How do I teach my new Learner Driver (Part 2)

L Plate

Vicroads L Plate

Have you, or has someone you know  just got their Learners Permit from  Vicroads? (Part 2)

So, you’ve got the basics of car control under, well, control… What next? Don’t go charging headfirst into doing the pickup from school as your next step! Some kids can be very nervous about the first time their friends will see them driving. Nothing quite like an audience! From this point, The next simple step should be to move on to talking about their position on the road and their position for turning. Break it down – When you are turning left, you need to point into the turn, whereas when you are turning right you position yourself just left of centre, pointing straight and you don’t start to turn until after you’ve moved off a little. This makes sure you finish on the correct side of the road. Remember, the only stupid question, is one that isn’t asked. Encourage them to ask things, even if they think it might be a bit silly.

Again, once your learner has basic car control figured out, then they can start to think about what is happening on the road around them. Talk about Mirrors and Headchecks, and creeping forward to be able to see or not cutting right turns. Work up to the logic of roundabouts and changing lanes, and turning at traffic lights – with or without an arrow. With these things all under their belt, they are probably ready to face most situations on the road, and you will feel more prepared to let them drive wherever you need to go.

TIP: If you can’t see – Don’t go! Number one rule when driving! Always make sure you are in a position to get a clear observation before making your decision to go. Never think… “Oh, I can’t really see, I’m not sure, so I’ll just go.” Wait for an obstruction to move out of your view, or reposition yourself (if safe) so you can see past/around it!

The first 30 hours (or so) can feel somewhat like hard slog and as much as they are learning to drive from scratch, YOU are learning to trust them and communicate effectively with them in that role. But remember, they are not coming from a base of no knowledge at all. They have been passengers in a car for about 16+ years by this point, and they will know how it should feel. There is a lot that they can learn from the passenger seat, so make sure you continue teaching, even when they are not driving. Have conversations about why you crossed the solid line where you shouldn’t have, talk about how you knew the person in front was about to cut you off, explain to them why you decided to go around the block making all left turns, rather than try to turn right at that busy intersection. Get them involved in your driving. Being an active passenger, rather than a passive passenger staring down at their phone all the time, will help them when it comes to their time behind the wheel. It may also make you a better driver as well.

And your biggest asset in teaching a learner, is your ability to ANTICIPATE what is going to happen on the road. Young Learner drivers these days must complete a 120 hour logbook before their drive test. What this gives them, over time, is exposure to many different driving scenarios – but in the beginning, they don’t have that wealth of experience to fall back on, to predict when a driver may be about to suddenly change lanes, or to think ahead about getting out of the right lane as 4 blocks ahead the road narrows anyway. Use your ability to anticipate, to explain things well ahead of time and your learner will be ready by the time they have to act. You can also anticipate when a learner may be about to make a mistake – you might have noticed they haven’t looked in an important direction, so tell them, before you find yourself in trouble. This is much better than being critical after a mistake has been made.

You don’t have to be a driving instructor to know what makes you feel nervous about someone else’s driving. You can feel it when they are going too fast around a corner, or sitting too close behind the car or truck in front. You can feel it when the road is a little slippery or there are extra risks from parked cars or pedestrians. This is the intuitive side of driving, that over time becomes second nature to an experienced driver, and it is this that is the best thing you can teach your new Learner Driver. For anything else you may be struggling with, hand it over to the experts! We have an extra pedal on our side of the car to help us be brave!

There is a fantastic government funded program called Keys2Drive, which allows you to access a driving instructor for 1 free lesson and they will often talk about many of things I have mentioned above. Frannie’s Driver Training is Keys2Drive accreditated and you can register on their website for your free Lesson or have it as part of our popular Beginners Package.

The Keys2Drive website is www.keys2drive.com.au – it also has some great resources for both parents/supervisors and learners to help you through your learning journey.

Also see franniedrivertraining.com.au/prices for more information about our 5 Lesson Beginers Package for Geelong, Drysdale and the Bellarine.

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