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Marmalade 

Into Practice

I’m a PDI at the beginning of my training and currently studying for my Part 1. I’m feeling confident with my Theory, but the Hazard Perception is getting the better of me! Do you have any tips?

Paul (PDI)

Answer: It could be you’re falling into the trap that many experienced drivers do on the Hazard Perception Test; it could be that you are spotting potential hazards and reacting too quickly.
Great! But this early click isn’t recognised by the computer. The programme is designed to recognise a ‘developing hazard’ rather than the potential hazard you have reacted to.
The method I suggest to both pupils and PDIs is this: try to link what you are seeing with ‘real driving’ rather than a computer-generated scene. If you were driving and you noticed a potential hazard, your first reaction may be a mirror check. As the hazard then develops you would ease off the gas. If the hazard then requires you to react, you would use your brake. Take this behaviour and replace it with clicks. So, spot hazard = click, mirrors = click, use brake = click.
This method will help your timings as well as make you appreciate the purpose of the hazard perception test, and it does work. So, pass this, and the rationale behind it, on to your future pupils!

Young Up-Starts

I’m thinking of joining an under-17’s driving scheme. Do you think it’s worth it?

Jerry (ADI)

Answer: There are many benefits to taking part in an under-17 driving scheme. Firstly, the hourly income rate is often pretty good, particularly as your mileage will be low and there’s no travel time between lessons.
Secondly, you will find that the amount of ‘instructing’ needed is minimal compared to ‘normal lessons’. It all takes place in a safe environment, and the expectations of the customers (parents!) is to have them driving as soon as possible. This alone will make you rethink and reappraise your own teaching style. You will be surprised just how quickly a young person picks up the basic manual skills, and the ability to coordinate and control the car! And perhaps surprisingly, much of what you discover can be brought into your everyday teaching. Thirdly, it can be a great business opportunity. Have a welcome pack ready to hand out to all local 15 and 16-year-olds who come to a session. They are pupils of the future, and you will already have them on your side, so giving them your driving school details, and perhaps a discount voucher for when they hit 17, is a great way to ensure you are top of their options when it comes to learning to drive on road! So, go for it, it’s really fun!

To Teach or Not to Teach

My son turns seventeen next month. Should I teach him, or is it better for all concerned if I ask a fellow instructor to teach him instead?

Sharron (ADI)

Answer: This ultimately comes down to you and your son! Other instructors will be the first to tell you horror stories of teaching their own children! However, it’s not always that way. Here are my tips.

● Don’t try to teach them like you would your usual pupils; the relationship in the car is unique.
● Don’t have unrealistic expectations of either yourself, or your son.
● Try to let your son learn within a normal driving environment, rather than set structured lessons. When you are going out, let him drive so learning can take place casually rather than in a traditional lesson environment.
● Consider charging them! This will give them ownership of their lessons and learning process, and hopefully make them more responsible too. You can always give the money back after they have passed!
● If it doesn’t go well for either of you, then don’t feel any sense of failure by handing them over to someone you trust. Be the grown up and make the right decision.

Get Them To Think

Apart from the DVSA ‘show me’ questions, can you suggest any other distraction type questions I could bring into my lessons?

Carl (PDI)

Answer: Start by thinking about the reasons behind the ‘show me’ questions, rather than the questions themselves. The learning outcome is to encourage our pupils to think about what they may need to do, when they could choose to do it and how to control the car as they are doing it, rather than the importance of knowing how to open a window, for example. Other questions I set them include: Imagine a wasp is in your car as you drive down the road. What are you going to do about it?’ (this also gets us onto opening windows!) Or ‘Here, have a sweet…’ and seeing what they do about unwrapping it. Start using your imagination and bring in some real-life situations.

Seeing the Real You

Is taking a pupil I don’t know for my Standards Check a bad idea? I know you did Lou, but what are the advantages?

Paul (ADI)

Answer: You’re right, I did! I chose to take a pupil who I met the hour before, and she had never driven before. The advantages or disadvantages are always going to be personal and subjective, but I found it natural to work with a pupil I had only just met. It meant working in real time, rather than to a pre-planned and probably over rehearsed structure. However, you do want to be in your own comfort zone! Having seen many ADIs lose points because they ‘knew the pupil’ and therefore had a tinted idea of what they thought they needed, rather than what the pupil showed they needed on the day, I think not having preconceived ideas is an advantage!
Just one tip – check their eyesight and licence in enough time to find a replacement pupil if you discover your first choice can’t see or doesn’t have a valid licence! Believe me, when they start squinting 20 minutes before the test, it does nothing your nerves!