- practice what they have been learning.
- gain confidence when driving on the road and to build awareness, anticipation and observation skills.
- Appropriate insurance cover for the pupil.
- ‘L’ plates are a legal necessity.
- and you are strongly advised to have an extra interior mirror mounted on the windscreen for your use.
It is very important to remember that the pupil has been taught to drive defensively.
This means that the priority is to protect themselves from other road users and to be aware of the constantly changing scenario around them. This will not only include other drivers but cyclists, pedestrians ,changing environmental conditions and of course what is happening to the road ahead of them. It might seem that progress is cautious, hesitant at times and somewhat deliberate – for example, a very deliberate check around before moving off rather than a quick glance. Please be patient and work at the pace of the pupil rather than at the pace you think you would be driving at in their place.
The pupil is not an experienced driver but a novice driver on a steep learning curve engaged in an activity that taxes their concentration to the limit. Consequently, tiredness will set in sooner than it would with an experienced driver, with resulting lack of concentration. Set specific distances and time targets. Two hours (with frequent breaks) at any one stretch is the maximum that should be attempted. An hour to an hour and a half is quite sufficient on any single occasion.
The pupil has been used to training on a specific vehicle. A diesel, for instance, has quite different driving characteristics to a petrol-engined car. Don’t be surprised if there is some initial difficulty if practicing on a petrol-engined car for the first time results in stalling. Pupils have been prepared for this and will become used to managing the different characteristics in time. Unless the car is identical to that in which they have been training, avoid manoeuvres. A different car will require different focal points and could lead to confusion when switching back to the training car. If the pupil insists on trying manoeuvres – and they are succeeding – fine. If the manoeuvres don’t work well then the advice would be to not continue with them.
At the start, choose somewhere quiet, at a weekend or on a quiet evening – then build up gradually. Remember, the pupil has to get used to a different car and to you as well. When the confidence of both of you increases, then venture further afield. Always remember to work at the pace of the pupil. Please be aware that the pupil will have been taught using the latest driving techniques. These may appear strange to you. An example might be the block changing of gears when slowing down or coming to a stop (missing out gears rather than coming down them one by one). There are reasons for this such as the saving of time, the saving of wear and tear on gearbox and clutch and to keep both hands on the wheel for as long as possible. Please don’t try and teach a different method. This could lead to confusion. Let the pupil get on with driving using the methods they have been taught and be prepared to listen to their reasons.
You might wish to be open to learning some new skills yourself from the pupil! This will enhance the “teamwork effect” and be more conducive to progress. If you feel out of your depth when accompanying – or feel unsure or uneasy in any way – it is better to make the decision not to accompany.