The benefits of Commentary driving
Most people find that incorporating a commentary into their drives is one of the most difficult areas of their training. Strictly speaking, a commentary is not mandatory on a driving test but we strongly recommend that everyone should attempt a commentary for at least part of their training and then accommodate the skill into everyday driving.
A commentary drive is simply a part of the drive where the driver describes what is/is not going on around them, including hazards they see (or may not see), and then incorporating that in to the driving procedure.
Verbalizing what you're doing as you do it creates a stronger habit.
As the more often students talk through what they're doing, the faster they learn.
The method of Commentary driving we encourage you to use is nothing different to that employed by emergency response police officers, the basis of which is covered in the Roadcraft book.
Once you have tried and increased your skills at it, you're driving will improve greatly.
Obviously you will need to practice this technique and the easiest way to assist you with this from scratch is to build up your technique in easy stages.
Before you attempt the commentary, know that it will help to start looking at the furthest point before moving to the middle ground, in front and not forgetting what's behind.
Initially, don't sit in the driving seat, put yourself as the passenger in the car whilst your other half drives and build up your commentary that way before you let yourself loose in the driving seat.
It is sometimes beneficial to individuals to try it out this way as you only have to consider your commentary without the responsibility of the driving task.
Keep the basis of the commentary simple and begin to tell yourself where the road is going, either to the left or to the right or up or down or a combination of all these things.
Much of what you look for should be fairly obvious, there is no excuse for not seeing road signs, big sign boards and road markings.
Also look out for junctions, roundabouts, traffic lights along the way and any traffic movement at them and consider road surfaces.
Initially, don't add any more information to your commentary until you feel comfortable with this amount of talking.
Once you are happy with the content of the commentary so far, now build in a few words about your necessary changes of speed but don't forget the stages of car control (LMSPSL), like checking your mirrors before you adjust your speed.
Again, once you are happy that you can cope with that amount of information, we will then build into the commentary all the other road users, including all types of other road users.
This brings in the context of anticipation of what other road users are doing or may do as we try to predict their unpredictability, for example a set of brakes light on the car in front suggests that the driver is slowing down, obvious you might say but you need to act upon that.
Finally add the finishing touches to the commentary with respect to a sequential approach to our position in the road, the need to increase or reduce speed, the choice of gear and to what the driving plan is to deal with the hazards ahead.
This means incorporating System of Car Control as mentioned earlier.
If at any time you feel that the commentary is affecting the way that you are driving, stop the commentary until you are comfortable enough to continue with it.
Remembering, the ultimate achievement at the end of this exercise will be for you to develop your driving skills and therefore remain safe and calm where those around be reacting in a frenzy.
It might take a lot of work to get comfortable with Commentary Driving but it will be well worth it.