ONE in nine driving instructors have left the profession in mid and south Cheshire over the past eight years.

Figures from the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicles Standard Agency (DVSA) show there were 183 approved driving instructors (ADIs) in the CW postcode area in June.

The CW area includes Northwich, Winsford, Middlewich and Holmes Chapel, as well as towns such as Crewe, Nantwich, Sandbach and Congleton.

This was 12 per cent fewer than the 207 in June 2012, the earliest year figures are available.

Across Great Britain, the number of instructors has fallen from 46,276 to 38,690 over this period – a drop of 16 per cent.

The Approved Driving Instructors National Joint Council says the decline in numbers could be linked to the effects of the 2008 recession.

Sue Duncan, general secretary of the organisation, said training companies took advantage of this time to attract new drivers to the industry – particularly those with lump-sum redundancy money and an interest in being self-employed.

She says this created what many felt was an 'oversupply' of ADIs, with numbers peaking around 47,000.

Sue added: "The business model was making money from training ADIs, but there wasn't the work available to sustain continually increasing numbers of ADIs so many left.

"In our view, subsequently many left the industry after having to lower prices in order to compete in a crowded market.

"What we have seen in the reduction in the numbers of ADIs is the market readjusting itself."

She said many instructors may have retired instead of retraining to teach the challenging coaching method introduced by the DVSA.

Some may also have been reluctant to increase prices to keep up with rising vehicle and insurance costs.

The number of instructors across Great Britain has also decreased slightly during the coronavirus pandemic this year, from 39,500 in March to 38,700 in June.

In the CW postcode area, numbers fell from 184 to 183 over this time.

Peter Harvey, national chairman of the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic and the lengthy time driving instructors were not allowed to work has had a big impact on our profession.

"Many instructors had to look for other ways to bring in an income to support their families, many have just decided it's just too risky to sit in an environment where we are so close to our students and simply decided to retire early from the profession.

"We are now in uncertain times again across the country, with the possible threat of further lockdowns, circuit-breaks, where it is possible even more good instructors will feel the need to change professions to survive."

A DVSA spokesman said: “DVSA is committed to helping keep everyone safe on Britain’s roads – the standards we set for driving instructors play an important role in that.

“Applications from people wanting to become a driving instructor have nearly doubled recently and we are confident there is a good supply to teach learner drivers to the highest standard."