Your child is ready to learn. Are you ready to teach?

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The focus for our blogs over the coming weeks is how to best work with your child to get their licence and keep them, and you, safe in the process.
So your beautiful baby is about to turn 16 and is keen to start driving. What can you do to make sure that they get the best start on driving?
Here are 5 tips from a professional trainer.
1. Have your child read the road users handbook
In the modern day most young people sit their driver knowledge test without having read the road users handbook. The driver knowledge questions are available as a mobile app from Service NSW for you to practice with. This serves a great purpose of getting you use to the layout of the questions and can even help you learn some of the road rules. It is not a complete knowledge base.
By reading the road users handbook most of the road rules are covered, it might be a good idea for you as a parent to have a read too!
2. Make sure that your learner knows all the vehicle controls before getting on the road
It is important for a learner to be comfortable with the controls of the vehicle before getting out on the road. The last thing you want is to be trying to explain to someone how to use the wipers during a sudden downpour! They can start learning the controls and switch work before they have a licence. Reading the vehicle user manual and spending some time in the garage with you testing their knowledge is a great way to start. Try to have your soon to be learner sit up front and watch what you are doing with the controls and your interaction with traffic. This will help to build muscle memory and understanding.
3. Don’t do too much too soon
During the early stages of actual driving everything is new. The feel of the accelerator and brakes (and even which is which) is a bit trial and error. Stay well away from traffic in the early stages of driving and try to get in lots of short sessions close together. It is exhausting when nothing is muscle memory. Be prepared for the accelerator to be used in place of the brake and if you don’t have access to an emergency brake from the left hand side of the vehicle then be very cautious about getting into difficult situations.
4. Remember that what is obvious to you is not to them
It is very difficult as an experienced driver to identify how and why you do what you do. Simple things like telling a learner to pivot their heel on the floor when operating the accelerator and brake makes a massive difference, but might not be obvious at first. The way we interact with traffic is another area that looks like magic to learners but is very difficult to put into words for the experienced driver.
5. Get help!
The early stages of driving are by far the most important. Giving your child some time with a professional trainer to kick things off is going to instil the correct techniques and should build confidence quickly. It is much easier to practice the correct techniques for 120 hours than to undo 120 hours of bad habits for the test. Consider getting some driving lessons yourself before embarking on your supervision career. Your driver trainer will be happy to take you out for some lessons and work with you on any bad habits. Remember that your driver trainer is there to work with you. They will be happy to give feedback and address any concerns that you have.

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The Safer Drivers Course is designed for learner drivers wanting to learn more about becoming a safe driver. The course will help you gain a deeper understanding about what it takes to be a safe solo driver.
Through both in-class activities and on-road coaching, the Safer Drivers Course will help you to be safe long after the driving test. The course is fun, engaging and informative.
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Why do people fail their Driving Test?

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We surveyed our trainers on what were the main causes of failing the driving test.
What was the number one response? Nerves.

How to Prepare

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The best way to manage your nerves on test day is to be trained to above the driving test standard. By working with a driver trainer early in the learning process, you will build safe habits into your driving. When you are under pressure your muscle memory will take over, so any bad habits that were ‘corrected’ in the days before the test won’t have had time to take root in your muscle memory and they will come back.
In the weeks leading up to the driving test, your trainer can put you through the Trent on Road Test (TORT). During this test you will be taken around a predetermined test route that is far more difficult than the driving test.
This way, you get used to being assessed. The TORT will also test what is habit and where weaknesses exist. It is just as important to practice being assessed as it is to practice your reverse parks and three point turns!
On the day of your test, your trainer will look after you with our concierge service. You will go for a short warm-up drive and be presented to the testing centre. Your trainer knows where to park, what paperwork is required, when to arrive and how to present the vehicle so that you don’t have to worry about anything.

Getting the Right Mindset

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Get a good night’s sleep before the test, eat your normal meals and do something that takes your mind off the imposing test. Don’t overthink the event. When you are well prepared you can walk into the test with the mindset that you are going to show the testing officer how safely you can drive. Take a couple of deep breaths before moving off on the test and stay calm.

Don’t Give Up!

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Too many times we have seen students return from their test and the testing officer saying that they drove really well until they stalled on the hill start. Had the student just taken a deep breath and kept trying their best,  the minor control error would not have blown into a fail item for a poor decision at a roundabout. The testing officer is not expecting you to drive like Mark Webber, they are looking for you to drive safely.

Common Myths

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There is a misconception that all testing officers are evil grumps that enjoy watching you fail. This is not usually the case! Since the changes to Services NSW has been rolling out, the testing officers are of a much higher standard. They realise that it is in their interest to make you feel comfortable on your test. The testing officer will not try to trick you by asking you to do a turn where one is not allowed.
If you accidentally turn right when the instruction was to go left, it is not the end of the test.

What if you are not successful?

Not everyone passes first go. Plan your course of action before the test, are you going to re-book on the spot or online with your trainer at a later date? Before you attempt another test, have a couple of lessons with your trainer to work on the items that were not up to scratch the first time and go to the next test with more knowledge and skill. Sometimes you will learn more in defeat than in victory.
For more information about the driving test read: WHATS IN A DRIVING TEST?