 300 cars in a row to park. You can see this road by clicking here. There was room behind and ahead of us for as far as you could see but a car pulled up behind us and started flashing his lights. We wondered what he was doing and then he got out and came up to our car, punching the door and kicking it. He shouted “MOVE, THIS IS MY SPACE!!! YOU’RE IN MY SPACE!!”. “But there are spaces everywhere?” I said. He returned to the car and drove off waving his arms around in circles over his head all down the road.
Look in your mirrors…
We were emerging from a junction and the car behind us moved off so quickly that he drove straight into the back of us. What was really funny was that when I looked at my car there was no damage at all, not even a mark! The other car hadn’t been so lucky though. The front bumper was hanging off, oil was leaking out onto the road and it was just a mangled mess. The idiot driving this car was furious because he’d spent so much money putting stupid spoilers and stickers all over it. He was getting very aggressive and starting to make threats.
It’s a shame he hadn’t looked in his mirrors more before hitting us because right behind him was a police van. When he started getting violent the officers got out and walked up behind him. He looked very surprised as they all grabbed him! It turns out he had no insurance or licence yet he still blamed the accident on us saying that we’d stalled as we moved off. We hadn’t stalled and even if we had he’d still driven into the back of us. In the end he paid for all the damage.
Just minutes after starting a test the examiner started walking back up to the test centre. Here’s what the examiner said when he got to the instructor…
“I asked your pupil to move off and she said she hadn’t covered that topic yet. After moving she said she hadn’t done how to change gears yet. At the end of the road I asked her to turn left and she then crashed into a parked car and said she hadn’t turned any corners before.”
I can’t imagine what they were doing on lessons or what they were thinking taking the pupil for a test.
Terrible places to start lessons
Choosing an area that matches a pupils ability is a vital skill for anyone teaching learners. Some people just don’t get it.
I had a new pupil who had only ever been taught to move off by her dad to help her get a head start on lessons. I asked where she had started and she was trying to describe it. “It’s a wide road and everyone was going the same way. There was a big line down the left hand side”. I jokingly replied that it sounded like a motorway to which she replied “Oh yeah that was it, the motorway. He said nobody ever uses that lane on the left so we’d be safe there”.
Another pupil of mine had told her last instructor that she had never driven before. The first thing he got her to do was to move off from a bus stop by a roundabout called the Maypole. It’s one of the biggest and nastiest roundabouts in the area as you can see from the photo below. Obviously she wasn’t ready for this roundabout yet and she wrote the car off by crashing into someone on the roundabout. The instructor was angry and said it was easy and she should have been able to do it.
Not the best place to start your first ever lesson!
Forget me not
A girl came to me for lessons once and although she had never driven before it all went well. I had an email later that day that surprised me though, she said she wasn’t happy with the standard of teaching and wanted someone who could teach better. She also wanted a hand written letter at the end of every lesson and was disappointed I hadn’t done one. Oh well, never mind…..
5 years later I had an email from this girl which said the following. “I hope you can help me. I have had lessons now for 5 years and i have been to every other school in Birmingham but none of them are teaching properly and none of them will write me a letter after each lessons telling me how I’m doing. You’re my last hope so I really hope you can help”.
I replied saying that she had already tried lessons with me and if she’d kept learning with me she would have got it all done 4 and a half years ago! I never heard back so i suppose she is still going around all the schools looking for someone to write her letters.
Emergency stops that went wrong
The emergency stop always has lots of potential for disaster and mayhem. Here are just a few examples.
- In the old bike test they used to ask the pupil to drive up the road, turn around and then drive towards them. The examiner would jump out and shout STOP! at which point the pupil would perform an emergency stop. On one such test the examiner saw the pupil returning down the road so he jumped out and shouted for him to stop. Unfortunately it wasn’t the learner biker but someone who looked identical. The examiner was flattened.
- A pupil did an emergency stop on his test but the examiners seat belt wasn’t working properly. The examiners head smashed on the windscreen knocking him out cold and the learner had to drive back to the test centre alone to get help. This was before the days of mobile phones.
