DVSA National Driving Syllabus, Unit 4: Drive safely and efficiently
Training someone to pass a driving test requires making sure the client can drive safely and efficiently, which means training your client to a higher standard than that of the driving test.
Your client must be able to interact appropriately with other road users in varying road and traffic conditions. This requires decision making, which should start for your client from day one of their driving lessons. We all know the answer to 'What do you want to do today?' is often, 'I don't know, you tell me, you're the driving instructor'. At this point the client abdicates responsibility and refuses to make a simple decision and yet it is imperative we help our clients make decisions for themselves. At first it can be very simple: 'Where would you choose to stop?' followed with 'What are your reasons for choosing this place?'
You client must be able to minimise risk when driving in varying road and traffic conditions; they must understand that avoidability is extremely important rather than, 'It's my right of way regardless of the situation because the guidelines say it is.' Being able to drive defensively means also being able to take a space with acceleration when necessary as well as knowing when to hold back. Your clients need to be able to work out the consequences of their actions even in a split second - driving is often like a fast-moving game of chess with all the players moving simultaneously.
If the clients gain practice and experience of working out solutions for themselves it speeds up their decision making processes. This is why it is so important that we ADIs understand when to step in to minimise the risk and when to wait and allow our clients to make their own decisions. We can use various different exercises to help our clients make decisions. It doesn't mean they always have to be driving to make those decisions - it is something they can practise from the passenger seat either with you on lessons or between lessons.
It is also important that your client knows how to behave appropriately if there is an incident. Road rage is a common theme amongst drivers and being able to control our thoughts and feelings and behave in an adult way is crucial. We ADIs must be careful that our private thoughts about other road users do not spill over into our lessons. Demonstrating how to remain calm and concentrated when other drivers are being aggressive is essential to being able to drive safely.
We also need them to know what to do in case of a breakdown or even a crash. Including these scenarios in your driving lessons will improve your driving syllabus and keep you away from test based training but more importantly produce a safe and responsible driver that will actually find the test easy because they have reached a far higher standard.
If you are interested in thinking 'outside of the box' and not just teaching to pass a test you may find our courses and products helpful.
This was the fourth in a series of short articles that have been written based on the DVSA Driver training syllabus. You can find more information here.