What do I need to do to do well here:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings and raise your pupil’s awareness of theirs

It is essential that the instructor is constantly scanning for hazards both ahead along the route and also for any upcoming hazards to the rear. As well as having a focus on the pupil to help you to determine whether their focus is on any potential safety-critical situations or whether it is elsewhere. Wherever possible remain silent to allow your pupil the responsibility for and to focus attention on managing the risk, providing they are competent enough and that it is what you have agreed. However, if it’s necessary to intervene, perhaps your pupil hasn’t seen the pedestrian approaching the Zebra crossing or maybe they just aren’t responding as is required in a meeting situation, use leading questions, time permitting, to refocus your client on the importance of the danger ahead or behind

Leading questions are a call to action to raise the client’s awareness, thus allowing them to then take the responsibility for managing the risk, by acting appropriately to the hazard.

‘ have you noticed the cyclist up ahead? ‘

‘ When will you slow down for the upcoming bend? ‘

Use areas of reflection along the route to discuss any potential safety-critical situations they may have managed or where you may have intervened verbally or physically. In this case, at the side of the road, open questions are an effective method to help raise awareness in your clients of their response to or lack of response to any risk and help them to consider where their thoughts were or how they were feeling in that moment

Commentary driving can not only be an effective method of raising your pupil’s awareness of their surroundings, as discussed in the first chapter of this book ‘Lesson Planning’, but research has also shown it can raise awareness in new drivers that are similar to an experienced driver. It can also help them to remedy human factors such as stress and anxiety. Often where pupils suffer from anxieties, the physical act of driving and its complexities and pressures can lead them into a Phobic cycle. Commentary driving can be an effective remedy for some drivers in this regard, distracting the inner thoughts of the human brain, as it focuses the learner to switch off from its negative emotional response cycle and concentrate on the reality of what is happening.

Gain agreement from the pupil that they feel this strategy might be helpful and set levels of support that allow them to practise in a safe environment. Don’t expect the learner to be of a similar standard to you when practising commentary. It’s quite possible that they won’t want to verbalise what they are focusing on and that’s fine, they can focus on the road ahead and its furthest point or the next hazard and still feel and see the benefits to their thoughts, feelings and driving behaviour.

Therefore, you must pay close attention to your pupil’s actions as well as the surroundings and look for clues that they might be distracted, overloaded or struggling with their feelings or emotions. 

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