Driving instructors

I Was A Driving Instructor For Eight Years…I Was An Agony Aunt And Had To Deal With Drunk, Aggy And Sweaty Students

IF YOU have a driver’s license, you’ll probably remember your driving instructor and what it was like to learn to drive.

You might think being a driving instructor is a pretty simple job, but it turns out there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about.


Katie Austin has been a driving instructor for eight years and has dealt with a variety of interesting students1 credit

Katie Austin, 33, a mother of two from Tatsfield, Surrey, was a driving instructor for eight years and taught thousands of school children how to drive.

She was an instructor based in Bromley, South East London and was just 23 when she started teaching.

Katie trained as a driving instructor while pregnant with her first child and as a single mother worked very long days to make ends meet.

Now, ten years later, Katie is a small business owner and tells Fabulous what it was like to be behind the wheel for a living.

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And if you think it’s a simple job, you’re dead wrong – Katie explained that she had to deal with near misses, distraught pupils, furious learners at the wheel and even angry parents.

Not only that, Katie was seen by her students as an Agony Aunt, with many telling her their life story, with one girl even revealing to her that she was gay during a lesson.

Katie told Fabulous: “Pupils would get attached to me. I was a pure agony aunt. I’ve been told so much gossip. I’ve made some really great friendships with people and they trust you and they end up telling you things you probably shouldn’t know.

“I had a daughter who came out as a lesbian and she didn’t tell anyone. What’s even funnier, she had a boyfriend and I taught her too. He told me she was distant and of course I knew why.

As a single mother, Katie’s job was her livelihood and she wanted to prove to herself and others that she could be successful.

She said, “I was teaching six or seven students a day. When my daughter was in nursery school, I worked from 9 am to 12 pm, then I dropped her off at my mother’s house at 4 pm, and I worked from 4 pm to 11 pm in the evening. With some guys I worked until midnight. I also worked on weekends to earn money.

“I had no choice, I was a single mother. I had to transplant. I had the rent and a car to pay.

But it wasn’t just the long hours that Katie had to deal with – Katie had a variety of difficult students who regularly tested her patience.

She explained, “I had to kick students out of the car. I had to finish teaching the students first.

“I had a student, I would show up to his class and just sit there waiting, call him and nothing. I would sit outside his house and 20 minutes later he would stagger out of his house.

“He got in the car and smelled of alcohol. It was only 10 a.m. I had to take the breathalyzer and it was way over the limit. I had to get him out of my car.

“Another guy had an absolutely disgusting attitude. He would book a lesson and not show up. He thought I was a taxi – it’s happened many times. Many students thought I was a taxi service.

The students became attached to me. I was a pure agony aunt. I’ve been told so much gossip.

Katie Austin

“I had to ask a boy out of my car during class because he was so rude. He had four or five lessons and he thought he knew better. He was like ‘no, my previous teacher m ‘said this, my teacher told me that, I know how to do that’.

“I tried to explain to him how to use the clutch and the throttle and he thought he knew and wasn’t listening. At the end, I had to say ‘Listen, if you’re not going to listen to me, can you just go out?’. And then I never saw him again.

If you’ve ever learned to drive before, chances are you would have been very nervous. But not all of Katie’s students were like that.

Katie revealed that one of her pupils had severe road rage and would even swear at drivers if they tried to overtake.

Katie explained: “I had a daughter, I had a really nice relationship with her. But she had really bad road rage. She got passed at a roundabout and straight away she had middle finger raised, through the window.

“She held her horn down. She was yelling at people. She would try to pass. I really had to put my arms down and tell him to calm down. Most are really nervous learners, but you get the weirdo that is Billy Big B***s.

“The younger ones would get in the car and think they would be child prodigies right away.”

And there was more than student road rage that Katie had to deal with. A student Katie taught simply couldn’t master driving and eventually pressured Katie to surrender her license and quit her job.

Katie continued: “I taught this guy. I loved him so much but he was useless. He was absolutely shocking, probably the worst driver I have ever had. It was horrible.

“He had already taken lessons with another teacher before me. In total, he had about 60-70 lessons with me, then he went to learn automatics with my friend.

“As far as I know it had been going on for about a year. He would have had over 150 lessons. It was horrible.

“He never reached the testing standard. He was the worst driver. He was one of the reasons I quit. It was horrible.

“I would get in the car at the start of the lesson and tell him to start the car, he would try to start the car and keep stalling. Over and over again.

“He would get so stressed that he would end up turning bright red and sweating. I should tell him to calm down and take five minutes. At this point, we still haven’t moved, we were still in front of his house. It got to the point where I had to help him and get him going.

“Then ten minutes later we were coming to the traffic lights and sheer panic was setting in. It indicated, stopped and stalled.

“He had very heavy feet and very heavy hands. I told him about four times, ‘I think you should learn automatics’, but he wouldn’t.

“He was adamant he was going to stick with it. I dreaded every lesson. It was like a child driving a car, it was awful. He just couldn’t understand. I would tell him to shift into second gear and he would shift into fifth. It was horrible.

It was an emergency stop like I had never experienced before. The car behind us almost hit us and of course beeped us.

Katie Austin

“I was almost six months pregnant with my son and we approached a roundabout and so I said ‘right foot on the brake’. Instead he slammed his left foot on the This left foot is used for the clutch and when it is accidentally put on the brake, it is terrifying. It is agony.

“It was an emergency stop like I had never experienced before. The car behind us almost hit us and of course beeped us. My seatbelt locked, I had a line all the way down my neck and a mark on my hip and that’s when I thought enough was enough and I had to stop.

“I told him I didn’t want to see him again and that was his last lesson with me. It was really bad. He was the worst student I ever had in my life. It was my end point, I had to pack my bags then.

And that wasn’t the only scary experience for Katie – one of her students even tried to drive around a roundabout the wrong way.

She explained: “Once a student tried to drive around the roundabout the wrong way. We approached the roundabout, I told him to take the third exit.

“He indicated he was right because he was going to take the third exit, but for some reason he started to pull away in the wrong direction. I had less than a second to take the wheel from him. .

Although these experiences were terrifying and put Katie off teaching, surprisingly she explained that she had never had an accident before.

She continued: “As a driving instructor, you need to be able to control the car, even better than you normally would, while sitting in the passenger seat.

“So I never had a crash, but I had to get behind the wheel and take a break every day. There were so many times that we almost could have crashed.

“But luckily I was able to get the car back in less than a second. My students would never have been in danger because I could control the car. I would just reach out and grab the steering wheel.

When asked what the worst part of the job was, Katie struggled to think. Although she had dealt with some strange students, her overall experience had been very positive. However, there was one student’s parent that stuck in his mind.

Katie added: ‘The worst part of the job is when you know someone is capable of succeeding and they fail. It’s disgusting.

“I had a daughter and when it came to her exam there was a fatal accident and they closed the road. The only way for me to get to her test was through country roads, which which was another 20-25 minutes. Then there was a diversion because there was another crash. It was all over the news at the time.

“I arrived at his lesson 15 minutes before the start of the test. There was no time. I took her to the test, she took the test and then failed. I went upstairs and talked to her mother and told her what she had failed, and she went crazy.

“She was in my face saying ‘I know she’s not the one driving, you’re responsible for her, I saw her driving, I know she’s a good driver, you’re the f* *king c**t.’ She was screaming at me I was terrified I called someone I worked with and I was crying on the phone.

Katie finally gave up her job as an instructor after a student nearly crashed while she was six months pregnant with her son


Katie finally gave up her job as an instructor after a student nearly crashed while she was six months pregnant with her son1 credit