Monday, 20 July 2015

learning to drive - teaching someone to drive - materials on internet and first lessons

Daire is 17 and has passed his driving theory test. And has a provisional licence. And is insured on a fiesta. So we are all set to start properly learning to drive. He rides a bike around quite a bit already. So has some road experience from that. A small/occasional amount of experience driving a car/tractor/lawn mower in field has given a feeling for control of driving something with an engine.

So now what do we do? :-) Ready to start driving! 

As we are new to teaching driving we looked it up a bit. There is some good info from UK and USA on teaching young people to drive. Good to start with that. This gives a few things to think about before starting. There is a useful sheet from UK driving which gives a full sheet of driving skills and a techniques. You can plan roughly what skills you will work on - so both instructor and strudent could look them up before-hand, so you can go out on the road with a plan (know where you are going and what to do). A checklist tracking progress on each skill makes sure you cover all the skills needed over time. 

A straight-forward introduction:

A very good quick-reference list of skills (reminder to teachers what to teach and work on).
And a skills/prograss chart:

Here is an electronic copy of that very useful skill progress checklist:
Learning to Drive - Driver's Record. Google sheets.
Because paper copies are easy to misplace :-7

For the teachers: You have to be a good driver and ALSO a good teacher. We are beginner driving teachers! So a bit of thought and patience required between teachers and student! :-) 

I found learning to drive a motorbike ~ about 10 years ago ~ very useful for my driving. I had to pass the driving theory test (newly introduced to Ireland) and I have worked on learning advanced driving techniques and putting them into practice (on bikes and in car). Motorbiking and cycling give very good attention and concentration and awareness on the road. Motorbikes use defensive driving which is also very good to employ when driving any vehicle. Also a long time ago driving tractors and cars with trailers on the farm gave an awareness of how trucks and trailers and buses manouver - which is useful when close to them in traffic. 

First couple of lessons: clutch bite point, road positioning

First up is find a safe location to start the engine and get moving. There is a big and quiet car park not too far away from where we live which was good for us. 2 sessions and we have found getting moving forward (finding bite point of clutch and balancing. Fionnuala did the first and I did the second. Daire did both! 

To explain clutch bite point we had to think about it! Jump in the driver seat. Move off. Think about what we were doing with our legs. The important thing (that is automatic to us) with clutch leg is we hold our clutch leg quite stiffly, not allowing it to move up or down (except as we want it to) and as car starts moving we do not allow leg to wobble but maintain control over it. Gentle or no acceleration needed if moving off downhill. A little bit of acceleration needed on flat of uphill.

During these first lessons there is ALOT to learn. We are also learning instrument controls, observation (of parked cars and the occasional other learner car in car park), road positioning - while moving forward in between practicing starting - positioning in straight and when turning. And the skills have to be applied simultaneously! They become automatic to experienced drivers. So it is important to take things at a very steady pace. 

There were some slight inclines in the quiet car-park so once Daire was getting the hang of starting on the flat we started stopping on the incline and practiced starting when a bit more acceleration was required.

And we added in reversing straight and reversing while turning. 

Next lessons, Introduction to quiet roads - industrial estate - junctions - moving off and turning

A driver has to be very skilled at moving off (straight or at left or right turn into traffic) to drive on public roads. Every stop at a junction or in traffic involves a move-off again. So next we are working on moving off (still working on clutch control). In industrial state, there are some T junctions to handle, and we pull into a car park. Stop in parking spot. Reverse and pull out onto road again. There are a mix of inclines on road and in car parks. And of course observation and signalling is being practiced continually.

At the end today we went out of industrial estate (straight through a set of traffic lights). Then straight - left at junction - right at set of traffic lights (three lanes in road). Lane positioning needs work. At the start today we started from home in housing estate (tricky!) and mixed up driving on roads.

He's going at quite a fast pace once he gets moving. A bit too fast in turns and on corners. A common problem apparently for learners. I think because it is difficult to drive quite slowly with control. So will have to work control moving car nice and slowly. 

Next next . . . 
 + Work on good vehicle control moving off and road positioning when manouvering. 
 + Practice of proper observation and signalling is happening together with driving.
 - Work on physical accuracy with moving the car forwards and backwards - straight and in turns is needed. 
    So narrow roads/lanes lined with - cones - or something would be ideal.
 - More reversing and introduce 3-point-turns
 - . . . 

That will all be needed for the official driving lessons and tests as well as for good driving.

I find it good to read about the rules of road and theory of the techniques you are working on as I am learning. There is some good material on youtube and internet (and a lot of not so good!). The advanced driving techniques from police driving instructors are good. It keeps skills fresh. 

Some more links:

A parent & teen learning to drive guide from California . . .

This has some more good info on Moving Off and Stopping techniques:

There are some good driving learning videos on youtube . . .
e.g. reversing (slowly but very controlled)
But there are also some bad ones!
Ones from driving schools are probably better.

Good book: Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Rider's Handbook to Better Motorcycling

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