Never has my inbox or phone been busier. Busy with people contacting me for some clarity in the current situation. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and how it effects the driving instructor.
Social media is awash with advice, some good some misleading and some downright wrong. Again, we see driving instructor turn on driving instructor. As if the memory of Brexit was still not in our minds and the arguments and nastiness from that has again manifested into our new situation.
We really need to stick together. I have made efforts to speak to other driving schools. Schools that would otherwise in the commercial world be my competitors. Why? Because we are in this together. This is a ‘not normal situation’. I am happy to knock a competitor off their prise spot on Google or gain a new driving instructor, that’s fair competition. I don’t want to lose a competitor because of this virus, it’s not fair competition. That’s why I am keeping some of my competitors in the loop. I suppose its like a boxers fighting and I’m happy to do it wearing gloves, but I’m not prepared to take the gloves off.
The main battles seemed to be around to work or not to work. Some felt it was right not to work, some felt they had to work. The argument not to work was based on, we need to stop so we don’t all die of the disease, those who worked did not want to die of starvation. Yes, I’ve used two extreme examples of the arguments there, but they are the essential root of the problem. Both felt the other should not ell the other what to do. Both had correct opinions. Both felt they were doing right by their families. And there you have it, strong opinions fighting each other.
Vagueness from governing bodies
None of this has helped by the vagueness of the statements and reports from our governing bodies. By this I mean the DVSA and the government. To be factual, things are happening so fast and changing by the hour, nobody really knows what’s going on. Coupled with the fact that as soon as stuff in released, people don’t quote it correctly, rather their own interpretation or opinion. This then gets mis-quoted again. I heard the PM myself say ‘only people who cannot work from home or where their work is essential, can go to work’. Within seconds that was tweeted as only key workers can go to work. (the quotes here are from memory and may not be 100% word perfect)
I have been totally confused and have spent hours looking for facts on each piece of information. As I find something, something else contradicts it. Only today I found an article from Nichola Sturgeon that clearly clarifies the working situation. Those who can work from home must. Those who can work AND do so adhering to social distancing (Working with at least 2 meters between them) must go to work. This clarifies the Chancellor’s statement of employers have a duty to work where they can to keep the country running. It is he says the responsibility of the employer to decide and not the employee. Now driving instructors are each their own employer and employee. But it is clear now, that as it’s impossible to keep a 2M distance apart then not to work.
But I can teach key workers
Ah but what about the key workers? The instructor can keep teaching them. I have heard comments that this is not fair. The risk is the same, I hear. Well yes but it could be argued that the need is greater. A nurse still goes to work even though it might not be possible to keep social distancing. Why? Because the need of the patients is greater. They might die otherwise. Ok back to driving, a key worker needs to learn to driver might be greater than the risk of the infection. I think this is open to interpretation. Does the key worker need to learn to drive to do their job, or to get to work to do that key role? I’m going to guess that there will be very few key workers that would fit that criteria. But those that do fit it, will need lessons and a test, in fact I would go so far to say and intensive course and urgent test. Actually, an intensive course, wouldn’t that minimise the risk? But then a key worker, might they not be at greater risk of the infection and so be a greater risk to the instructor? OMG so many variables. No wonder we all have problems.
For some driving instructors, it hardly seems fair they can’t work yet other trades can. For some trades it hardly seems fair that driving instructors get to stay home while they work. See, that 2-way street again (did you like the pun?)
Its hard but we need to stay home
Whatever your view, the fact is you are now at home, you are not alone, there are 1000’s of driving instructors and even more self-employed people in the same boat. What can you do? Sit at home worrying? Or get on with something? The fact is, we are where we are. Now we need to sit this out but in the meantime what could you do? Is there something you could do to improve yourself? Learn a language, write some theory training material. Do some website SEO?. Or watch Netflix.
What ever you do, do something. Finish something. Buy finishing jobs it gives us completion and helps to eliminate stress. It also keeps our minds of the problems, problems that will be gone sooner than you think.
Dave Foster MA, Dip.DI (or Driving School Dave) is the most qualified driving school owner in the country, after completing his Master’s Degree in Driver Training Education in 2011 at Middlesex University. He also holds a diploma in Driving Instruction and is a Cert Ed. qualified teacher. Dave is the founder and Managing Director of 1st 4 Driving Ltd, and also looks after over 15 driving schools across the country on a consultancy basis.