Getting a driver’s license is regarded as a ceremonious coming-of-age move for many 18-year-olds. But the journey towards getting licenced can cause anxiety. That’s why it’s important to choose an effective driving instructor, whether they’re from a driving centre or operating a private tutorial.
If you go with a driving centre, you need to choose from one of the three official driving centres in Singapore, namely Bukit Batok Driving Centre (BBDC), Comfort DelGro Driving Centre (CDC), and Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC). So how do you choose?
1. Get acquainted with the flow
Apart from the options above, the basic sequence of getting a driver’s licence is straightforward: there’s the theory, then there’s the practical part. Register online or in person at one of the three driving centres for the Singapore Basic Theory Test (BTT). If you pass it, you can obtain a Provisional Driving License (PDL) from the Traffic Police Test Centre—that’s the permission slip for driving students to get behind the wheel in Singapore.
Next, get some practical lessons, either from one of the three driving centres or by sourcing for your own private instructor. Once you’ve accumulated enough practice, take the Final Theory Test (FTT) at the same driving centre.
Pass this, and everything you’ve learned in theory and practice will culminate in the Practical Driving Test (PDT). This will decide whether you get your driver’s license or retake the test.
You may notice that both theory tests must be taken at one of the driving centres so it may make sense to commit yourself to one school from start to finish, including taking up the practical lessons at the school. But since there are three driving centres, finding out which one would suit you best can help you succeed in your journey towards becoming a driver.
2. Compare prices
The overall costs of learning at driving centres are known to be steeper than learning privately, but between driving centres, prices differ slightly, too.
For example, the enrolment fee for SSDC for Class 3C is $174.09 while that of BBDC is $165.85 for a year’s membership. A practical lesson for 120 minutes at SSDC is $77.04 for non-peak hours, while BBDC and CDC both charge $68.48 per 100 mins, making SSDC’s per minute rate cheaper than the other two schools.
As driving centres have a fixed syllabus to follow, students are expected to complete about 20 to 25 practical lessons before they’re allowed to get their PDL and book their Practical Driving Test. In fact, CDC states that “for Class 3, an average of 27 sessions (inclusive of 2 Auto transmission vehicle lessons) may be required to complete your Practical Driving Course.”
Keep in mind that the differences in price can become significant when multiplying the number of lessons you need to take.
3. Look at the stats
Statistics from the Singapore Police Force show that from January to December 2018, BBDC had a 58.7 percent passing rate for first-time Class 3 drivers’ PDT. This was followed by CDC with 53.9 percent and SSDC with 50.1 percent. Class 3A drivers also saw similar statistics with a 67.2 percent passing rate for BBDC, 63.1 percent for CDC, and 58.4 percent for SSDC.
With a lot of money and time riding on the success of this test, students will want to consider the success rates at each driving centre.
4. Choose the most convenient location
Even if you have decided to be a private student, you’ll still be visiting the driving centre to take your theoretical and practical tests.
That means it may be a good idea to simply select the driving centre that is located closest to where you live. Aside from being convenient and helping you save time, this will mean you’ll take your practical exam along a route that you’re more familiar and comfortable with.
As the driving centres are located on opposite ends of Singapore, students are bound to find one that is most convenient in terms of travelling time to and from the centre.
Comfort DelGro works best for eastsiders with centres located at Ubi and Kovan, while Singapore Safety Driving Centre is located at Woodlands Industrial Park. As the name suggests, Bukit Batok Driving Centre is on the west side of Singapore at Bukit Batok West Avenue 5.
5. Pick a strategic location and timing
The different locations of the driving centres in Singapore contribute to this next—and quite important—point. This test is the final hurdle to overcome, and choosing a strategic location, as well as good timing, may help you in getting through successfully to the end.
Students may be inclined to choose their test timing during non-peak hours as there are fewer vehicles on the roads. This means facing fewer distractions when changing lanes, and reducing your anxiety.
During peak hours, roads at Ubi and Bukit Batok are congested, spelling trouble for the nervous first-timer behind the wheel. Nonetheless, usage of bus lanes even during peak hours will leave students with some measure of relief during the test, leaving them with one less thing to worry about.
Also, considering that the industrial area in Woodlands has less traffic, SSDC may be a good option for those who prefer clearer roads to drive on.
6. Check out the reviews
Graduates from SSDC have spoken well of their learning experiences. One user who obtained his 3A license in December 2018 described the centre’s instructors as “friendly, patient and professional”, while another recent graduate wrote that the instructors “taught the course syllabus in a detailed and easy to understand manner”.
Carro, a used-car marketplace, was impressed with BBDC’s state-of-the-art technology and equipment. These included a driving simulator, crash simulator, and risk forecasting for both the driver and pedestrians.
As of January 18, BBDC had an average of 3.9 out of 5 stars from 158 Google reviews. One reviewer called it the “place to go to get a driving licence”.
One CDC student shared online that he had a phobia of motorised vehicles after a freak accident on the road, but managed to gain confidence with the help of her patient instructors at the centre. She says that she learnt “the importance of being an independent, safe and responsible driver and the need to communicate clearly with the other users on the road”.
Driving for the first time ever is both a nerve-wracking and exciting experience. In the hands of competent and effective instructors, though, you’ll learn well enough to pass your theoretical and practical exams.
Once you pass the exam, make sure you stay safe by insuring yourself, your car, and other authorised drivers of your vehicle. Compare different levels of car insurance coverage to decide which policy is best for you.