It Begins With Establishing Rapport

Posted on 01 November 2017

The main purpose for sharing this YouTube video of a dad supervising his daughter on her first driving lesson is to demonstrate what effective rapport between a learner and their supervising driver looks like. It's important that parents don't underestimate the influence parent – teen dynamics has on the learning process.

The supervising dad did make numerous technical errors and even though exploring them isn't the principal objective of this particular post, I will address them to an extent. I must state he more than balanced any errors with his teaching attitude. He used great tone; was reassuring and encouraging; BUT still effectively corrected his learner when appropriate without breaking rapport. For the most part, his directions were timely and concise.

Okay, so let's review a few specific items:

A great location was selected for the first drive. The learner's dad got her to begin off-road to familiarise herself with vehicle controls. They rather quickly proceeded to on-road, however there was no traffic so it helped facilitate road positioning; indicating; turning; stopping and speed management practice.

The learner appeared to be seated quite close to the steering wheel. If the arms are excessively bent it can interfere with steering control and cause fatigue. A 40-45 degree bend at the elbows is fine. When your learner is seated with their back against the back-rest ask them to fully extend their arm - In this position the driver's wrist should make contact with the top of the steering wheel – if contact is with the forearm they are too close; if it's the fingers that are touching the steering wheel they are seated too far back.

The steering wheel airbag area appeared to be facing the learner's throat region. If the seat can't be raised any higher, the steering column can be lowered to ensure the airbag strikes the driver's chest area if deployed.

At 2:35 dad realised his daughter was using her left foot to brake. He needed to spend more time covering vehicle controls BEFORE moving off. Because we parents are generally unconsciously competent drivers, we often over estimate how much our teens actually know about driving. Advise your learner that there is a raised floor section for them to place their left foot and to get into the habit of having it anchored there from the start.

Between 7:10-7:40 and again at 8:35 are examples of timely and concise directions.

Between 9:15-11:00 the instructions around the STOP sign are excellent.

15:06 is an example of what happens when the supervising driver is NOT concise – "You're too far to the right – You're going to hit the trash can – so go to your left. Following an over-correction at 15:12 "Not too far left." We must be specific – such as; move a metre to the left – ("Too far" isn't good enough).

19:16 is another example of not being specific – "Go through this way" -- "This way?" "No, this way." dad should have said "Go Left" and pointed left at the same time.

What I believe may have benefited the process is a commentary drive from dad at the very beginning. What he said between 19:32-20:00 would have been perfect if he was driving and modelling the technique. Steering was one area he was finding a little difficult to articulate - so if he drove for ten minutes or so it would have given him the opportunity to better demonstrate it as well as talk about where his left foot was located and how he was approaching intersections and curves.

It's usually not only the learner driver who is negotiating a steep learning curve during the initial hours – the supervising driver is too. Car-parks and other quiet locations offer a lower risk environment to develop vehicle control skills before traffic and hazards are thrown into the mix.

In terms of establishing a solid working rapport, I feel this dad and daughter team were very successful.

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