- I was doing a lesson once when we saw an instructor put their hand up and shout stop to the pupil. They’d just driven past a junction from which a car was emerging and as the instructor said “stop!” and the pupil braked, this car coming out of the junction went straight into them.
So close yet so far
A pupil was on his way back at the end of his test. They were 50 feet from the entrance to the test centre. The car beeped once to warn that the last gallon of fuel had been reached, meaning the car had at least 40 miles of fuel left in it.
The examiner asked the pupil to pull over and said the test would have to be abandoned. The reason given was that they could be involved in a crash if the car cut out due to a lack of fuel when turning into the test centre, 50 feet away. I drove the pupil back home and then drove myself home and the car still had 30+ miles of fuel left.
Most number of driving tests
Mrs.Hargrave failed her driving test 39 times. She had 212 driving lessons over 8 years. She passed on her 40th attempt and said she was disappointed to have passed and still didn’t like turning right.
Mrs. Sa-soon holds took most theory test attempts. She passed on her 950th.
A female pupil of mine started lessons from her husbands house but always finished at different locations around Birmingham. When I asked her why she said that they were where all her different boyfriends lived but could I please not tell her husband.
Mr. Brake pedal
I had a new pupil booked in who was a friend of someone I was teaching. When I was on the way to pick her up she sent a text asking me if she could dress up as an Eskimo for the lesson. I knew straight away that she was going to be crazy but nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow. Some of the things she did were so mad that I don’t even want to think about them but here are some of the highlights of her lesson.
She came out in her eskimo outfit, complete with huge boots and told me that she liked dressing up. We swapped seats and were at the side of the road talking about what we were going to do today when she opened the window and spat at a car coming towards us. She said she’d done it because she didn’t like the colour of it. When another learner drove past us she got out, put her thumbs in her ears and stuck her tongue out at the learner because she didn’t like other learners.
It was after asking her about how to brake that it really got bad. She broke into song: “Mr. brake pedal is wonderful, he keeps us from harm and keeps us safe”. She was clearly ill and in need of urgent help and here she was booked in for a lesson with me.
When we got back to her house there was another instructor waiting outside. I commented that someone else by her was having lessons. She answered with “Oh no, that’s my other instructor. I’ve got 3 at the moment because I like to drive different cars and whenever I have a lessons with one they never come back and I have to keep finding new ones.”. She got out and walked away singing the Mr.Brake pedal song. The other instructor had a look of despair on his face and and I felt really sorry for him as I drove off.
Stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked
It’s great when pupils ask questions but sometimes you have to wonder what kind of answer they were expecting…
- Do I have to open the bonnet and show them where the oil goes while the car is moving?
- What do you do for a living?
- Can you drive yourself or do you just teach people to drive?
- How long do the batteries last in cats eyes?
Funniest emails I’ve ever had
- I’m a girl who is having driving lessons at the moment. My instructor keeps getting distracted because I have a very large chest. I need someone who can keep their eyes on the road and not let it distract them.
- My husband wants to be a driving instructor but he like racing bikes on the motorway. He has 18 points on his licence and is banned for 2 years. Will that matter?
- My fence blew down at the weekend, can you guys come and fix it?
- I want driving lessons but I don’t want to risk my friends seeing me on the road. Can you bring the car inside my house and we drive indoors until I get the hang of it?
- I just wanted to say that I don’t want any lessons but thanks. (I’d never met or spoken to this person, this was their first email)
- Hi this is Emma who had a first lesson with you today. I’m sorry but I don’t want any more lessons because I don’t like the design of your alloy wheels. It’s obvious that you’re never going to let me crash the car so learning with you will be no fun.
- I am the night slasher and I roam the streets at night slashing people with my knives. I want lessons so I can do more people in one night.
Here’s my favourite email. The subject was “My old house”
In my old house somebody took drug over does in my room. My old house used to be haunted my room somebody died on a drug over. I used to voices and it was deep voice. I always there voices came from. So I got used it but I had lights on at night. My granddad wallet went mission and we found it about six yrs later behind a old brick fireplace unit and two put it there you would have to take the complete top of which would have to take to people.