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An instructor's view of the PaceNotes app

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors, Driving test, Feature, Learning to drive

person holiding phone showing pace notes app

Hi, I’m Chris Bensted from Better Driver Training. As both an ADI and co-owner of the multi-car driving school I have 2 main areas of focus, my pupils and my business. I have been using the app for a couple of months. It appealed to me as I could use it to help my pupils and I could use it to promote my business.. It is also easy to use and simple in design.

 How it’s helped my pupils

We know that experience is key to success, all the studies and statistics support this.

PaceNotes allows me to encourage and support my pupils with their private practice while helping me to keep track of what they’ve done. They can record their lessons and private practice in one app, as well as rating the drive and where they went.

We can then talk about this during lessons, looking at the factors that may have influenced their drive and rating. I’ve been surprised at their honesty and openness to rating their own drive, and it’s benefited their driving massively.

Why should pupils be interested?

Anything that puts pupils in control of their own learning must be a good thing. It lets them monitor their own progress and reflect on how they’re doing.

They can also achieve award badges for completing different types of practise. This simple tool has surprising affect, with pupils getting a genuine buzz for achieving steps along the way!

Once they have achieved their 40 hours they will earn discount on insurance. This incentive alone makes the ‘effort’ of hitting start before every drive worthwhile.

The benefits for my business

PaceNotes gives me added value that I can provide my customers. It is free to access, requires minimal effort to set up and provides a maximum return for both learner and instructor.

It also provides something that I deem to be one of the holy grails of being an ADI, parental engagement. Parents often pay for lessons and its hard for us to demonstrate to them the skills and knowledge we’ve taught their son or daughter during the lesson. The PaceNotes app helps me to do this.

This gives us opportunity to engage and develop a relationship with the parents - and as we know parents talk to each other!  These improved relationships can lead to recommendations, and recommendations mean more business.

Using this technology to help my pupils and my business also helps me to stand out against my competition. It shows that I’m engaged with Highways England, DVSA and other bodies and want to do my bit to help make sure young drivers have the skills they need to be safer on our roads. Which instructor would appeal more? The one with an app, encouraging private practice and offering savings on insurance, or the instructor who keeps all their training in the car and leaves the learner to tackle their own insurance premiums?

Get involved

I’d encourage you to download the app and give it a go with your pupils. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices.

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  1. Comment by S R posted on

    I see this as a positive .. however are Insurance companies going ro remain interactive with this the same as they did with Pass + ??

  2. Comment by Geoff posted on

    Looks like a great idea to me.
    My children had lessons, and practice with me. Keeping track of what we had done was challenging.
    Also strikes me that this would be a useful place for the instructor to highlight changes since the parent last had a driving test to face.

  3. Comment by Jeremy Fox DVSA ADI posted on

    I thought using a mobile device in the car is illegal. I'm surprised and disappointed at the DVLA promoting such a device.
    I use a paper lesson plan with space for reflection by the pupil and parents if they wish. It's very rare that parents do so however and this is part of the reason why we are regarded as a necessary evil. I can't see there being an improvement in this parental disengagement just because it's on an app.
    I've been doing this job for 30 years am a grade A with a perfect score and I'm too old and ugly to be taken in by these "improvements" Not for me thank you.

    • Replies to Jeremy Fox DVSA ADI>

      Comment by Andrew (DVSA) posted on

      We are not promoting the use of hand held devices. The App is started before the journey, when the vehicle is stationary.

  4. Comment by ken posted on

    Now i know why i get constant driving school cars going around our crescent and road, we have had four accidents were students have run into parked cars and one animal had been killed run over by a learner driver while non observation of the area they were driving in, and when they stop going around with the driving school they come back with this app to pratice the same route, with no regard for local people or the effects they have on us i have spoken to some of the instructers and they have changed the route but the students still come around with someone else in the car, again no consultation with the general public.

  5. Comment by Vic posted on

    Do you really have to manually scroll back month by month year by year to get back to you birth date? That would be 1958 for me. Can't be bothered and not a good start to wanting to use this app.

    • Replies to Vic>

      Comment by steve yates posted on

      Major stumbling block for me also I was born in 1961 could only be bothered to scroll back just enough so that any date would be accepted.

    • Replies to Vic>

      Comment by Ian posted on

      Choose your month and date, then click on the year and it will allow you to scroll through to what you need.

  6. Comment by Phil Grant posted on

    Any questions about the app??

    Please provide an accompaning guidance notes for instuctors if you expect us to engage with it.

    What is “code from driving instructor”. Do instructors have an admin function to manage individual student apps??

    Very poor guidance at the moment for a government department.

