Supervising Driver Tips - Part 3

Posted on 01 October 2017

This is the third and final instalment of 50 TIPS - designed to support parents and other non-professional instructors who are supervising novice drivers.

10. When travelling near schools and sporting fields, encourage your learner to increase low scanning, including in-between and underneath parked vehicles – looking for small feet and rolling balls etc. Look for reflections in vehicle panels - (they can be used as a mirror in visual block-out situations).

9. Novice drivers are over-represented in 'T-Bone' crashes relating to turning across the line of traffic. Ensure your learner makes safe decisions when negotiating these dangerous turns whilst you are still supervising their driving.

When selecting a safe gap their movement should not force other road users to alter their speed or position.

When turning across traffic ensure their vehicle clears the intersection by at least 3 seconds before the approaching vehicles arrive at that point. When joining a traffic stream select a gap that allows them to reach the traffic speed before the trailing vehicles are within 3 seconds of their car.

8. I refer to the first six months of P-plate driving as the SORRY, NO RESULTS FOUND phase. We're all familiar with that pesky message that pops up when we type something into a search engine. An Intermediate level driver faces this message constantly because they simply don't possess a big enough bank of driving data to accommodate every situation. During this phase consider - limiting the amount of teenage passengers they may carry; and imposing: weather, location, and night driving restrictions.

7. It's important to choose your battles wisely. If you point out EVERY minor error your learner driver makes, you run the risk of type-casting yourself - "Oh Dad just criticises my driving ALL the time." Too much criticism could cost you much needed credibility later on in the process. And, the reality is you are likely being Mr Obvious anyway - they often know what they did wrong and will appreciate you not launching a Royal Commission.

If it is a big ticket item that warrants discussion, try asking them to tell you what happened before providing solutions. It's far more productive when they share what they believe happened. Even if their assessment is not accurate, you still have an opportunity to correct and offer constructive feedback.

6. According to Royal Life Saving Society-Australia's 2016 national drowning report, there were 280 deaths in waterways between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. 23 of those deaths were young people aged 18-24 - representing (8%) of all drownings – that approximate age demographic accounts for about (25%) of all road deaths; despite only representing around 10% of licence holders.

Most parents would concede it's unrealistic to expect to train a novice to be competent in challenging water situations within twelve months; yet surprisingly, many assume they can produce competent motorists in that relatively short period of time.

Given their chilling over-representation in serious crash data, does it not make sense to introduce our children to safe driving principals several years before they acquire their L plates?

5. Remember that old saying: "Teenagers think they are 10 feet tall and bulletproof?" It turns out that isn't exactly correct. Research shows that adolescents do take more risks than any other age demographic, but not because they are ignorant. In fact, if anything, they often overestimate risks but choose to take them anyway. Why? - A hit of dopamine. Dopamine is that feel good brain neurotransmitter central to our internal reward system. When we reach the legal driving age we have more dopamine gushing through us than at any other time of our life because its release in response to experience is at its greatest.

4. A question frequently asked by learner drivers is - 'How do I know if I'm close enough to a stop or give way line?' An effective reference point for them is to position the car so that the stop line appears to run underneath their right side-mirror.

3. When teaching your learner to turn right at intersections with oncoming traffic or pedestrians crossing, edge out into the intersection and stop at the turning point - keeping the steering wheel centred so that the wheels are facing straight ahead - (if hit from behind the vehicle is less likely to be shunted into oncoming traffic or pedestrians).

2. Advise your learner driver that flashing indicator lights merely proves they work. Is there sufficient evidence to suggest the vehicle is actually moving in that direction?

1. A low-risk road user is someone who believes driving is more about brain and eyes than hands and feet.

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