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Parents and supervisors

Supervising driver tips

Some supervising drivers feel inadequately equipped. Remember, your experience is invaluable and chances are you have an established relationship and a positive influence in your learner driver's life. Above all, your power as a role model to your learner should not be under-estimated. Either way, here are some effective teaching tips...

Stay calm

If either of you feel tired or stressed, postpone the session. Too much stress during your driving sessions is not good. You'll both perform better if you have a relaxed, friendly experience. If necessary, take over the driving task.


Plan driving sessions, from simpler driving to more demanding situations. Start on quiet streets and slowly progress to busier roads before attempting driving at night and higher speeds. Get your learner to work out a route they would like to travel.

Giving instructions

Learners need clear instructions. Early directions give the learner time to think ahead and ask questions. Use the 'At, When, Do' method with your Learner. e.g. "At the next street, when there's a safe gap, turn left".

Total concentration

Turn your mobile, the radio or any music off… so your learner driver has your full attention.

Role model behaviour

It's been shown that parental driving habits and attitudes influence a learner's driving behaviour before they begin learning to drive, so a supervisor's focus and behaviour is crucial.

This five-step model will help your learner achieve their goals.

Step 1: Explain

  • Explain what you're about to teach and its importance.
  • Outline the logical process.
  • Ask for questions to check you're fully understood.
  • Wait until the car is parked before giving feedback or explanations.

Step 2: Demonstrate (You must drive)

  • Show the learner exactly what you want done.
  • Show the steps slowly.
  • Show the correct procedure.

Step 3: Practice

  • Check your learner knows exactly what to do.
  • Start with simple situations.
  • Ask for an explanation of what the task involves.
  • Allow several practices of a new process.

Step 4: Feedback

All feedback should be:

  • Positive. Give praise for tasks done well.
  • Immediate. Ask the learner to park first then give feedback on what's occurred. But, try not to interrupt their focus.
  • Relevant. Keep your feedback specific. Too much can confuse the learner.
  • Specific. Avoid general "Drive safely", "Drive smoothly" or "Don't speed" comments. Focus on particular actions, like "We should have slowed down for that last bend because we had limited vision." Keep it to key points.

Step 5: Recap

  • Review the main points from your session.
  • Don't add new information at this stage.

Tips for better learner supervision

When working with your learner driver:

  • Use the competency based training tasks in the CBT section of The Driving Companion as a guide to practice sessions.
  • Master easiest tasks first, then the more difficult skills.
  • Discuss then demonstrate new tasks before the learner attempts them.
  • Use 'commentary driving' where you both describe what's happening inside and outside the car.
  • Start on quiet streets in daylight, before busier road conditions.
  • Let your learner learn at their pace.
  • Don't criticise mistakes. Discuss the task and try again. If things get tense, take a break.
  • Praise the learner when praise is due.
  • Teach the importance of developing a sensitivity to speed.
  • The faster a vehicle travels, the harder it is to respond to hazards.
  • The faster a vehicle travels in a crash, the worse the outcome.

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