  7. Comment by Ian Lynn posted on

    So the app has a really poor 1 star rating on the App Store. All the instructors have said it’s useless.
    Why are you promoting such a poorly rated app ?

  8. Comment by Angela Coonihan posted on

    After the 40 hours of practice, how does the insurance company know that it is that individual that has driven the car?

    • Replies to Angela Coonihan>

      Comment by Andrew (DVSA) posted on

      App developer Trak Global replies: Based on field testing and our experience working with young drivers, we expect most learners will use the app correctly to improve their learning experience, recording their own driving hours. There is an element of trust involved and insurers will be aware of this when they choose to partner with us.

  9. Comment by Steve posted on

    The app is not gender friendly, some might find this sexist. It also will not slow you to decline from agreeing to allow third party contact, not good!
    I do not want excessive contact from third parties, so did not complete the form, would have been nice to see if it works.
    No doubt they'll be others out there, am surprised that DVSA has allowed this to be used considering the public outcry on gender correctness.

    • Replies to Steve>

      Comment by Andrew (DVSA) posted on

      App developer Trak Global replies: Thanks for flagging these issues, which we’ll address in our imminent app update. The issue with not being able to proceed without allowing third party contact is a bug that will be fixed in the next release. We are also looking at expanding the gender options in a future release.

  10. Comment by Alison Barton posted on

    Can this be used for motorcycles too?

    • Replies to Alison Barton>

      Comment by Andrew (DVSA) posted on

      The PaceNotes app is currently only available to learner car drivers.

  11. Comment by John Daniel posted on

    When a pupil downloads the app it asks for an instructor code, as an ADI how do I get a code to give to my pupils ?

  12. Comment by DVSA-ADI Stevie Hicks posted on

    Trouble with technology is its time consuming, i encourage parents to sit in on lessons, has the desired effect of what i see they see and ultimately when parents sit in they can see for themselves, how they're daughter or son are reacting to the environment around them whilst at the wheel of a car.

    My other concern is the constant prompting by DVSA of use of hand held devises while at the wheel of a moving car, i am constantly flagging this up when i sit in on parents taking out they're own daughters and sons for parental driving lessons, in that i see from my position in the rear passenger seat a parent pick up a mobile to react to a text and pupil looks across at text in parents hand, i tell them they can be prosecuted if caught, highlighting the dangers of distraction.

    Can we stop all this stupidity around the use of aps for moving vehicles, sat-navs are bad enough and my pet hate, a "MAP" in the car forces an actual stop in a safe place and then concentrate on the actual skill of driving.

  13. Comment by mohamad conhyea posted on

    very delighted to have everything arranged in one go well done ,thanks

  14. Comment by andrewfrisby posted on

    The App is available for Apple and Android. You can download the Android version from Google Play

  15. Comment by Andrew (DVSA) posted on

    We've had a number of comments about PaceNotes not being available on Android. Just to clarify, it is available on Apple and Android devices. More information here:

  16. Comment by JUDY HALE posted on

    Im not convinced. Most of my people only learn with myself. I have a system where they are taught safe driving, to Rospa standard, they understand potential risks, can drive any road anywhere any time of the day etc. If a parent is going to take them out then the parent has to have lessons with me to ensure we are singing from the same hymn book.

  17. Comment by Peter Cary posted on


    Because, they have no say over who has access to their data and are VERY WORRIED about this...

    WHY can you offer the service without signing your life away?
    Even if it would require a small fee, I am sure most would be happy with that.

  18. Comment by John Daniel posted on

    This App and website both have too many bugs to use with my pupils

    Website has on numerous occasions said “error fetching data”

    5 pupils have told me they have download the App, entered my instructor code and got the message “request sent” but I am not seeing the request to approve the pupil linking to me as their instructor

  19. Comment by TM posted on

    I cannot download the app. Error message says the app is not compatible with my device. I have an iPhone 5c. I won't be buying an updated phone just to use this app I'm afraid

  20. Comment by PETER GLEDHILL posted on

    It seems that one of the selling points to students is an insurance discount after 40 hours. Is that professional lessons or private practice or both? Which insurance companies have signed up this and are there genuine discounts?
    I can see the app appealing to some learners - the same ones that complete the progress reports that I as an Grade A ADI share with them and these are the ones that learn better anyway. Other's find it too much effort.
    I'll give it a try though with some learners and see how it goes. I don't see it as a replacement for what I already do and hope that this won't become mandatory. I'll have retired by then anyway. Don't want to sound negative, just sceptical.

  21. Comment by Gerry Horwood posted on

    Not a good start, completed the registration then to be told there is an account already under my email address. Strange I thought, so I tried to log in and use the reset password, only then to be told my email address is not recognised. It seems a good idea, but it doesn’t look like I’ll find out.