The role of a driving supervisor

Highlands Drivesafe's Sue Tyler warns that it is important for a supervisor to realise a few things to help the learner driver process go smoothly.

Highlands Drivesafe's Sue Tyler warns that it is important for a supervisor to realise a few things to help the learner driver process go smoothly.

The thought of teaching someone to drive a car often only becomes a reality when your child looks at you with excited eyes and says, “I can go for my learner’s licence now!”. This can send panic through your veins or it can be an exciting new learning experience for both. 

You are forgiven for feeling panic, it is a scary process for both learner and teacher. Teaching a new driver how to drive a car can also be confusing and difficult. As a driver you do many tasks without thinking as it has become a sub conscious process over time. Now you are faced with the difficult task of breaking what seems simple down into instructions a learner can process and duplicate. Sounds easy? Not usually, it is difficult to break a task down into instructions and assess if learning has effectively occurred. For the supervisor it is important to realise a few things to help the process go smoothly and preserve your relationship with your learner driver.

  • Learners do not know everything, we need to break everything down to first determine what level of understanding there is of the given task
  • Learners may look ok, but they are as scared and unsure as you are. Reassure them.
  • Be calm, breath and keep them in quiet back streets for the first 5 – 10 hours depending on how quick they pick up the skill.
  • Give positive feedback, they know they are not perfect at the task they don’t need it yelled at them or any negative reinforcement, it is counter productive.
  • It is ok to stop and explain a task before you ask them to do it, in fact it is best to follow the tell, show and do process. Tell them what they need to know, show them how it is done by demonstrating and then allow them a few practice attempts to refine the skill.
  • Nerves can emerge at any time, and it may be a nervous giggle or a quiet time that you notice they stopped breathing for a few seconds, or they may even become chatty, however they display their nerves, you know your learner driver best. Identify nerves, allow them to pull over and secure the car, then have a chat about how it felt, what they need to do or be aware of and give them time to reduce the adrenalin in their system before moving off. This diffusion of nerves can avert a potentially dangerous situation if they keep driving with adrenalin in their system. 
  • Remind them and yourself to take a deep breath regularly – it does help.

Learning to drive should be fun for both learner and supervisor. You are about to spend 120 hours and 12 months next to the learner, it is best to start in a staged process rather than put the learner into an advanced skill such as freeway or high-speed areas. The learner needs to focus on foundation skills first, such as car control, moving off and stopping and simple traffic.

If they don’t perfect these skills before going onto advanced skills, they may develop gaps in their learning and although they can ‘drive a car’ they may not have fully developed safer defensive driving skills needed to stay alive on our roads. Details: www.highlandsdrivesafe.com.

- Sue and Murray Tyler 

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