Not all drivers are equal - how to approach confident and nervous drivers

by: John Wells on

When it comes to teaching learners to drive, most driving instructors automatically vary their methods depending on the student in question and their confidence levels. A nervous driver will likely need reassurance and patience, whereas an overly confident driver may need to be reminded to drive defensively and with caution.

When is the right time to put someone forwards for their test?

When your student is competent at manoeuvres, has mastered junctions including roundabouts and has the skills to deal with unexpected situations in a calm and appropriate manner, it’s likely that they’ll make a safe road user. It can sometimes be tempting to put a student forwards too early – especially when the student them self is eager to pass as soon as possible – but it’s never a good idea, as a failed test just means money wasted, upset for the student and lowered moral.

When judging whether a student is ready for their test it’s important not to be influenced by their confidence levels being either too low or too high – and to judge them based on their ability, whilst instilling them with the appropriate amount of confidence to succeed.

Can over confidence jeopardise progress?

Whilst being a confident driver can benefit a learner in lots of ways, when this becomes overconfidence it can jeopardise their progress, as well as being potentially dangerous. Over confidence can mean that learner drivers brush off or ignore their instructor’s advice, drive too quickly or don’t take the time to properly observe their surroundings. It’s therefore important for driving instructors to give their students a realistic perception of their own ability, as well as making sure they’re aware of their responsibility to drive safely.

What if a student isn’t ready for their test?

If your student’s test date is coming up quickly and you still aren’t confident that they’ve reached passing standard, delaying the test often the best decision. Whilst this can be disappointing for the student, it’s better than the knock in confidence than can come from failing, or in the case of them passing – sending a driver out onto the roads who isn’t quite experienced enough yet.

 

How emotions affect driving

As well as confidence levels, emotions also have a big impact on a learner’s driving ability. Of course it’s normal to feel nervous in the first few driving lessons especially, – but if your student seems overwhelmed and overly upset regularly, you may be pushing them too much and hindering their progress.

When feeling flustered, the decisions your student makes under pressure won’t be as good as those they would make in a more relaxed and confident emotional state. These mistakes then lead to even more anxiety – creating a vicious cycle. You therefore may need to adjust your manner with them to make them feel more at ease, or make your lessons less challenging until they are able to compose themselves.

Anger can also make a student drive more aggressively, as it can cause them to act rashly, such as stamping on the brake or accelerator. Demonstrating a calm and professional way to drive, and making it clear that road rage is not acceptable will help your student remain relaxed when driving. It may sometimes be necessary with learners to stop and take a break while they get their emotions under control, before resuming your lesson.

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