Did You Know?

The Problem with Instructor Training

Anyone can teach driving can't they?

Lets face facts, anyone who can drive a car thinks that they can teach how to drive and the vast majority of people think that they are better than average drivers. This is often how people want to become instructors in the first place. They get bored with they current job, fancy a career change and think, oh I can do that and the pay isn't that bad.

I qualified as an advanced driver many years before actually deciding to become a driving instructor. Before this training I thought I was better than average as well!

It took roughly 20 minutes of my first lesson before discovering that I was doing what everyone else was doing and then nearly crashed at a roundabout - hmm, not quite as good as I thought.

Of course I rectified my driving by applying advanced driving techniques and it made me a much safer driver as a result.

Years later, during my training to become a fully qualified instructor, I spotted a flaw in the standard way people are trained to become instructors.

A flaw in instructor training

Instructors are taught to the standard required for the driving test and then told to compare what a student does with what they do; if the student does things that the instructor wouldn't then they get told so. I.e fault analysis and correction.

But let's look at that again. Whilst most people gain experience and can see problems arising before they happen with time, they also become complacent and take unnecessary risks. Only recently I read that 70% of qualified people would fail the current driving test if they had to sit it again; mainly for awareness.

Now this means that current instructor training takes a substandard driver, raises them to the MINIMUM level required to pass the driving test and sends them out to teach it.

M.S.P.S.L

An example of this is teaching the M.S.P.S.L routine, Mirrors, Signal, Position, Speed, Look.

This is standard DSA (Driving Standards Agency) teachings for approaching junctions and to be fair it works most of the time. What it teaches is that as you approach a junction, you check your mirrors, signal to others, plonk the car where you want it, reduce your speed then start looking around.

So technically, you can drive down the road not paying any attention to what is going on around you and as long as you check your mirrors before indicating at the junction, the examiners can't penalise you.

It then breaks Look in L.A.D.A, Look, Assess, Decide, Act. Well I don't know about you, but when I come up to junctions, I don't generally need reminding to look and make a decision on if I can survive the next 2 minutes; I naturally do that! But this is what the DSA say we should teach and so time after time, instructors teach this. Which means you're paying to be taught stuff you already do - well that sounds rubbish!

I.P.S.G.A

Now, unless you have done advanced driving you wouldn't know about IPSGA and so therefore wouldn't know that it is a better routine to teach (hence why the Police and Driving Examiners are taught it). It stands for Information (in and out), Position, Speed, Gear, Accelerate.

The Information part is carried out all the time you are doing the PSGA parts so your awareness and therefore decision making is far better. You are reminded about things that you might forget to do, such as gear changing!

It doesn't remind you to do stuff you're already doing!!!

Scenario

Let's take the scenario of us turning into our driveway on the right; whilst we are getting nearer to our house there is a motorbike overtaking vehicles behind us and is getting nearer and nearer.

MSPSL teaches us it's ok to drive along and only look when we intend to do something. Most learners treat mirror and signal as one thing and do them together. If I was on a motorbike overtaking and a learner suddenly indicated right in front of me, I would poo my pants and have to either brake hard or accelerate hard, both of which could become dangerous very quickly. If you affect other road users on your test; you can easily fail your test!

IPSGA teaches us to continuously look around and consider the dangers associated with just 'plonking on an indicator'.

In the same scenario, we would know that the motorbike was approaching; we can now:

  1. Change speed so that the bike passes us before the turning or we get the the turning sooner whilst the bike is still a safe distance away.
  2. Position more to the right to block the motorbike thus keeping him safe when it's time to indicate.
  3. Indicate earlier than usual to give early warning to not overtake us.

As you can see, the requirements are met for the driving test, in both instances, mirrors were checked before indicating but using IPSGA you have demonstrated a greater awareness and safer driving technique that considers others. If you know something bad is going to happen, you would do something about it before it becomes bad. If you don't know what's going on, how can you make a good decision?

Both ways comply with the driving test but which way do you think is better?

Conclusion

So, the majority of instructors are taken from substandard to MINIMUM standard but advanced instructors are ADVANCED and teach you how to stay alive! It doesn't take any longer to teach one technique over the other (in fact IPSGA is actually quicker to learn so you need fewer lessons).

I have used the main training point as my example but there are lots of other areas where the standard training is, well, inadequate and dangerous in my opinion.

Most instructors have no history in training and so just fall into it; I have over 20 years of training people to do technical things in a fun way.

Have a look at my statistics page to see what standard training delivers. Less than 40% of people pass first time yet my students are above 70%, over 90% pass within 2 attempts and that's mainly due to test nerves getting in the way (going blank or panic setting in rather than poor driving standards as such). As the average cost of a test is about £110, how many tests can you afford to take?

Mix all of the above in with my 20+ years of teaching and you will learn safe driving in a fun yet professional environment. I even have LEGO models of cars to demonstrate how they work!

I use modern coaching techniques, not just talking at you:
Say it, forget it,
See it, remember it most of the time,
Work it out yourself and do it, remember it for life!

Sometimes all you need is a few words, sometimes a photo, other times standing by a roundabout watching traffic flow; the skill is knowing when to apply the training technique!

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want to be taught by an instructor who has passed their Advanced Driving?
  • Do you want to be taught by someone who was in the top 2% to pass all their exams first time because they work hard?
  • Do you want to be taught how to drive using the same methodology as taught to the Police and Driving Examiners?
  • Do you want to be taught by someone who continually develops themself and takes extra courses to keep them at the top of their game?
  • Do you want someone who CAN teach you adverse weather driving because HE IS a skid control instructor at Goodwood circuit.
  • Do you want to learn something new on EVERY lesson?
  • Do you want value for money? - im not cheapest or most expensive but ALL my students agree that you get real value for money.
  • Do you want to be safe and keep you and those around you alive?
  • Do you want a professionally dressed and reliable instructor in a modern safe car that meets current crash regulations?
  • Do you want someone who REALLY cares about your progress?
  • Do you want someone flexible in their availability and teaching locations?
  • Do you want someone who listens to you and adapts their lessons so that you develop at your pace and not just railroads you into what they want to teach?
  • Do you want a record of your progress so that you KNOW that you are progressing and not being strung along?

FACTS:

  • Fact: Did you know that to be a driving instructor you don't have to be an advanced driver?
  • Fact: The vast majority of instructors have done no extra training other than to meet the minimum standard to get a licence.
  • Fact: There are a large number of people teaching with a trainee licence who have not passed the final exams.
  • Fact: Only a small percentage of instructors actually continue further self education and training to improve as they go on.
  • Fact: Most instructors teach you to approach roundabouts in 2nd gear, i.e at speed. The Police are not taught to do this because it's dangerous - check to see what they teach before picking other instructors!

What do I do?

Contact me and let's get you on the road!