If your learner driver has passed their restricted licence test and is about to start driving solo, use regular check-up drives to make sure they don't get into bad habits.
This is an important phase in their learning process. They’ll continue to gain experience but have full responsibility for their own driving decisions. It’s also a time when they’re at risk of becoming over-confident. This is when bad habits can creep into their driving.
As a coach, you should check in on your learner every few months. That way you can identify and eliminate any bad habits before they become part of their normal driving. This will make sure they’re maintaining the necessary skills to be a safe driver.
Some new drivers may welcome a check-up drive, but others may not want one. For those drivers, you may need to explain that check-up drives will help them to prepare for the full licence test.
Tips for giving feedback during a check-up drive
- Try to give feedback immediately after the event, so the event is easily remembered.
- Provide feedback on what they’re doing well. Don’t only focus on what they need to improve on.
- Only provide short feedback while on the move. If you need to discuss anything at length, pull over and stop.
- Get them to discover their own mistakes by asking good questions. Remember the WASP technique – Wait, Ask, Show, Practise.
- Encourage ongoing self-reflection of their driving and the possible outcomes and consequences.
Bad habits to look out for
- Speed control: driving too fast for the conditions or going over the speed limit.
- Indicating: forgetting to indicate when needed or indicating for less than 3 seconds.
- Road positioning: not keeping left especially when turning – cutting corners.
- Mirror use: not using the mirrors often enough to maintain awareness of surrounding traffic.
- Checking blind spots: not looking over their shoulder to check their blind spots.
- Following distances: not keeping to the right following distances. Following distances should be 2 seconds in good conditions or 4 seconds in wet or icy conditions, when other vehicles are following too close, and in heavy traffic.
- Lane use: not staying entirely within the lane or not using the correct lane.
- Changing lanes: not looking in mirrors and doing a shoulder check before changing lanes. Or not indicating for at least 3 seconds before changing lanes.
On check-up drives, you should also practise hazard detection and response ahead of sitting the full licence test. This will make sure your restricted licence holder goes into the test fully prepared.
What happens during the full licence test