Steve's Automatic Driving Lessons Milton Keynes

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Automatic Driving Lessons

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Why you Failed - AGAIN!

"But I can drive" or, "How can you fail in an automatic?" says every learner that fails their test! Believe it or not, the statistics show that the pass rate for an Automatic is worse than for manual!

But intuition tells you the opposite. So what’s going on?

The Driving Test is not difficult. Trust me. BUT it is Very EASY to fail it in a heartbeat!

Driving a car is an easy skill to learn. A manual takes roughly 10 hours to master. However, the world around you is very complex! Whether you’re in a manual or automatic, the complex world around you is the same.

I mostly teach clients that struggle with driving. These clients are not struggling with the car, although they believe they are, they are really struggling with the complex world around them. And believe me, Bletchley/Milton Keynes has some very complex features!

The Driving Test is just a 40 minute drive around the same area you have driven around for months during your lessons. So why do more than half of ALL candidates (Nationally) fail it?

The simple answer is, people so misunderstand what the test is really about. Candidates constantly tell me they "can drive", and don’t understand why they failed. They turn to popular myths about test quotas or nasty examiners to explain it. This leads candidates to believe that passing the test is not under their control and it’s all down to luck.

Passing the test is 100% under your control.

To many people "driving" simply means operating the car but that is not what is really being tested. Clients, unanimously view the test in a "prescriptive" or way. For example, learners often believe that just by "going through the motions" of checking mirrors they are doing what is wanted. It rarely occurs to them that they may need to act on anything they see!

What is really on trial however, is whether you have the good judgement to act skillfully on what you see! Clients invariably have sufficient skill. What they mess up is the "good judgement" part! Whether it’s a manual or automatic, the need for good judgement is the same.

Candidates feel unfairly treated if the examiner fails them, for example, for not overtaking a cyclist when it is safe to do so. The candidate justifies their inaction with "I didn’t want to hit the cyclist" and feels their decision not to overtake was safe and decides the examiner must be wrong and then says, "they clearly don’t want safe drivers!" This is so not true! The candidate’s inaction is due to "fear" of overtaking. The truth of the matter is they were "scared" to overtake and they fail to grasp that scared drivers are not safe drivers - fact!

You wouldn’t feel safe going on holiday if you knew the pilot was afraid of flying!

Competence requires Confidence!

Had the candidate shown "GOOD JUDGEMENT" and recognised it was safe to overtake AND if the candidate had CONFIDENCE in their skill to overtake, they would have carried out the right action safely with no danger to the cyclist.

This is what’s on trial - good judgement to assess what you see and confidence in your driving skills to execute the correct action! It’s irrelevant whether you are in a manual or an automatic. The world is the same for all candidates - manual and automatic alike. The good judgement is the same and it's the judgement to a variety of complex scenarios that clients really find challenging - not the gears!

The examiner, who is an expert driver, far more advanced than you are, assesses your ability to act confidently and safely on what you see and marks your driving accordingly.

It has nothing to do with the popular myths about quotas or nasty examiners failing you before you even start. If you fail, do not go looking for reasons other than you made one or more bad decisions.

You are not doing yourself any favours by looking for reasons other than YOU didn't exercise good judgement and didn't have the confidence to carry out the right action to the situation. Admit that, and you can work on it. Keep denying it and you are unlikely to improve.

I have sat in on many driving tests and all the candidates I have seen fail, deserved to fail. It was no one else’s fault but their own. It wasn’t bad luck, nasty examiners, stupid examiners or quotas; it was bad choices by the candidate and has nothing to do with manual or automatic.

Deciding what you are going to do with the car in the ever changing environment around you is the really difficult part of learning to drive but is the most crucial! A poor decision can cause an accident.

The DVSA regularly publish their Top 10 Reasons for Failing a Driving Test and Junctions - (Observations) has been number one for the past 8 years, with Use of Mirrors - (Change Direction) a second for the past 6 years!

More than half of candidates taking a driving test fail it and the TOP 2 reasons are not looking properly?? What’s that about?

"Not Looking" is not the whole story however. Many candidates "look" but don't interpret what they see and then act correctly to the situation before their very eyes.

Interpreting what you see and translating that into an appropriate action takes experience and experience takes time.

Confident learners can pass a test in less lessons - I’ve had many do it in less than 20hrs. Scared learners take significantly more because fear inhibits decision making. Some take as much as 50 or 60+ hrs!

It’s irrelevant that you can "drive" the car if you cannot make the decisions when to: pull out at a junction; give way to traffic; overtake when it is safe to do so; choose a safe speed for the situation or make a correction when a manoeuvre is going wrong etc. etc. The list goes on and on. It’s all in the decision making!

Very often learners are not willing to invest in further practice between tests because they think "they can drive" (they keep telling me this!) and feel there is nothing more to learn because failing was just bad luck anyway! This attitude seriously underestimates the value of experience. Learners who are not investing in regular practice at making good decisions are at a real disadvantage.

There is no escaping the fact that experience is a crucial component to correct interpretation of the world around you.

Candidates that go from test to test to test do so because they just cannot choose the correct action for the situations they find themselves in during their test and when they finally pass, it is more often than not, a "lucky" test - an easy route which in that 40 minute slice of the real world, nothing "difficult" happened.

Don’t blame others for your bad choices. The excuse, "If only the cyclist hadn’t been there I would have passed" means you really haven’t understood what makes a good driver!

The Advice is simple:-

  1. Get lots of practice at interpreting the road ahead. Don’t just stare through the windscreen wondering what is going on, have a go at predicting what will happen and then do something about it! The more you hone this skill, the more confidence you will have.
  2. Don’t avoid decisions; even a wrong one offers a learning opportunity. Trust your instructor to keep you safe while you practice. If you don’t trust your instructor - get another one!
  3. Practice in various complex situations. If your instructor isn’t constantly challenging you then insist on it or find another! (Choosing a Driving Instructor)
  4. Build experience at assessing the world around you and choosing an appropriate action to deal with it.

You should be able to go a whole lesson without your instructor’s help. Then and only then are you ready for a test! Then and only then can you say "I can drive."

If you can’t do this then be prepared for 3, 4, 5 or more tests until you get a lucky test route. But then how will you cope on your own aferwards?