Affectionately known to his students as Uncle Joe, Joe Bangudu has helped hundreds of new drivers pass their theory and practical tests across Manchester and the surrounding areas. In this interview, we find out how his driving school is doing things differently whilst also gaining vital tips for life behind the wheel after he has helped you achieve your licence.
What made you choose to become a driving instructor?
I learned how to drive at 17, and soon realised I have a flare and passion for driving. I also like to teach. Thus, teaching people how to drive comes easily to me. There is an unexplainable joy when my student passes the practical test. I feel fulfilled when this happens and from the number of testimonials I have received you will appreciate I have felt this happiness many number of times!
From your previous experience working at some of the biggest companies in the industry, can you tell us what makes your approach different?
I tailor my teaching skills to each and every student knowing that we all learn in different ways. You can say I offer bespoke services. My students feel more at home, relaxed and listened to which itself is invaluable. Although some companies will deny it, big companies typically consider students to be “a number”. My service steps away from that culture.
What other benefits does a new driver receive by choosing you as their instructor?
You get to learn in a clean and relatively new car. Students receive support with online resources to help prepare and pass their theory test. For those who are ready for their test, I also offer quick and early test dates and time without necessarily waiting for long periods. Test dates are infamous for having unavoidably long waiting lists of up to three to four months in some cases. I tend to go out of my way to get an earlier date by acquiring cancellation slots for my students.
What are the biggest challenges of driving in Manchester and the surrounding areas?
From my personal experience, I would say other road users. Bus drivers, truck drivers, van drivers, cyclists and pedestrians form a challenge one way or the other. In Manchester, the further north you go these challenges become more apparent and are increasingly difficult to deal with – especially when teaching students who are nervous. Generally speaking, it might be just one of the reasons why pass rates seem to be lower in the north of Manchester. I stand to be corrected on this one! But yes, city centre driving comes with its own peculiar challenges, least to say.
What is the biggest piece of advice you could offer to new drivers?
Patience is a virtue which needs to be the main bane for any new driver. I would advocate some motorway lessons for the newly qualified drivers, especially if they commute to work or have travel plans in the near future. Get to know your new car very well. Use P Plates in the early days if you have to. More importantly, be aware of the New Driver’s Act which states your licence will be revoked if you accrue six point or more within the first two years of passing your test. Not only will you have to do both the theory and practical tests again but you will also suffer increased insurance premium as a previously banned driver. The consequences are colossal.
What has been the most rewarding moment of your career as a driving instructor so far?
A few moments come to mind. I have been privileged to be interviewed by Sky News after the driving school was rated as one of the best three businesses in 2019. I think the best would be the fact that I have been shortlisted as one of the most intelligent driving instructors of the year. I get to find out if I have been successful in October at the National Conference for Driving Instructors which is our industry’s version of the Oscars!