So the day has come. You have finally passed your driving
test! The feeling of happiness and a massive weight lifted off your shoulders
is immense. All those months of lessons and all of the money that you have
spent has finally given you something that every young person craves…. “Independence
With the independence and freedom also comes a lot of responsibility.
It will be the first time that you will have driven a car by yourself. It will
be the first time that you will drive without anyone next to you telling you
what to do. You will have to make every decision by yourself. Some of the
decisions that you will have to make may be to deal with things that you may
not have encountered before e.g. emergency vehicles, a real life emergency stop
or parking in the real world either in a busy car park or between two cars.
However there may also be things you may encounter that may
not always be scary like your first drive to McDonalds! It’s nearly always the
first place young drivers go when they pass their driving test. In fact it’s
something that I sometimes include on a lesson if a pupil wants to. The reason
for that is that it’s part of real life driving. Some of the McDonald’s drive-throughs
can be tight for space and can cause pupils to potentially hit the kerb or
worse still clip a metal post as they negotiate a bend. These sort of skills
are often overlooked on driving lessons but they offer a great lesson. What’s
more the pupil gets a McFlurry of whatever else they want, on me! More
importantly I get a “cheeky cappu” !
Since I started teaching people to drive 16 years ago, I
have come across a number of pupils who are nervous about driving. Most people
who come to my driving school who are nervous feel like they are the only ones
who feel like this. In fact feeling nervous about driving is fairly common. A
good opening question that a driving instructor could ask is “how are you
feeling about learning to drive?” Never be afraid to tell your instructor truly
how you feel.
In the past I have made the mistake of assuming the pupil
was fine and that the more I encouraged them the better it would be and the
quicker they would learn. After years of experience I have discovered this is
normally not the case in most pupils.
No two pupils are the same. There is not a “one size fits
all” solution. It is important to adapt lessons to suit each individual.
There are 4 main learning styles:
Visual – some pupils like to see diagrams, demonstrations
and videos of how to drive
Auditory – some pupils like to listen to an explanation
Read – some pupils will want to read lots of information
possibly from a book and they may also like to take lots of notes
Kinaesthetic – some pupils learn by trial and error i.e.
they want to give it a go and see how it feels
A nervous pupil is not normally someone who will be kinaesthetic. They are more likely to be one of the other three. By asking “how best would you like to learn this” may result in the pupil simply telling you what they prefer and how they learn best. However some pupils literally don’t know their preferred style so a better why is to provide some options. For example many people don’t instinctively know that a demonstration is an option unless I offer it to them. I know myself that I learn best from seeing something done first and many other people do too.
Another option is “job sharing” which is a way to help the pupil focus on one task while you take care of other aspects of the drive. For example I may offer the option for me to take control of the speed of the car while the pupil takes care of the steering. By taking away the need to worry about the speed, the pupil is able to focus fully on the steering. In time the job of controlling the speed can be handed back to the pupil.
A breakdown on your driving lessons in Newbury is something
that can happen to anyone, as happened to one of my pupils who took lessons in
his own car. It’s something that thankfully doesn’t happen too often. However
when it does it normally takes us by surprise and it’s easy to find that you’re
not prepared for it.
In order to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown, be sure to
have your car regularly serviced by a reputable garage. Regular services can
hopefully eliminate many of the problems that may well cause a breakdown. It
can also highlight any potential problems that may need resolving before they
become a major problem.
Keep a check on your own car too. A service is normally
carried out around 12,000 miles, or 12 months, whichever comes sooner. It also
depends on the car when the service takes place. However in between services
regularly check things like oil, water, brake fluid which can all be found
under the bonnet. Also keep a check of your tyres for correct pressures and
tread depth. This includes the spare. Many people are unaware that an illegal
spare tyre can give you 3 points on your licence.
When you do breakdown there are a number of things to do.
Make sure that you try your best to stop your car in a safe place. If possible,
stop the car on the hard shoulder of the motorway or at the side of the road.
When you exit the vehicle be careful when you open the door and step out.
Staying safe after you pass your driving test is something
that isn’t taught and something that most people don’t even think about. We
take driving for granted and can often feel that once we are in our cars we are
safe from any danger. We create a bubble around ourselves that we feel is impenetrable.
Women in particular should be aware of where you park your
car. You may park your car in the daytime when there may be a lot of people
around. However you may return at night when it’s dark and the car park may be
Try not to park in the furthest corner or the
highest floor of a car park.
Reverse into the bay so if you need to make a
speedy getaway then it will be easier.
When returning to your car, don’t be distracted
by looking at social media on your phone.
Look around and be mindful if you suspect
someone may be lurking around.
Have your keys out of your pocket or handbag
while walking to your car so that you can quickly unlock the door, get in and
lock the door immediately.
If you are really nervous there may be a car
park attendant who you could ask to escort you to your vehicle.
If someone wants your phone, wallet, handbag etc
then give it to them. Your life is worth more than your possessions.
This is only one aspect of staying safe when driving. There
are many other scenarios that we need to look at which we will cover on another
One thing I like pupils to do is to fill the car up with fuel whilst on their driving lessons. There was a time when I would “never” fill my car during a lesson. I would always fill up at the end of the day so as to start the next day with a full tank.
However I realised that it is something that I take for granted and that many pupils would have no idea how to do it. I ask them to fill the car up while I talk them through it. For example, do you know what the little arrow next to the petrol pump symbol means in the picture above? It tells you which side the fuel cap is located. So it helps you to decide which side of the pump you should park. Having said that, modern pumps and hoses are normally long enough to stretch to the other side of the car. If you do park on the “wrong” side of the pump then you need to take extra care with your positioning i.e. park a little closer to the pump and be sure that the back of your car is level with the hose. That way you will minimise the amount that the hose will have to stretch.
