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13 February 2024 · Tips N' Tricks

Are You Teaching A Learner Driver?

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Teaching a learner driver can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. The journey to getting a driver’s licence can be a positive experience, for both teacher and learner. If you are helping family or a friend log their driving experience hours here are five useful tips from Nicole Thompson, owner of Spotto Learner Driver on the NSW Central Coast, and a board member of the Australian Driver Trainers Association.

1. Make it fun

It’s important to take the stress out of learning to drive, Thompson says, and enjoy your time together. “When going for a drive with a learner, don’t always make it a have-to drive,” she says. “Just go for fun. Don’t have a set time to be at a certain place, just go with the flow, enjoy the drive and even stop to take photos or have a coffee. Learners think it's cool to go through a drive-through. “This way the learner and you are more relaxed. Just remember: this is quality time with your learner. Once they are a P-plater your quality time is limited.”

2. Sit in on a lesson

“If your learner has a lesson with an instructor, ask them if you can join the lesson,” Thompson says. “If they don’t allow this, find another instructor.” By sitting in, observing, and perhaps asking a few questions, you’ll no doubt learn something new – and you can ensure you and the professional are on the same page. “We don’t want to give mixed messages and confuse the learner.”

3. Make parking easy

Parking can be really stressful for learners. Giving them some parking hacks can help. “If you are going to teach parking, look for references to give the learner, like where to stop beside the parked car, how to line the mirror up with the parked car’s front door handle, then take so many turns to the left,” Thompson says. “You don't need reference points, but a learner does.”

4. Give them autonomy

“Allow your learner to make decisions,” Thompson says. “Before you start your drive, talk about what they want to take away from the lesson, like parking, difficult right-hand turns or freeway driving. “Let them make decisions as to which roads they want to take. If they don't know the directions, help them on the way there and see if they can find their way home.”

5. Keep your log book up to date

Give your learner driver the responsibility for recording trips in their logbook. Some states in Australia offer this via an app, but whether it's via an app or on paper, you don’t want to let things slide – you don’t want to be working out what trips you’ve done days, weeks or months after the event. One way to make sure you have all the information you need is to take pictures with your smartphone, Thompson says. “If you take a picture of the dashboard at the start and end of your journey, you’ll be able to see the kilometres, and the picture will have the time recorded on it. It’s great if you’re in a hurry.”

For more information and handy resources, visit the Australian Driver Trainer’s Association