It is pretty obvious as a driver instructor you are teaching a person or group to operate large vehicles safely under all changing conditions. You are constantly looking for safe procedures and correct operation. But just what do you look for, and how do you do it?
One thing that makes driver training very difficult, and is also the reason most husbands shouldn't teach their wife to drive, or why parents have difficulty teaching their kids to drive is this: No one drives exactly the same way you do! You tend to think your way is the best and correct way. Everyone else should drive your way. But they won't.
A driving instructor has to realize that everyone drives differently. As long as they are safe, for themselves, others on the road and around them, along with using the vehicle in a proper non-abusing manner they will do fine.
What Should The Driving Instructor Be Looking At
The instructor has a pretty serious and intense job, especially in the early stages. You are responsible for other people's safety and their property around your training vehicle, as well as the safety of your student or students. It is also to be noted that you are often responsible for a vehicle worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to your company.
Watching The Student Driver
- First, you need to be situated in the correct position. If you are in a truck, then the side by side seating puts you where you need to be. In a bus or coach you need to be seated in a location where you can observe the following listed items. This would normally be in the first right hand forward facing seat.
- You must watch the student driver's eyes to know what he/she is looking at. Do they see the hazards, are they taking in all of the traffic picture, are they watching the vehicles rear view mirrors? Usually newer drivers are not doing all of that, so you must do it for them. Also many driver instructors will not allow sun glasses on the first few days until they get to observe their students eye actions.
- You need to watch their hands. Do they have the steering wheel under full control? Are steering manoeuvers smooth or jerky? Are they operating other switches and controls without taking their eyes off the traffic picture? Do they look at you to talk or when you talk?
- You have to watch their feet. Are their feet properly on the pedals? Is their motion for acceleration and braking smooth? Are their foot movements jerky or smooth when moving from the brake to accelerator? Do they cover the brake pedal when not applying power?
What Should Driver Instructors Say
- Good communication is an important part of driver training. Just how much is too much instruction? Is there such a thing as not enough? Here we are refering to when the vehicle is moving.
- Correct procedures must be described and often demonstrated in advance. The instructor must always be able to and willing to demonstrate any new technique presented if necessary.
- Ask them to slow down when necessary, and point out any hazard you think they might have missed, in a low calm voice.
- Don't hound them, or name every single hazard every time. Let them do it on their own. Only warn if danger is immediate.
- Advise not to get too close to things before you get to it, rather than at the last minute. Give the student time to make their own calculated decisions.
Student Drivers Learn From Each Other
If you conduct courses where there is more than one student in the vehicle at the same time and take turns driving, then they are learning from each other as well as from you.
As you point out errors during the day, and when you have your review at the end of the driving day, is a good time to discuss the faults with the group. It is a good idea to mention the fact they will be learning from each other either in the classroom or during the first day of driving.
Let The Students Pick Out The Driving Errors
After the mid point of the course, or towards the end, a good technique is to use one of the students each day to record their classmates driving errors. You will find the students are usually more critical than the instructor. It lets the students observe that if you are tasked with finding errors in driving, common habits are easy to spot, and it lets them help each other out.
Students will usually be honest in their assessments because they know the following day one of the others will be keeping an eye on them.