Another useful tip is to always take your keys out of the car and lock the door when going into the kiosk to pay. A fair percentage of car thefts happen on petrol forecourts when people leave their keys in the ignition. If your car isn’t stolen then your mobile phone or any other valuable may be. This is especially true of a night time. There are lots of other useful tips we talk through too.
AT Peter Skelton Driving School we don’t believe that our customers should only learn enough to pass their driving test. We try to teach many of the skills that they will need in the real world after they pass. For more information please take a look at the rest of our website.
So the end of another year and another decade. We decided to run a little Christmas Jumper day and for those who either did or didn’t have a Christmas Jumper we added a Santa hat too.
“So not much to do with driving” you may say. That’s very true. However we took a few minutes at the end of a lesson so as not to eat into the pupils time to don our hats and have a little fun. This may not be driver related however one thing that is teaching related is building a good “rapport”, i.e. building good relationships with our clients. This can be done in a number of ways:
taking an interest in the client
matching the teaching to the clients preferred learning style
There are many other ways to build rapport, but these are just a few. Not only that, the above list has to be genuine, you can’t fake rapport. It’s a big part of the learning process for a number of reasons:
the client feels more relaxed on lessons
they are able to attempt something without the feeling of a lecture if they get it wrong
the client feels free to ask any question without feeling judged or nervous to ask in case they are ridiculed
it can open up questions that the pupil can engage in to help them deal with real life situations e.g. “how would you feel if you were a passenger in a friends car and they picked up their phone and started texting?”
One pupil recently came to our driving school had 4 years of lessons with another school. Her driving was fairly good to be honest however what she lacked was confidence. It was the rapport that we built very quickly that allowed her to overcome her fears and pass her test first time within 1 month of lessons with us. In her own words “I have learned more in the last month than I did in the last 4 years”
What a great week it’s been teaching pupils to drive. In particular conducting intensive driving courses in both Basingstoke and in Newbury. We have also taught a number of very nervous pupils and helped them to overcome their nerves. Not everyone is suited or even wants an intensive course but for those who do it can provide a much quicker route to passing the practical driving test.
Many intensive driving companies simply ask the pupils to “guess” how many hours they think they will need. They then book online that number of hours which are normally in blocks of 10hrs. The driving test is booked for maybe a Friday. The pupil then meets the instructor maybe on the Monday morning for the very first time without knowing whether they will be happy working with them or not. The course then begins. The instructor may well after 15 minutes of driving be thinking “There’s no way I can get this pupil ready for test in the hours that have been allotted!!!” However it’s often too late to do anything about it. It may be too late to cancel the driving test, the instructor may not have any extra time to squeeze extra lessons in, the pupil may be unwilling to pay for extra lessons. The pupil may well then take the test unprepared.
At Peter Skelton Driving School, the course always starts with an assessment lesson which may be taken many weeks before the test. By doing this we are able to assess how good the pupil is currently. This applies to pupils who have never driven before and to those who have some driving experience. An honest opinion is then given as to how many hours are required. A plan is then made to tailor the course to the pupils requirements. You also get the chance to meet your instructor first so make sure that you are happy with how they teach and how well you get on. This is particularly important for nervous pupils.
We can also offer pupils the opportunity to take the lessons as a more “semi-intensive course” i.e. spreading the course out over a few weeks rather than a few days. The advantage of this is; it can be easier to process the learning over a longer period of time, there is the option to add more lessons if the pupil is struggling a little, we can subtract some lessons if the pupil is progressing better then expected, or even the option if the pupil decides to postpone the test.
All intensive courses that we provide are different and tailored to your needs. We also offer the option of weekend and evening intensive courses so that pupils don’t miss time off school, college or work.
At Peter Skelton Driving School we appreciate that many pupils come to us who are nervous about driving. We always take pupils fears seriously and as such always tailor the pace of lessons to the pupils needs. Through coaching instead of traditional instructing we will ask a pupil if they feel happy to try something new.
Some pupils who are very nervous can benefit from a great technique we use to help calm an anxious mind. It involves meditation techniques that pupils can use in between lessons to help them whilst driving during a stressful situation. In fact the meditation method can be used in all sorts of situations, not only driving related. This can be used as a way to help calm pupils who may be facing exam nerves too. We will update this blog on recent events and successes we encounter.
Well a successful week. Alex Harvey completed an intensive driving course in Newbury. There were times when he doubted that he may be able to be ready for his test on Thursday, however we worked hard together and he passed first time with only 2 minor marks. He also gave me this great review.
“I’ve been through 3 driving instructors and Peter was by far the best!
His attention to detail and being thorough with every aspect of driving safely was consistent and calmly executed. Admittedly, there were points where on more than one occasion I found myself flustered from an obvious mistake, but having Peter take the time to pause and regain my confidence really helped. The extended/harder mock tests he ran made the real test a breeze!
His faith never ceased and I thank you for all your help and support.”
Peter Skelton Driving School now provide intensive driving courses in Basingstoke in partnership with one of our specialist intensive instructors who teaches in the Basingstoke area. The benefit of intensive driving courses is that you are able to take your driving test with 1 or 2 weeks of intensive or semi-intensive lessons. Traditional 1 hour lessons can take upwards of 12 months before you can pass a driving test. All pupils will receive an assessment lesson to help us work out how many hours any pupil will be needed in order to take a test. We can also book your driving test for you and we can use our search facility to find you a cancellation test if time is of the essence.
We can also offer an intensive course during weekends and evenings over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. That allows you the benefit of taking an intensive course without the need to take valuable holiday time off work.
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