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3. Divide responsibilities for risk outside of the learning goals and needs.

Probably the most sensible way to look at this is to consider the level of support you would normally deliver to your client on a similar route, considering their general competence but again get them to consider their thoughts and feelings given the context of the journey they are taking today, where possible relate this too drives they might make post-test, perhaps driving a parent for the first time, or the difference having friends in the car might make to their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. You shouldn’t generally offer too much more support through this part of the drive than you would normally offer as this can be detrimental to their development. Discuss the route to the training area and divide responsibilities for any particularly hazardous or complex junctions or perhaps platforms you haven’t encountered yet. Perhaps there’s a multi-lane roundabout they will need talking through or meeting situations that will need to be managed. Breaking down the learning into manageable chunks and giving them as much responsibility as they are capable of, allows them to focus on achieving their goals.

Discuss and agree on a level of support for the general drive, decide how they will let you know if they are struggling to cope with any detrimental feelings, and how you will help. Agree on the levels of support for risk managing difficult situations en route to the practise area and reassure your client that you are there to support them whenever necessary to keep the car safe. Outline exactly what they can expect when the car moves. 

Ensure that during periods of reflection, any changes to the planned responsibilities are agreed upon, and again outline what they can expect before moving off for more practise or when heading back to the test centre at the end of the session.

Whilst the car is moving your client should be aware of when and how you will support them and what methods of support they can expect you to use (verbal support and instruction, emotional support, physical support via dial controls) as a result of the conversations you have had before moving away. you will discuss them as part of a conversation, so it’s always a good idea to reiterate clearly and concisely what you have agreed before moving off. 

So for example if you are teaching a beginner to move off under control, drive a little down the road and change gears before stopping and have agreed that they want to have a go without instruction you might say:

So when the car moves I’m going to leave you to control the car in every way, you can just focus on the controls as we agreed and practise with getting the car moving, changing into second gear and stopping in a suitable area that I will point out to you. I will keep the car safe in every other respect, including all the observations before moving off, before changing gears and before stopping. I will tell you if it is unsafe to move off and if I do so I’d like you to keep your feet where they are and keep the handbrake applied until I tell you it is now safe. I might talk you through something if it’s safe to do so, I might use the dual controls or perhaps shift the gear or apply an indicator but only if I need to, to keep the car safe or help you. Otherwise, I will leave these things to you. If I do intervene we will discuss it once we’ve pulled up in a suitable location.

Another scenario might be with a part-trained learner who wants to develop their ability to position the car when turning right at a busy traffic light junction

When the car moves I’m going to leave you to take responsibility for most of the things along the route to the practise area, as you normally would. I am going to talk you through your positioning as we approach the spiral roundabout that we discussed and talk you through keeping in the lane. I may even adjust your position if I take the wheel, and you can take over again when I let go. Once we get to the practise area, we’ve discussed that you are happy to take responsibility for the approach into the junction if we have to wait to turn, As we are entering the junction, I will give you a reference for where to stop if we have to stop. Otherwise, I will let you deal with the junction independently unless I need to intervene to help you or to keep the car safe. 

We have discussed how you might feel regarding the situation today, so if at any point you do feel stressed or anxious along the route let me know and I will increase the level of support by giving you more guided instruction as we agreed. If I’ve intervened in any way, we will pull up for reflection and decide if we need to adjust the plan or the level of responsibility at all before we move off for more practise. ”

In agreeing on the division of the responsibilities for risk, we are enabling the client in these scenarios to focus on their own needs and goals, safe in the knowledge that they will get the support they think they need, as well as any additional help they may be unaware that they need. By including the learner in the conversation and giving them some responsibility for dividing the responsibilities for risk, they are already forming strategies for risk management and becoming self-aware of their abilities and limitations as well as having them consider how thoughts, feelings and human factors can increase risk. If we use periods of reflection to help them plan new strategies to reduce risk and consider how any human factors they experience in the drive could manifest in their driving beyond the driving test, we give them context for safer driving post-test. Helping them plan coping strategies they can use in similar situations to stay safe as a driver. 


The DVSA ADI 1 Outlines its competencies as follows:

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

  • asking the pupil what is meant by risk
  • asking the pupil what sorts of issues create risk such as the use of alcohol or drugs
  • explaining clearly what is expected of the pupil and what the pupil can reasonably expect if the ADI
  • checking that the pupil understands what is required of the when there is a change of plan or they are  asked to repeat an exercise

Indication of lack of competence include:

  • failing to address the issue of risk management
  • giving incorrect guidance about where responsibility lies for the management of risk
  • failing to explain how dial controls will be used
  • undermining the pupil’s commitment to being safe and responsible, e.g by agreeing with risky attitudes to alcohol use
  • asking the pupil to repeat a maneouvre or carry out a particular exercise without making sure that they understand what role the ADI is going to play

Below is a model for Goal setting and risk management devised by Sue McCormack at Tri-Coaching partnership:

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