These lesson guides detail the content of a typical lesson, the write ups are very instructional to illustrate rate the level of detail – you need to bear in mind the need to involve the learner in the process throughout.
Before and during every lesson you need to discuss and manage the risks associated with the lesson – share responsibility with the learner.
Controls and cockpit drill
Before you pull away, ask the learner why he is learning to drive and does he have any experience of driving (i.e. a motorbike, moped, or even a bicycle). He may tell you that he has had experience with one of these vehicles. You can use this information later in your briefing to help learning take place. You would now ask him to put his seatbelt on and ask him to refrain from touching the dual controls. You also need to check the seatbelt is on correctly, and not twisted. If it is twisted, you will ask him to run his thumb from the bottom of the seatbelt to the top. You will now proceed to drive to the site.
On the drive to location, give the learner a demo on what you are doing. It‟s important that you make sure that he‟s watching you. As you‟re pulling up to the side of the road you would ask the learner to keep his seatbelt on until you say so, and not to open the door until you say so. Once the vehicle has come to a rest, you would now explain to the learner how you want him to exit the vehicle. Before you do that, you would tell him not to do anything until you ask him to.
It‟s been known for the learner to open the door and just miss hitting a pedestrian or cyclist. This is where micro-management (in other words, very detailed instruction) is crucial. Now you will explain to him how to remove his seatbelt. This is done by putting his left hand on the buckle and pressing the release button with his right hand. You would then explain that this is important or the seatbelt could fly up and either smash the side window or hit him in the face, especially on modern cars. You would now go on to explain that before he opens the door he needs to put his right hand into the cup of the door and his left hand on the door handle because if the wind was to catch the door, this keeps the door from swinging open (give it a go and see for yourself). You would then tell him that you want him to check his left door mirror to see if anyone is coming. If no one is coming, you will now tell him to check his left shoulder to make sure there is no one in the blind spot. If all is clear, you may tell him that he can now get out and meet you on the pavement, otherwise the learner will wander into the road.
You will get out of the car and take the keys with you. Once you are on the pavement with the learner, you will now ask him to check that the hatchback door is closed, and tell him that this is one of the doors of the car and requires to be checked in case it is open. He will then come around the rear car, but before you let him get in the car, you must tell him not to touch or fiddle with anything. They have been known to release the hand-brake or play with the gears. At this point, you will close the door for the learner and make sure that the door is not fully closed, as you will use this in the briefing to explain how the door looks and feels when shut. You will now make your way to the passenger seat and get ready to carry out the briefing.
Once you‟re both seated in the car, you will start the briefing.
You will start your briefing by telling the learner/pupil that this lesson is important because he needs to know what the different controls of the car are and how they should be operated. You will ask him if he has ever sat in the driver‟s seat of a car before and whether he knows any of the controls in the car.
He will probably say that he has not sat in the driver‟s seat, but that he does know what that big round thing in front of him is. If he has sat in the driver‟s seat before, you will ask him what controls he is familiar with, so when you come to these controls during the briefing you will ask him about them and not just tell him. This makes the briefing more interactive and interesting because if you don‟t make it interesting, the learner will get bored and start looking out the window.
You will tell the learner that you are now going to teach him the cockpit drill, which is a drill that he must carry out every time that he gets in the driver‟s seat because other people may have driven the vehicle and things like seat-positioning and mirror-positioning may be in a different place. You will tell the learner that the cockpit drill is known as, “DHSSSM.” This stands for Doors, Handbrake, Seat, Steering-wheel, Seatbelt, and Mirrors.
Now you will explain what the learner needs to do with the doors. It is his responsibility (as the driver) to check all doors are shut because he doesn`t want to lose his passengers as he goes around a roundabout. To do this, you will ask him to place his left hand in the cup of the door and to give the door a shake. This will result in the door rattling, as earlier you did not shut the door fully. You would now ask him to check the right door mirror and ask him if he can see the door is slightly open. You could, at this point, explain that the door has a double-locking mechanism, therefore the door can be half-shut (meaning that it should not open, but it could). To solve this problem you would ask the learner (while keeping his left hand in the cup) to check the right door mirror and blind spot for any road users coming from behind. If clear, ask him to open the door and slam it shut. The learner now needs to check the left door mirror to make sure the door is flush with the bodywork, and therefore shut.
