Top Driving Tips from a Driving Instructor
Getting your driving license can be one of the most exciting times of a young person’s life and breeds freedom and opportunity. But there is also a lot of responsibility that comes with driving, that the thousands of drivers who take to the roads for the first time every day need to remember. There are few professionals who are better poised to ask about the things drivers do wrong on the road than a driving instructor. Charged with providing specialist knowledge and advice, it’s their job to ensure that new drivers are taught everything they know. But it can be tough to ensure that current drivers keep to the standards that allowed them to pass their test.
However, every instructor will tell you that you don’t truly learn until you get out on the road by yourself. Peter Rodger, Chief Examiner at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, says the original test is only the first step towards learning: “What I always say is that what a passed test means is that you are safe to go learning on your own. Really, that is what the test is there to achieve.”
It is well known that a great way to become practiced at anything is by learning from mistakes. When it comes to driving, there are particular mistakes that need to be corrected early or else could become bad habits later in life. As Stephen Mills, instructor with Cardiff’s Lane Wise driving school, explains, there are plenty of experienced drivers making mistakes on the road:
“One huge issue I see every day is people who don’t signal their intentions to other road users and aren’t consciously aware of other people around them. Many collisions are caused by forgetting the blind spot, misjudging distances and switching lanes.” Peter Rodger agrees, saying one of the things drivers do wrong on the road is, “not leaving enough space in front of themselves, not paying enough attention and not taking enough account for the needs of other people.”
There are, of course, always going to be bad instances of driving both for learners and for those who have been driving for many years. When asked the worst thing that someone has done while they’ve been in the car with him, Chief Examiner Peter said: “They will remain nameless, but someone once pulled out from behind a long lorry and attempted to overtake on a muddy road when the overtake wasn’t on. We spun in the road and hit the bank sideways. I was pretty glad to get out of the car it must be said.”
It’s important for driving instructors to note the possible errors in advance that their pupils might make, to avoid potential accidents. “We try to teach possible mistakes in every lesson,” Stephen of Lane Wise explains, “lane hopping, positioning on roundabouts - it’s all important.”
It’s also about self-discipline on the roads. Stephen highlights one of the biggest driving issues and it’s one that doesn’t come from driving skill itself: “Texting is an awful issue on the roads. I had one yesterday while in a lesson, someone using their mobile cut across our lane without as much as a signal. It’s appalling.”
It’s also illegal in motoring terms, and could fetch you a recently increased fine of up to £90 and three penalty points. However, Peter notes that statistics prove it’s not as big an issue as in previous years:
“People often think about the mobile phone as being this massive disaster for road safety but there are relatively few serious incidents every year where the mobile phone is proven to be a significant factor.”
In this modern era, Peter points out, we have ‘good engineering’ at our finger tips when it comes to in-car devices for answering calls.
Driving takes practice and, as technology advances, the driving instructor’s role becomes more and more vital. There are occasions when drivers are asked to retake their tests to check the quality of their driving and their understanding and there are penalties in place to deal with reckless behaviour. As far as basic teaching to the best of their ability goes, Stephen Mills is aware of his role: “Too many accidents are caused by minor mistakes that should be avoided. And that’s what we’re here for.”
published: 12/06/2013 14:00:00