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2. Support Your Clients to Understand Any Motivating Factors And Emotional Responses That May Have Led To Increased Risk

 To develop new drivers who are more wholly equipped to manage their behaviour for themselves post-test, we must also raise their awareness of how their emotions can lead to increased risk and build strategies for future driving to help them recognise when their emotional state might precede rational thought.

Our emotional responses are milliseconds faster than cognitive (thinking) responses; the lighting-fast reactions that bypass the rational brain centres were often survival responses for our distant ancestors. The limbic brain sends us an emotional response to situations before the rational brain can process the incoming signal. Human beings are hard-wired for emotional responses. We are ignoring human nature or expecting our clients to defy human nature. If we only educate learner drivers about general car control and manoeuvring the vehicle through traffic conditions and junctions however essential these two factors might be to safe driving, Bringing emotions into the discussion as early as possible in the learning process is essential to your client’s developing an understanding that their emotions will form the basis of their behaviour as a driver. Helping them to understand how they feel when they are driving at their best and considering any emotions that may have a detrimental impact on their performance can help them to rationalise the role of emotions and the need to recognise and adapt their feelings in situations of risk.

‘How were you feeling at that moment?’

‘What emotions will help you to drive at your best?’

Since our brains store our experiences from an emotional response, a driver with a high level of self-awareness can draw on that experience and decide whether to react emotionally or pause for thought and act rational thought processes to help combat the brain’s natural emotional responses. 

We only need to look to ourselves as drivers to understand the impact our emotional responses can have on our driving. As a driving instructor it’s not unusual for our sense of pride in our professionalism to generally motivate our behaviour behind the wheel of a car, such internal motivations can be extremely effective in promoting safe driving practices. These emotions have a positive impact on our behaviour and keep us in line with our vision of safe driving. However, if we consider a scenario where a loved one had been rushed to hospital, perhaps an elderly relative in their final moments of the birth of a child or grandchild that you desperately want to witness and your only effective method of transportation was to get in the car and drive there. Ask yourself would it be rational thought or the emotional response that motivated your behaviour through that drive?

Raise your client’s self-awareness by asking effective open questions about feelings throughout the learning process, starting as early as possible. Bring these questions to the discussion around safety-critical situations to help your client to understand how their actions might have been influenced by their feeling so that they recognise the different emotions that they will encounter as a driver and the impact they will have on their ability to drive safely. Give your pupils time to explore the even and process the emotional impact and help them to develop strategies for themselves, where they recognise changes to their emotions and act rationally than reacting emotionally. 


The Hermes Project (2007-20100 states:


A limitation of driver training is that there is too much focus in rational thinking and not enough on the senses and emotions.

Self-awareness, as recognised by the third column of the GDE matrix is an important characteristic of a good driver. Self-awareness can only be developed if the learner recognises physical sensations and emotions which often precede rational thought. Knowledge and rational processing of information are not enough to produce awareness. Awareness can only be achieved if the learner emotionally processes an experience. 

Support your pupil through the safety-critical situation and up until you find a safe area of reflection. Illicit feedback from your pupil around their knowledge and understanding of the risk, add input of your own to fill in any blanks or to add value to the learning, bring emotions into the discussion and allow your pupil time to reflect before considering potential consequences and plan new strategies and support levels to help your client develop their knowledge and understanding of their ability to manage risk and of their own risk increasing emotional responses.

The DVSA ADI 1 outlines its competencies as follows:

Indications that all the elements of competence are in place could include:

  • finding a safe place to stop and examine the critical incident
  • allowing the pupil time to express any fears or concerns about the incident might have caused
  • supporting the pupil to reflect clearly on what happened
  • providing input to clarify aspects of the incident that the pupil does not understand
  • support the pupil to identify strategies for future situations
  • providing input where the pupil does not understand what they should do differently
  • checking that the pupil feels able to put the strategy in place
  • agreeing on ways of developing that competence if the pupil feels the need

Indications of lack of competence include:

  • failing to examine the incident
  • taking too long to address issues generated by an incident
  • not allowing the pupil to explore their own understanding
  • telling the pupil what the solution is and not checking their understanding
  • failing to check the pupil’s ability to put in place the agreed strategy

The third and final chapter looks at the eight competencies under Teaching and Learning Strategies and is available to download via the link below

Meet The Standards eBook by Lee Jowett | An Instructors Guide to the Standards Check & Client Centred Learning

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