Supervising Driver Tips - Part 1

Posted on 01 September 2017

Parents are, on the face of it, the largest group of unofficial driving instructors on the south-east coast of the Milky Way -- so throughout the first month of spring I will be sharing 50 TIPS to support them and other supervising drivers who are instructing learners.

50. Prior to conducting your first driving lesson with your learner, reacquaint yourself with ALL road rules and regulations. A lot can change in 25 years.

49. Commence lessons in quiet locations such as: carparks and industrial areas; at non-busy times; in good weather conditions. Avoid night drives in the early stages.

48. Always give careful consideration to routes your learner can handle – drive it first yourself to prepare for potential challenges. Discuss lesson goals with them in advance; this helps reduce unnecessary anxiety.

47. The person sitting next to the learner is the supervisor/instructor. Any parent or other individuals seated at the rear should avoid providing feedback until they are outside the vehicle.

46. Your ACTIONS (both verbal and non-verbal) will evoke REACTIONS from your learner. Your feedback should be relevant and constructive.

45. When your learner makes an error, resist the urge to immediately say something. Pause for a moment and give them space to mention it first. If they don't acknowledge it, discuss it with them by asking open-ended questions.

44.Coach your learner to always check mirrors prior to any movement of their hands or feet.

43.Try to use the term "priority" rather than "right of way" with learners. "Priority" is something that is GIVEN to us, whereas "right of way" is something that we TAKE. This subtle difference in thinking is sometimes the difference between a safe and unsafe road user.

42.Develop a plan with your learner that deals with the event of a lesson not going well. It may be to simply pull-over when safe; turn the engine off; breathe; discuss what just happened and agree on a way forward.

41. Try to create a driving schedule at least seven days in advance. Momentum is very important – aim for at least (2) driving hours per week.

40. Provide clear and early communication and directions - both verbal and non-verbal. Don't be vague like "slow down" or "drive slowly" – say "press the brake pedal" and "drive at 40 kilometres per hour."Comments such as "be careful" and "watch out" are not specific enough.

39. To avoid confusion, when replying to your learner, don't say "right" say "correct."

38. Remain mindful when selecting "quiet" local streets to practice with your learner, that various hazards often exist such as vehicles parked on crests and curves; kids playing with balls and riding bikes and vehicles reversing out of driveways.

37. When teaching someone to drive it's impossible to over-emphasise the fact mirrors don't display the complete scene, and that blind spots need to be physically checked by looking in the direction we are about to travel. The rear of the vehicle also presents a blind-spot, so the driver must look over their shoulder through the rear windscreen prior to any reverse movement.

36. Coach your learner to move their head to see around visual block-outs that are found inside and outside the vehicle. Internal block-outs may include the front, middle and rear pillars of the car; passengers; rear vision mirror; head-restraint; windscreen labels and sun visor. Examples of external block-outs are; trees, parked vehicles and fences.

35. Instruct your learner to signal for (5) seconds before moving away from the kerb. Anything less in the New South Wales driving test won't be enough.

34. Try not to compare your learner's progress to your own or their siblings and friends. Learning to drive is unique to each individual. We never expect everyone's athletic, academic or musical skills to develop at the same rate. Even peripheral vision levels vary depending on an adolescent's exposure to activities such as horse-riding or football.

33. When instructing your learner, you may sometimes sense that you are losing them via too many corrections. In that situation, resist the urge to point out the occasional minor error in the interests of the big picture. Be prepared to sacrifice a battle or two in order to win the war.

32. In the initial hours of learning to drive, teenagers have enough challenges simply steering and using the pedals - so avoid introducing multiple responsibilities too soon. To begin with you will need to check the mirrors, speedometer, blind-spots and just about everything else for them.

31. Set up a detachable mirror on the passenger side of the windscreen to assist you and keep a notebook and pen in the glovebox.

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