Sunday, January 1, 2012

Learners with bad habits

So as we all know, the most effective time you will spend with your learning in a car, is with an Approved Driving Instructor or Potential Driving Instructor. They'll know what to look for, and how things should be done properly, and assuming they are keeping up to date, the most modern and effective way of doing everything.

Of course, if you have access to a suitably insured car (and a parent with nerves of steel), "private practice" (what we ADIs call driving without an ADI - friend or relative), private practice can be a pretty helpful way of gaining experience and confidence on the road.

I've noticed a trend in private practice - it seems to go one of two ways. If your "supervising driver" (usually mum or dad) literally just supervises you driving, it's very helpful, and can save hundreds of pounds in lessons, make you a safer driver post-test, and get you to test standard quicker. I've seen this happen may times, and it really relies on the supervising driver assuming the learner knows best as their knowledge is more up to date.

But if your supervising driver is convinced they know the best way of doing things, and decides to teach you how they drive, you can wind up developing bad habits as a learner, which will cost a lot of money and time to put right with lessons.

I've seen some excellent examples of this recently. One of my passing pupils, a week before his test, started stopping at every junction without any real reason. If a junction has good enough visibility you can go through without stopping (assuming there's no stop sign) if you can see it's clear. What had happened was his mum thought you were supposed to stop at every junction. I've also had pupil who's speed was continually too high- once again the result of private practice.

You can't expect your parents to know how to driver properly. I thought I was a brilliant driver, I was still doing my mirrors and signals like I thought I was supposed to, and then I started training as a driving instructor, and realised that in fact I'd just developed a lot of bad habits and my knowledge was all out of date. I was 24 when that happened, and I passed at 17. If you pass at 17 and you're in your 40s - you have got over two decades of bad habits, and your knowledge is over 20 years out of date.

So to summarise - if you are a supervising driver, you probably don't know best, and its your job to just supervise the learner, so sit there and be quiet, unless its a matter of safety.

James Richards, ADI

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