It’s a good idea to plan your practice routes before you get into the car for a lesson – especially when your learner driver is still on the basics.
Planning your routes carefully will allow your learner to practise specific skills and then build on them in future sessions. This helps them gain confidence and a sense of achievement and progress.
As a coach, planned practice routes help you give instructions earlier and more clearly. You’ll also feel more comfortable when your learner is behind the wheel.
Consider the day of the week and the time of the session. This can have a big impact on the amount of traffic they’ll have to deal with.
Work out what skills you both want to work on, so you don’t try to cover too much in each session.
For beginners, practice routes should be less than 30 minutes. Anything over that is a long time for someone to concentrate, especially when they’re new to driving.
Once your learner has got the basics—can indicate correctly, check mirrors and blind spots without being reminded—then you can make the sessions about an hour long.
Teach your learner the basics of driving somewhere without traffic first. The next step is to practise driving skills on a quiet road.
Plan each session by choosing the type of road, speed zone, amount of traffic that’s right for the session and matches your learner’s level of ability. Think about hazards that need to be included or avoided.
Learning to drive is a progression, so make sure to think about this when planning. Start with simple situations with little or no traffic and build up to more difficult situations with more traffic.
Don’t ask them to drive you on everyday trips like going to the shops until they have the basics and can drive well around other traffic. You don’t want to risk safety by putting your learner in an unsafe situation they’re not ready to deal with.
Here are some suggested places to practise:
Not all settings your learner needs to practise in may be close to you. For example, you may live in an area where there are no hills. In this situation, try to think of a creative solution – you may still be able to practise hill starts if you can find a slope where the car would roll back if the hill start is done incorrectly.
Remember that even though your learner may not need certain skills straight away – depending on the area they live in, they may need them later on if they travel or move to a different place.
Once your learner is confident and more experienced, start letting them take responsibility for planning the route. To do this:
It’s a good idea to keep a record of what routes you and your learner have completed together. Repeating routes too many times can be boring and your learner doesn’t get to apply and practise what they’ve learnt in different settings.