He needs to be told to check the handbrake. He may not know what the handbrake is, so you need to tell him to put his hand on the stick in the middle and pull it up. Right now you do not need to go into a lot of detail, as you will cover this later on in the lesson. You do need to tell him that he needs to check the handbrake is up because it secures the car, so when he is adjusting the seat, etc… the car won‟t roll off down a hill.
The next part of the DHSSSM is the seat and steering. These are done together, as this makes more sense. The steering will be covered in regards to the seat position, only, and not all the things to do with steering, as this will be covered at a later stage. You would explain that it‟s important to adjust the seat to be able to reach all the pedals correctly and with comfort.
Now ask him to put his left hand on the steering wheel and place his right hand on the lever to adjust the seat (this could be the other way around, depending on your car). You will need to tell him where the lever is because he will not know. Get him to use the lever in the correct way for your car and to use the hand on the steering wheel to pull himself forward, or he will go shooting back. You will tell him when to release the lever and stop moving the seat. Now he can place his left foot on the clutch all the way to the floor.
Remember to tell him which one is the clutch, as he does not know yet. You will keep doing this process until he is seated in the correct position. Once this is achieved, you will ask him to keep his foot down on the clutch and to push himself back into the seat. This will lock the seat into place. The next thing to do is to adjust the rake (back) of the seat so that he can reach the steering wheel correctly and have full and uninterrupted movement around the steering wheel. To check this, you will ask him to place his wrists on top of the steering wheel, and if his arms are not bent and he is not leaning forward, this is the correct position. So when he puts his hands at quarter past nine position on the steering wheel, his arms will be slightly bent.
The last thing needed for the seats is to explain the head-restraint and how it should be adjusted and why. It should be adjusted so that the middle part of the back of the head will touch the middle part of the head restraint. This can be checked by asking the learner to put a hand on the back of his head and then to lean back. His hand should now be touching the head restraint. If this is not the case, you will show him how to adjust the head restraint. It is important that you explain the reason for doing this because of possible whiplash injuries due to incorrectly adjusted head restraints. Now it is time to explain how and why to use the seatbelt.
Before you get him to put the seatbelt on, you would explain the reason why he should put the seatbelt on at this point because if he were to put it on before he adjusted the seat, he would strangle himself. The next thing to get him to do is to put his left hand on the buckle of the seatbelt and get him to pull it across his chest and put the buckle in the holder. Explain that by doing it like this, he is unlikely to get a twist in the seatbelt and it‟s important that he does not get a twist in the seatbelt because this could cause chest injuries in the event of a road collision. If there is a twist in the seatbelt, ask him to run his thumb from the bottom of the seatbelt up towards the top. This should free the twist. There is normally no need to remove the seatbelt to undo a twist.
It is important to explain that it‟s the driver‟s legal responsibility (in this case, the learner‟s) to make sure that all passengers under the age of 14 are wearing their seatbelts. It‟s also a moral responsibility to make sure that all passengers are wearing their seatbelts, no matter what their age. Advise the learner/pupil to adopt an attitude of no seatbelt; no ride. If there were to be a road collision, a passenger not wearing his seatbelt would be a great danger to the rest of the people in the car. Ask the learner if he‟s seen or heard about the “Killer in the back” advert that has been running in the media recently. If he has not, inform him what kind of damage can take place (including death) because of an unrestrained passenger.
The final part of the DHSSSM is the Mirrors. For this, please offset the centre mirror so that the learner has to adjust it. You will tell him how to set the middle mirror by using his finger and thumb on the top and bottom of the mirror. Also, the finger and thumb need to be on the left side of the mirror while doing this so that the learner‟s view in the mirror is not obstructed. (picture) As he does this, make sure his hands (fingers) are on the outer rim of the mirror and not on the glass, as any grease or moisture from his fingers can get on the mirror and distort the vision, particularly at night.
