3. Build awareness and responsibility in your clients

The Hermes Project (2007-2010) states:


Building awareness and responsibility is the essence of good coaching (Whitmore, 2022). A high state of awareness is required for driving, both in terms of awareness of the outside world (what is happening around me?) and in terms of self-awareness (how do I feel and what do I feel). To be in control and therefore to be able to drive safely, you have to be aware of these inner and outer worlds. It follows therefore that anything you are unaware of controls yo. ” Building awareness and reposbisbility is the essential of good coaching”. – John Whitmore

Effective open questions focus on the thoughts and feelings of our clients and help both instructor and learner understand their strengths, limitations and barriers, what motivated that piece of driving at that time? was it their focus that enabled them to deal with the safety-critical situation independently or was it perhaps their feelings of anxiety that prevented them from taking action?

What were your thoughts once you’d noticed the cyclist? ‘

‘ How were you feeling as we approached that last bend? ‘

‘ What is it about the speed that excites you? ‘

‘ Are there any risks involved? ‘

Using these open questions allows your client to explore their strengths and weaknesses, their motivations and personality traits that will form the basis of their driving style since the person that they are and the beliefs that they hold about themselves and their views on the world won’t disappear when they sit in the driver’s seat of their car.  Research suggests that we express our personality traits more readily inside the protective shell of a car than we would perhaps in a queue at our local shops. These open questions provide the answer that only they have since we have no way of knowing our client’s inner beliefs thoughts and feelings, our role is in helping them to assess any risk-increasing factors they might have in their personality (e.g excitement, fatigue, focus) and to allow them to figure out strategies that they can use as a driver to stay safe, once they become aware of any changes to their normal behaviour or emotional state.

More questions that you could use to raise awareness in your clients and to raise your awareness of your client could be as follows:

What do you see, what can you hear, how do you feel, what do you feel?

These questions allow receiving a broad field of feedback from your pupil around the environment, the body, your pupil’s actions and the car they are driving.

It’s essential as an ADI that we are constantly switching focus from the external risk to internal risks, both inside the car and also the thoughts and feelings of the person who’s controlling it. Being aware of both the surroundings and your pupil’s actions helps you to understand the focus of your learner and be more aware of when your input is necessary and when remaining silent will help them to achieve the goal as well as be responsible for their safety, building their sense and responsibility and achievement.

It also enables you to take appropriate and timely intervention if your pupil fails to recognise or respond to an upcoming hazard.

It is essential that we raise awareness in our pupils of the need to focus on the external hazards they will face as a driver and the internal risks they face as a person.

The DVSA ADI 1 States:

This question lies at the heart of the ADI’s professional skill. They should be able to:

  • take in the outside world
  • observe the actions of the pupil, including comments and body language
  • judge whether those actions are suitable in any given situation
  • respond accordingly

Any serious lapses in this area are likely to lead to a 0 marking

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