Common Instructor Errors

Driver Education and Traffic Safety instructors have a lot of responsibility. We manage and juggle schedules, care for and coach our students, and must honor rules, regulations, and policies set forth by our employers and regulating government agencies. Sometimes, in the daily hustle-bustle of going about our business, we make mistakes. Let’s look at some of those errors and see if we can convert them into opportunities for improvement.


  • Late-starting / early-ending in-car and classroom instructional sessions. As tempting as it might be to cut time corners, when we do this, we’re not providing our students – or their parents – what they have paid for. Not only that, we may fail to conform to state-imposed minimum instructional contact time requirements. That can lead to sanctions and other penalties.
  • Tending to personal business during classroom instructional contact time. This can be an instructor stepping away from students while a video is playing, so as to head outside to smoke or vape. It could also be an instructor tending to matters using a phone or desk computer. These are actions we surely would not tolerate from our students.
  • Related to the preceding error: ignoring – or being unaware of – off-track student behavior
  • Tending to personal business during in-car instructional contact time can take the form of running errands, visiting friends, and “dropping by the house real quick.” Again, our customers are not paying our employers and us to do these things – we’re supposed to be teaching.
  • “Willy-nilly” driving – exploring; not adhering to approved in-car instructional route plans
  • Not being aware of and /or not adhering to prescribed knowledge, performance, and skill objectives
  • Incorporating unauthorized and /or off-topic content
  • Lack of planning and preparation
  • Excessive lethargy and overt apathy – the instructor who says something like, “Look, we all know Drivers Ed is boring. This material is dry. Let’s just get through this…”. How in the world can we expect our students to be more interested in what we’re teaching than WE are? (The answer: we cannot)
  • Being uninformed or not up-to-date – there’s a lot of content to keep current with, especially in the areas of Vehicle Technology and Drug-Impaired Driving
  • Insufficient (or no) session briefings and / or debriefing – Set the Stage! Unpack the Trip!
  • Sloppy in-car teaching tactics and techniques


      Be aware of – and guard against – committing these errors, and others similar to them. Anything we instructors can reasonably and easily do to add polish and professionalism to our trade, we should do. Better student / customer experiences result in positive goodwill, referrals and repeat business, and enhanced standing with our employers and the agencies that regulate them … and us.

      In a future Accelerator edition, we’ll examine how what we say – and the way we say it – is important to effective teaching and learning.