You would tell him that to get the best view out of the back window, he needs to see the top of the back window, the bottom of the back window, and a small part of his head restraint, or his left ear. This will ensure that he has maximum vision to the rear and to the road behind. The best way to get him to understand what you mean is to show a picture. This can be a picture from your visual aid or a picture you have taken yourself. (picture) Now you will teach him how to adjust the door mirrors (if your door mirrors are electric, you may need to give the learner the keys at this point and ask him to turn the ignition to allow him to adjust the electric mirrors). Show him another diagram or picture so that he understands when you tell him that he needs to see the car in 10% (finger width) of the mirror and the rest of the view in the mirror needs to be of the street behind. (picture)
It‟s a good idea to get him to now look in the middle mirror and ask him what he can see. Then get him to look over his left shoulder and ask him if the picture behind looks any different from the one in the mirror. He should tell you that it looks the same. Then explain that this is because the middle mirror is flat glass, therefore what you see is what you get. Now ask him to look in the right or left door mirror and ask him if the picture looks different. He should tell you that things look further away.
Explain that this is because it‟s convex glass and things look further away than they actually are, therefore they are closer than they look. This is important for him to understand because any cyclists seen in this mirror are going to be closer than the driver thinks, so extra caution should be taken before making any turns. You have now completed the DHSSSM. Now you will check what knowledge has been learned by asking the learner what sequence they have to go through to carry out the cockpit drill. Listen carefully at this point, as the learner may well get the DHSSSM in the wrong order. If he does, you would need to tell him that it is DHSSSM and then ask two questions for each part of the acronym (i.e. Who‟s responsibility is it to check the doors are shut? How do you check the passenger door is shut)?
You can choose which questions to ask. By asking them, you will find out whether you have forgotten to cover any of these points and it gives you the opportunity to now cover them before you go onto the next part and the opportunity is gone. You also need to check what learning has taken place. If the learner does get a question wrong then it gives you an opportunity to go over that point again until learning does take place.
Remind the learner to not touch or fiddle with anything and that you are now going to talk about the foot controls. The foot controls are known as the ABC, which are the accelerator, brake, and clutch. You will tell the learner that you will be referring to the accelerator as the gas pedal because gas is quicker and easier to say, particularly on the move. Watch out for the learner while talking about the pedals, as he is likely to try and play with them with his feet. It is okay that he tries the pedals out, but only under your guidance and control, and not in a willy-nilly fashion.
You will start by talking about the gas pedal and that this is the pedal on the right, which is only to be used by the right foot. You will tell him that it makes the car go faster or slower when the car is moving and that it is used to pull the car away from a stationary position. Refer to the learner riding a bicycle and ask him what happens when he pedals faster and what happens when he stops pedalling. Tell him that when he comes off the gas, the car will start to slow and this is known as engine breaking. Also tell him that the pedal is always used gently and progressively and never to be pushed straight to the floor, particularly when the vehicle is not moving.
Show him a pound coin and tell him that he should press the gas pedal the thickness of a pound coin. You can now get him to press the gas pedal the amount he thinks is the thickness of a pound coin. The learner is very likely to press it too much. This is not a problem, as the engine is not running. You can then tell him to come off the pedal and press it down again (half the amount this time). If necessary, you will continue this until he presses it the correct amount. Now move on to the brake pedal, again explaining that it is used by the right foot only. This is because you would not need to accelerate and slow down at the same time.
Get the learner to now practice moving his right foot from the accelerator to the brake. This is best done by placing the heel of the foot on the floor between the two pedals. If the learner has small feet, he may need to lift his foot up and across to the brake, as he can‟t keep his heel on the ground and touch the pedal at the same time. Now explain that the brake is used in a progressive manner, just like the gas. It should not be pressed straight to the floor, except in an emergency. Get him to practice pressing the brake pedal down the thickness of a coin, just as you did for the gas pedal.
Continue to get him to press the brake pedal down (one thickness of a coin at a time) until the brake pedal is all the way down. Now get him to bring the brake pedal up (one thickness of a coin) and explain that by doing this (while stopping) the car will stop smoothly without jerking forward. Explain that when he presses the brake pedal the first width of a coin, it does not operate the brake system, but only the brake lights which are the red lights on the back of the car.
