Marmalade

All Revved Up

Do you encourage your pupils to watch the rev counter when setting the gas before finding bite and moving off?

Jane, PDI

Answer: The rev counter is not something I refer to as a teaching aid. The only time its use comes up is when pupils start private practice and a parent has told them to ‘set the revs to….’. They are then glued to the dial, trying to get the little needle exactly right and that’s when I can predict the conversation that has been had! I also find that when they prioritise the rev counter, the left pedal (the important one!) is neglected, along with the traffic conditions and their general awareness and judgement of what’s happening around them. Personally, I’m an ‘eyes off the dash’ kind of instructor. I prefer to use words to create a picture and offer a description, including ‘Purring’, ‘Humming’, ‘Hear the car talking to you… telling you she’s ready’. But the emphasis is ALL about the clutch; too much focus on the right foot (Gas) and they fail to realise that it’s the effective clutch use that makes the car go, and smoothly. However, I recommend you use whatever tools work for you and your pupil. Just be aware of the disadvantages of referring to the rev counter.

Moving On

How do instructors deal with the abrupt, but positive, end to a friendship when the pupil you have spent so much time with passes and moves on? It’s a strange feeling indeed.

Richard, PDI

Answer: You’re right, with some pupils we build such a strong connection that we can miss their company after they have passed. However, if you get your marketing right and provide a service in your immediate local area you will often get a wave in passing and see them around, even socially perhaps. Before you know it, you will be putting all your efforts into forming, albeit short-term, rapport with the next pupil, so the feelings are replenished quickly. Your past pupils are your biggest source of advertising, so make sure you use them! Find clever ways of staying in touch so you are the instructor they recommend to friends and family. Social media is a powerful way of remaining connected, so consider sending a message a few weeks after they have passed, asking how their post-test driving is going. ‘Congratulations’ posts and ‘One year on!’ Facebook memories also keep you in their thoughts. A text message occasionally reminds them of your number, particularly if they have changed phones and lost contacts. My pupils often have a stack of my business cards in their cars to give out to friends, and a referral scheme can also work really well.

Flashing!

What are your thoughts on encouraging pupils to thank oncoming vehicles who have given way in meeting situations? And do you have any clever ways of doing this in the dark, without flashing headlights?

Ross, ADI

Answer: Saying ‘thank you’ is something I hand over responsibility for really early on in my lessons. I think it’s a subtle way of encouraging a pupil to acknowledge each drive is their responsibility. And with the headlines about a rise in road aggression, I think any opportunity to create a sense of team work and mutual respect for other road users should be taken. As long as the car is in control, I’m not dictatorial about the method a pupil chooses, such as a nod, a wave, a finger lift… it all sends the right, feel good message. In the dark I still find myself saying ‘thank you’ out loud… somehow it seems right! However, a flat palm raised to the windscreen can often be seen by oncoming drivers, and I know some will dip lights momentarily. Anything has to be preferable to the flash of a blinding full beam, even with the best intentions.

Silent Teaching

I’m planning on taking a Full Licence Holder on my Part 3 Test. He knows the area well, so can he drive independently without my verbal directions if I set a location to get to? Would I be marked down for not giving ‘directions and instructions clearly and in good time?’

Charles, PDI on Part 3

Answer: Don’t confuse the competency ‘Were directions and instructions given clearly and in good time?’, with ‘At the end of the road turn left’! Yes, it includes giving directions to turn etc, but it also means anything you are ‘instructing’ him to do, any advice you are giving, any information you are adding, or any suggestions you are making. Here is an extract from the DVSA ADI1 that may help – “Indications that all the elements of competence are in place could include:
● clear, concise directions
● ensuring the pupil understands what they plan to do and agrees with that plan
● directions given at a suitable time so that the pupil can respond

Indications of lack of competence include:

  • giving confused directions
  • giving directions too late
  • giving unnecessary directions
  • failing to recognise when the PDI’s input is causing overload or confusion

So, there’s nothing wrong with setting your pupil the task of driving himself to a location they’re familiar with, although have this conversation with him in front of the examiner, regarding their route and why this may be good for there to do, so it doesn’t appear like a staged lesson. Also, it might be worth bringing their skills of self-navigating into the lesson and, if appropriate, talking about the benefits and disadvantages of local knowledge. This shows a deeper level of CCL.

Looking Good

Can you offer any advice on teaching a pupil with sight loss in one eye?

Carl, ADI

Answer: Monocular Vision (or sight in only one eye) is not a DVSA notifiable condition as long as the ‘good eye’ is free from any conditions and the driver is able to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’ – these can be found on the dvsa.gov.uk site. The majority of people with sight in one eye report very few difficulties or challenges. The remaining vision combined with the brain’s compensation skills work admirably, particularly if someone has lived with the condition for some time.
As the instructor, just be aware of your placement of any visual aids, or hand directions, or signals. Extra mirrors may help, but this is a very personal preference, so spend a little time getting to know their thoughts and what they need.