Back to Basics

In previous articles we have covered ways to utilize technology in your training programs. After attending a recent driver training conference, it was clear that some time needs to be spent on the basic things we as driving instructors do. This article was written to assist instructors in remembering the little things.

After speaking with some of you over the past month, I concluded that some people need to take it back and spend some time on the basic principles.

  • Why We Do It: Your purpose is to teach people basic driving skills, and not just enough to pass the test. Passing the test is bonus or byproduct of quality driver education, not the reason for it. Remember, they will drive on the same streets as you and your loved ones.

  • Pre-Drive Inspection: Every student, every time they drive, should be doing a pre-drive inspection of the vehicle. More often than not, instructors are either in a hurry or just too lazy to have the students conduct even a basic pre-drive check. How is a student supposed to form good habits if they are not enforced from the very beginning of the students driving career?

  • Crashes: It’s simple: if you allow your student to hit something, it is your fault as an instructor. You are not there to sit in the passenger seat and just say “left” or “right.” You must have control of the vehicle AT ALL TIMES! This is something I have discussed with instructors many times and it will usually end up with an instructor slightly angry with me, but the facts are the facts. You are responsible for both your student and the vehicle, as if you were in the driver’s seat.

  • Breaks vs Brakes: Sitting in the car for hours can really take its toll on instructors. Be sure to use the same rule used when teaching students about fatigue. A good rule of thumb is to stop every 100 miles or every two hours. Be careful around your “down time,” most people experience “lows” between approximately midnight and 6 a.m., and again between approximately two to four p.m.

  • Practice what You Preach: Very simply put: if you talk the talk, walk the walk. Always wear your safety belt, don’t ever say “do as I say, not as I do,” adjust your head restraint, and always use your turn signals.

These simple rules will increase your credibility not only with your students but with school owners as well. Remember, we are here to teach people to drive, not to pass a test. Be safe out there!