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Marmalade

Money Management

What do you keep your notes and change in? By the end of the week I’m often finding money in random places as I don’t have a sensible system in place!

Tom, ADI

ANSWER: The disadvantage of having cash in random places around the car, or on your person, is that is not very secure, particularly if it’s in sight. It’s also more difficult to keep track of and you will often find yourself thinking ‘I’m sure I’m £30 down… where did I put that??’ If your car has a compartment that isn’t already taken up with tools of the trade, then designate this to be your money box. Many instructors use a plastic folder or an envelope they keep in their diary or glove box. Having change in a cup holder is great for easy access to your coffee money or for parking meters. If you don’t want change on show, then you could disguise it in a chewing gum pot! If change is a nuisance, how about upping your prices to a round figure which may encourage more notes and less need to give change. Or what about setting up an online pre-payment system or a card reader system so that pupils can pay using a debit card – there are plenty of options available now and they mean the money can go straight into your business account!

Light on Safety

If, while on test, another driver flashes a pupil at a junction or meeting situation, do they go (assuming they checked it’s safe or clear to do so) or would this be a fail?

Daniel, ADI

ANSWER: It’s likely that during the course of a pupil’s lessons they will encounter this situation a number of times. As instructors, it’s our role to encourage a pupil to interpret other road users ‘language’ in a way that is safe but legal and realistic. So, every pupil should go to test knowing the official meaning of flashed headlights, but also be able to demonstrate an understanding of others’ intended signals. Personally, I like to answer the question: “Did he flash me to tell me to go?” with “We don’t know!”, and then look at all the factors that help us decide the answer. Now this of course takes a pupil considerably longer than you or I make those decisions, and this is why it needs practice. During lessons, do all you can to give the pupil the experience of making their own informed decisions so that on test (and in post-test driving) they hesitate just long enough make a safe decision, but without missing an opportunity. I find verbalising, ‘He flashed so I’m just going to check it’s for me…’, allows the pupil to be in the moment and take the right action. In answer to your question, it depends on safety and control – no they won’t fail if it was safe but, yes, they may fail if they demonstrate a lack of realistic judgement.

Ahead of the Game

I qualified about five months ago, and I’m loving my new career! Is it too early to be thinking about my first Standards Check?

Octavia, ADI

ANSWER: Not at all! It wouldn’t be unusual to be invited for a Standards Check within 6-12 months of qualifying. It’s worth focusing on what you know were your weaknesses on your Part 3, and any ‘habits’ you have fallen into now you are perhaps structuring your lessons in a less formal way. Refresh the motives behind the competencies, and just remember the benefits to your pupil’s learning that come from many of those 17 skills. Perhaps now is the time to ask your trainer to observe a lesson to give you some reassurance and constructive feedback. When that brown envelope drops through your door, you’ll be glad you have been proactive.

Sitting Comfortably

My pupil has asked me to come with them on their driving test. This will be the first time I’ve sat in on a test. Is there anything I should know?

Sam, PDI

ANSWER: Here’s a simple ‘Guide to sitting in on a test’ Ithat I often share with PDIs and ADIs.

● Wait, seated, until your pupil tells the examiner they want you to accompany them.
● Smile and say ‘good morning’ in a cheerful voice!
● Follow them out to the car and get in the back while the pupil is doing the eyesight test. Sit behind the pupil’s seat.
● Belt on and head restraint positioned, and be ready by the time they get into the car. (You can lift the bonnet for the tell me question if the pupil needs your support, so be ready to jump out again if needed!)
● Do not verbally interact AT ALL throughout the test (this includes squeaking, tutting, coughing, clearing your throat, sighing, or giving verbal commands such as ‘STOP!!!’ or offering reassurance to a distressed pupil, until a test has stopped or been terminated).
● You are welcome to write notes (this includes writing on a phone or iPad) so you can note a route down or faults, or order your shopping! Just be discreet and don’t distract.
● DONT make eye contact in the mirror with your pupil.
● DONT let your legs/hands push into the back of the driver’s seat or hold the pupils seat in any way.
● DONT look left or right or do blind stops till AFTER your pupil has done it – and don’t look out the back during a reverse manoeuvre.
● Doing any of the above could be interpreted by the examiner as a code, or a hint to your pupil, and will therefore be deemed as cheating… the same reason you should be aware of coughing or clearing your throat.
● If you need to open a window, do so at the same time an examiner opens his or at a point where it’s not distracting.
● Do not interact during the debrief unless invited to do so by the examiner – they will include you subtly if they choose to.
● Congratulate/commiserate with your pupil AFTER the debrief
● If you want a word with the examiner after the test, do so by asking politely, and away from the car and pupil. The examiners are often helpful regarding the route or rules but are unlikely to comment on the specific test or pupil’s actions and will become defensive if confronted.
● Get your car out of the area asap so as not to disrupt other tests coming in or out. Stop further down the road if needed, rather than taking up a space at the TC to debrief or take photos etc.