A Driving Instructor's Blog

This old post is experiencing a renaissance. Also have a look at Coaching + Having A Laugh and The Driving Test Marking Sheet. Oh, and Coaching And The Driving Instructor .

UPDATE: The DSA has now embarked on its implementation of coaching, so read this article posted in November 2012.

There’s a debate/argument going on on one of the forums (the one where the crazy people all go) about the GDE Matrix and “coaching”.

In a nutshell, you have one group who believe that no ADI currently instructs properly unless they have been trained to “coach” using the GDE Matrix, and another group who believes that the GDE Matrix is anything from a complete waste of time all the way up to just putting into a lot of words what they already do.

One poster has said:

Imagine a 18 year old, who in training are great but how will their behaviour change going to meet a friend with 3 of his mates in the car. What is his main goals for this journey? Well, almost certainly to get there safely, but what other goals are there here? Perhaps showing his mates what a good driver he is? What could this mean in practice? Possibly driving quickly? And what happens if these goal causes a misjudgement – crash!

Behaviour is related to context, encouraging a driver to recognise this and to develop coping strategies is what level 3, is about, as well as the environmental issues outlined above. Of course the next question is how do your raise this awareness and get past the ‘Oh no I would never do anything like that, I will always drive exactly how you taught me’ response? Well one approach is coaching.

Tonight, after my last lesson, I was nipping to the local Asda. As I came down Loughborough Road, past the fire station where the speed limit drops from 40mph to 30, I noticed a silver Corsa (blacked out windows, of course) come flying up behind me. He came right up to tailgate me, then decided to overtake – which meant he had to go around one of those pedestrian islands – right outside West Bridgford school – on the opposite side of the road. There was a car coming the opposite way.

As usual, the little moron got away with it. But I bet mummy and daddy don’t know he drives like that. But if they did know, would they care? They’re probably out telling everyone how good he is.

You see, this is where the problem lies. It isn’t the driving instructor’s fault that little Johnny or Laurie drive like prats. It’s the parents who are to blame – for never having said “no”, and for buying their little darlings pratmobiles to try and kill themselves in.

You see it time and time again. There is no way some greasy-faced little chav can afford a brand new Corsa (certainly not as many of them as you see driving the damned things). It’s mummy and daddy again. It’s also mummy and daddy who are to blame for letting little Johnny get the sports model, fit a noisy exhaust, stick blue LEDs all over it, get a dodgy licence plate, and get the windows blacked out. In fact, all the things that say “I’m going to drive this like I’m at the Monaco Grand Prix, even though the ink is still wet on my licence”.

I recently got the urge (again) to get my motorcycle licence. I remember when I was 17, my dad told me that if I ever got a motorbike he’d kick me out of the house. When I told him I was planning to do it this time, he said if I did it while he was still alive he’d disown me. He meant it, too.

My, how things have changed.

But back to this crap about “coaching” people. The implication is always that by coaching someone on driving lessons, you can turn a pot-smoking hoodie into a prime minister. This is total bollocks.

As the example from tonight shows (and this is something I see every day – it isn’t just a one-off), these prats drive the way they want to . The only input an ADI can have is to make sure they at least know how to drive properly. That they have been given the right tools and taught to use them.

But whether they choose to use them is not going to be influenced by their driving instructor, with whom they spend around 40 hours in total. Over the 20 weeks or so that they have those 40 hours of driving lessons, they spend another 3,300 hours with mummy and daddy and their idiot friends. That’s 1% of their time on lessons, 99% with mummy and daddy and primates similar to themselves.

It isn’t hard to see where the responsibility for them driving like prats really lies.

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