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Drive bogus instructors off the road; PLEA: Learners urged to shop unqualified tutors who illegally offer lessons on the cheap.

Byline: By Alan Harris

LEARNER drivers are being warned about unqualified driving instructors operating in the city.

The warning comes from Coventry driving instructor Terry Pearce, who wants learner drivers to "shop" unqualified tutors who offer driving lessons on the cheap.

Mr Pearce, who is chairman of the Coventry branch of the Professional Driving Instructors' Association, said: "We are very concerned about illegal driving instructors in the city and that people are being ripped off.

"If they're going with someone who is not qualified, their skill level is not checked.

"They're getting cheap lessons but they may be taking twice as long to pass their test.

"I don't think they realise the potential dangers and the potential long-term cost.

"It's a big concern."

The average cost of a driving lesson is pounds 23.

Under driving laws, it is illegal for an unqualified instructor to charge for lessons.

But Mr Pearce claims the unqualified instructors are asking learner drivers not to reveal they are paying for lessons.

Learners can check their instructors are qualified by looking for a green or pink badge on display in the car, confirming approval by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).

Mr Pearce, aged 57, of Brownshill Green Road, Coventry, said he had discussed the problem with the DSA this week.

He is urging all learners to report any bogus instructors charging them for lessons.

He said: "Just sticking a headboard on a car does not make them a legal instructor."

He added: "It's very rare to get people to come forward and speak out against an illegal instructor but that's we want them to do.

"Our qualified instructors are concerned about their livelihoods and people's safety on the road."

Anyone wishing to report suspected illegal instructors can contact the DSA fraud and integrity team on 02920 581290 or e-mail integrity.team@dsa.gsi.gov.uk

REGISTRATION A MUST

It is an offence to provide driving instruction for money unless qualified and registered with the DSA.

All DSA-registered instructors must display a badge when teaching and carry the correct insurance for their car, which covers pupils.

There are two types of badge - a pink triangle meaning the instructor has one more exam to take to complete their training and a green octagonal one for a fully qualified instructor.

All badges carry the instructor's photo and an expiry date.

Any person found to be practising illegally can be charged with fraud, obtaining money by deception and operating a vehicle outside the terms of its insurance.

CAPTION(S):

PROBLEM... Terry Pearce.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 4, 2007
Words:422
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