Another pair of eyes

Wednesday 24th March, 2010 at 11:03 COMMENTS (0)

From 6 April 2010, learner drivers taking their practical test will be encouraged by the examiner to take an observer with them. 

The Driving Standards Agency believes that taking their instructor, or the person that taught them to drive, with them on their test will help candidates' learning and development and make them safer drivers. 

It will be entirely the customer's decision.  If they wish to do so, the observer will sit in the rear of the vehicle, watch the test and be present for the post-test debrief. 

In 2008 to 2009, 18,000 instructors accompanied pupils on 81,000 tests at the request of the candidate.  From April, these figures are expected to rise. 

As a Driving Instructor Trainer, this is a practice that I continually recommend to trainee & qualified instructors as well as the individual pupils attending the test. 

Of course, it's not for everyone.  Some individuals may feel under more pressure from the extra person in the rear of the car, and feel the expectations of the instructor or parent are just too much to handle.  If this is the case then the candidate can easily decline the request without prejudice from the examiner. 

Just recently, I sat in with one of my pupils on her first driving test.  Over a period of months, I had guided and encouraged good driving practice for the benefit of the driver and other road users.  This was then a perfect opportunity to see how well this had been learned and to offer feedback where necessary. 

Although, the benefits far out weigh any negatives, for the observer, the practice is still not easy, despite 18 years worth of experience.  Every move or correction is viewed through trained eyes, and how I feel a need to comment or help when needed.  For those observers that are new to the experience, this can be very difficult although the examiner will remind them prior to starting the drive to remain silent or avoid prompting in any way. 

The examiner, throughout this drive always remained professional, offering guidance in complex or unusual situations whilst being friendly and very much appreciated by the pupil.  Over the years, I've heard many pupils and indeed instructors recite horror stories of what the examiner did or said, usually spread by the unsuccessful candidates and the spun differently by the third parties.  Another great reason to see for yourself and gain your own thoughts. 

Pass or fail, we can all learn additional skills from the experience.  By having the observer present on the test, they'll be in the position to identify future development needs for a subsequent test or additional skills to build on after passing the test. 

Oh, I should have added that my pupil was successful and passed first time.  A memory that will not easily be forgotten. 

What do you think? Perhaps you have had some experiences that you would like to share.


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