Explain that in modern cars, there‟s a dual-breaking system, which means that one system operates the brakes in the front left wheel and the back right wheel and the other braking system operates the brakes in the right front wheel and back left wheel. So if there was a failure of the braking system, only one system would fail and the car would stop in a straight line, but may take longer to stop. Use a diagram to explain this to the learner. This mean seem unnecessary to explain, but the learners are looking for you to explain this system, as it is mentioned in “Driving: The Essential Skills,” published by the DSA.
Get the learner to now take his foot off the brake and place it flat on the floor while you explain the clutch. If you don‟t, the learner will keep his foot on the brake until you tell him to take it off. This is because the learner will only do exactly what you tell him to do. You will find that some pupils are like this, and the learner wants to know that you can teach any level of pupils. The learner will always play the worst case scenario and act as if he knows nothing and remembers nothing.
You generally need to tell them what you want them to do, why you want them to do it, and how you want them to do it. Again, use a diagram to explain the clutch. You can also use your hands as a demonstration of how the clutch works. Explain that the clutch is used to move the car below walking pace, to help change gears, and while stopping so that the car does not stall. Tell the learner that the clutch is operated by using the left foot, as it‟s the only foot available because you would be using the right foot on the gas or the brake. It is the only pedal that can be pushed straight down to the floor, as this separates the clutch plates and therefore causes no damage to the vehicle. Explain that the biting point is where the two clutch plates meet and at which point the car will be pulling against the handbrake and wanting to move. In other words, the power is being transferred from the engine to the wheels via the clutch plates. Do not go into more detail than this because it is unnecessary and it would just confuse the learner.
Now you can tell him that he will bring the clutch up about a centimetre or a finger‟s width at a time, as this will stop him from missing biting point or the car jumping forward or stalling. Now ask him to put the clutch all the way to the floor and then bring it up to what he thinks is one centimetre. If he brings it up more than that, then ask him to put it back down to the floor and bring it up half that amount and carry this on until he brings it up one centimetre. Now ask him to bring it up one centimetre again and again until the clutch is all the way up. Now get him to put his left foot back on the floor, away from the clutch, or he will keep his foot on the clutch until you ask him to release it or take it off. Now ask him two questions about each pedal to see what learning has taken place and to determine whether you need to fill in any gaps before you move on.
You will now move on to explain the gear stick. It is best to use a drawing for this, and not the picture on the gear stick. This is because if you get him to look at the gear stick, even once, it will encourage him to look at the gear stick while driving, which is not a good idea. This will avoid this situation occurring with real learners. You will explain, in simple terms, that the gears make the engine work efficiently and that the first gear is the most powerful.
The highest gear is the least powerful. At this point, give an example by saying something such as when you first try pushing a car it is very hard to get it moving, but once it is moving it is easier to keep it going. This is because once the car is moving it has momentum and therefore requires less power.
You will now explain that first gear can be used up to ten miles an hour, second gear up to twenty miles an hour, third gear up to thirty miles an hour, fourth gear up to forty miles an hour, and fifth gear for anything over forty miles an hour. This is not the case in all vehicles, but is an easy way for a pupil to remember the gear ratios and the learner will accept it. You would now show the picture of the gear stick and explain where the gears are situated for your vehicle. Get him to practice changing the gears by placing the clutch to the floor with his left foot and putting his left hand on the right side of the gear stick and pushing the gear stick towards you and then up (or whatever is required for the gears in your car). You will now get him to practice bringing the clutch up and putting his left hand back on the wheel. You need to make sure that he continues to look out the front window while carrying out this exercise.
This is good practice with real learners, particularly, because if you allow them to keep the clutch down or don‟t use the clutch while practicing gear changes, they will learn bad habits before the car is even moved. You will continue practicing the gear changes in the following order: 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 4th, 4th to 5th, 5th to 4th, 5th to 3rd, 5th to 2nd and 5th to 1st. This will give them a good idea of going up the gears and block changing, which is going from whatever gear you‟re in to whatever gear you want (see the part 2 section for more details).
Handbrake – if electronic explain how this works as it will not operate with the engine off. If a manual handbrake get the learner to press the brake with his right foot and then release the handbrake by lifting slightly with his left hand and then push the button in with his left thumb before lowering the lever fully. In most modern cars pull up the lever firmly without pressing the release button (check your car manual for confirmation)