The Importance of Commentary Driving

“Turn right, here! Take a left there! Watch your speed! Have you checked your mirrors?…” These phrases may be all but familiar utterances you may have been guilty of saying while out on your teen’s driving lessons.

It’s an odd phenomenon when we feel at risk to resort to backseat driving. Backseat driving may be a way for us to vent our concerns and uneasiness, but it also frustrates and intimidates a young driver.  Having someone else talk while on the driving lesson can also distract your young driver.

Backseat driving is rarely beneficial, even for experienced drivers.

Learning to drive can be an exciting time for your student. It can also be nerve-wracking and cause frustration for both yourself and your student.

Barking commands and emphasizing mistakes made will only heighten the tension, frustration and anxiety of your driver.

What is the Commentary Driving Technique?

Instead of making your student nervous and second-guessing themselves, and therefore undermining their good driving skills, try the commentary driving technique.

With the commentary driving technique, the student makes comments about the approaching traffic situation. They also point out observations such as how fast they are going and saying what they see in their car’s mirrors. With this kind of driver’s education, the student must learn to scan the environment and make decisions based on what the approaching situation is.

Students are to make their comments before getting into a situation and making a preemptive decision. These comments don’t have to be complete sentences. They can be short phrases.

These short sentences or phrases, however, need to be specific. For instance, they can say things like “There is an intersection ahead. The light is green. The car in front is slowing down. I’m going 25 mph, under the speed limit. I am slowing down, ready to stop if needed. Check mirrors. The car behind is also slowing down. Two cars ahead are turning left. May need to change lanes.”

When your student fails to comment on an important sign or significant situation, question them as to why they didn’t say anything, what they were think about the situation and how they could have handled the situation better.

After the driving lesson, discuss with your student the things they did well and ask them how they would have improved their skills and made better decisions for the mistakes they made during the driving lesson. Students can also write their thoughts down, explaining why they made the decisions they did and in what ways they can better their driving skills.

Why is the Commentary Driving Technique Important?

Commentary driving is a more constructive driver’s education technique that provides more benefits than the traditional commands and backseat driving techniques that parents are used to.

Here are some reasons that make commentary driving important:

  • It helps students learn to scan their surroundings.
  • It forces students to mentally think about what they need to do in upcoming situations.
  • It reassures parents that the student is observing and looking out for potential hazards, anticipating upcoming situations and making pre-planned decisions.
  • It gives students more confidence in themselves and their driving skills and abilities.
  • It empowers students by encouraging dialogue and self-assessment.
  • It limits distractions of the driver as it should only be the driver making comments doing the talking.

As your student progresses, you can take the commentary driving technique up a notch by introducing remarks and conversations about common distractions, traffic and road conditions on a given route.

The more on-the-road drive time your student gets, the better prepared they will be in passing their driving test and getting their license. Make these lessons enjoyable and productive. The best way to do that is through the commentary driving technique.

For your student to begin on-the-road driving lessons, he or she must be first enrolled in a driver’s education course at a certified, state recognized driving school.

For more information about safe driving courses, contact 9-1-1 Driving School.

Parenting Tips on How to Practice With Your New Driver

It seemed like in a matter of a blink your child is now a new driver. You’ve been preparing for this big milestone in your child’s life. Still, it seemed to have come too fast.

You’re excited for your child, but you’re also worried. Teen drivers get in more accidents than any other group. You want your son or daughter to be safe. How do you teach them to be good, safe drivers?

The most effective answer is practice. The more on-the-road driving experience your student has, the quicker they will learn and the more confidence they will build.

Every state requires driver’s education students to attend a certified driving school that incorporates mandatory classroom and on-the-road driving hours.

In addition, most states require students to have a certain number of driving hours at home, outside of the driving school.

This is where you, as the parent come in.

Teen drivers are inexperienced and often lack driving confidence. Be patient when riding with your son or daughter and continually encourage them.

In many instances, the learning doesn’t begin and end in the car. Talk to your child before the practice drive and afterwards. Try to limit the amount of talking during the actual driving.

Before the Driving Session

Map out a route and show the route to your child. When mapping out routes, keep in mind your child’s driving experience. Avoid busy, major streets. Instead, stay on quiet, less congested side streets.

Just as having a delegated route, pick a couple, specific road skills to focus on during each practice drive.

Tell your driver to leave their cell phone at home.

Make sure the student has properly adjusted both side mirrors and the rearview mirror.

Having a route will give both you and your new driver peace of mind. It will eliminate you having to come up with a route on the fly, which can involve the sudden “turn here” commands.

Instead, you can try “commentary driving” technique where your student calls out things as they see them. This technique enhances the new driver’s peripheral vision and can give you some peace of mind knowing that your son or daughter is alert and aware.

Remind yourself to be patient and calm. Avoid raising your voice, scolding or talking down to your student while on the road.

During the Driving Session

Start the driving sessions short, gradually increasing their lengths as your driver gets more comfortable and confident. The first few driving sessions should be between 15 and 20 minutes.

Teen drivers are nervous and can get distracted easily. Avoid excessive talking to your student while he or she is driving. You want them to focus on the road, not on your conversation.

Stick to the route and be sure to give your son or daughter advance warning on where to turn. Sudden shouts of “turn here!” will only add to your child’s stress and lack of confidence.

Gently point out the mistakes your child made and explain why it was wrong. Discussing the mistakes during the drive is more effective than waiting until you get home to share it. When going over these mistakes, have your child pull the car over. You don’t want to be talking while your child is trying to drive.

Be the eyes for your teen driver. Teens have not yet learned to scan ahead nor look around at what is happening around the vehicle. They can’t anticipate or see potential hazards. They are often only focused on what is right in front of them.

Refrain from pushing your own instruction and suggestions if it doesn’t match what your teen driver has been taught in driver’s ed. Doing this will confuse your student.

After the Driving Session

Review the session with your child, highlighting what they did well and repeating the errors that happened.

Ask your son or daughter to provide their own feedback and assessment on their driving. Also, ask your child what he or she learned.

Lead by example. As your teen is now a driver, he or she will be ever more observant of your driving habits. Knowing that your driving skills are under scrutiny, make the added effort to drive like a model driver. You want your child to pick up correct, safe, good driving habits, not bad, risky ones.

As a parent to a new driver, you have a great responsibility and privilege to teach them good driving habits.

If there is a soon-to-be driver in your home, trust their driver’s education to 911 Driving School. Contact us today for more information about our classes and locations.