Author Archives: Driving Coach

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.

Tips for Safe Holiday Driving

Millions of Americans take the phrase “there’s no place like home for the holidays” literally. The mass migration of drivers to see friends and family near and far can bring anticipation and excitement. In more times than not, the trek and the traffic can be stressful and anything but peaceful. If you or your family is planning on driving home during the holidays, here are some safe driving tips that will make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Pack accordingly. Besides your typical trip essentials, be sure to pack your cell phone cords, a paper map (yes, they still do exist), extra change for toll roads, and plenty of water and snacks (especially if you have kids in tow.)
  2. Make sure the car is ready to go. While breaking down along the Interstate in pouring rain may make for a funny, memorable story in the future, it can easily take away the joy and relaxation of the holidays in the moment. Avoid these unexpected breakdowns by having a mechanic look over the tires, breaks, engine and windshield wipers before the trip.
  3. Avoid peak travel times. The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) and the Sunday following Thanksgiving, for instance are the busiest travel days. To avoid traffic, consider taking a couple extra vacation days and leave on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving instead and coming back on the Monday following Thanksgiving.
  4. Get plenty of rest. Hours on the road may not seem like a hard, strenuous activity, but it requires constant attention and alertness. You’re more likely to have an incident when you’re deprived of sleep and your judgment is impaired. If you’re driving long distances, regularly stop to stretch your legs and get fresh air to help you stay awake.
  5. Remain calm. It’s easier to say than to be calm during a holiday traffic jam, but taking deep breaths and resisting the urge to drive like a mad-man will make the drive more relaxing and enjoyable. It’s also easier to stay calm when you don’t overbook your holiday schedule and feel pressured to get everywhere as fast as you can.
  6. Avoid distracted driving. Talking on the phone and texting are quickly becoming one of the biggest causes of traffic incidents. Driving, especially long distances and in unfamiliar areas require careful, undivided attention always. If you need to make a phone call, send a text, look something up on the Internet or simply eat, pull off the road.
  7. Keep a safe following distance. If you’re lucky enough to travel in the day and in good weather, a 3 second gap between your car and the one in front of it is recommended. In rain or snow, this three second following distance should be at least doubled. If someone is tailgating you, pull over and let them pass.
  8. Take an alternate way home. Instead of going home the same old boring way, why not switch it up a little? Try side roads instead of the Interstate. A change of scenery can be relaxing and prettier to look at. You may even get around traffic.
  9. Avoid driving impaired. Alcohol is a hallmark of holiday parties, dinners and celebrations. Drinking while intoxicated slows your reaction time and impairs your judgement. It can also lead to fatigue while driving. Every year, impaired drivers are responsible for fatal auto accidents. If you do drink, drink in moderation or have a designated driver.

Don’t let your anxiety of driving dampen the excitement of spending time with friends and family this holiday season. If you would like to improve your overall skills behind the wheel, contact 911 Driving School today.

Improve Your Au Pair’s Driving Skills

Au pair driving courses

Working a demanding 9-5 job while juggling young children is a real struggle for many American households. It is not uncommon to have both parents working full time to live comfortably and pay the bills. Some turn to pre-school, daycare, babysitters and nannies. Others turn to au pairs (or nannies from other countries).

Like other child care providers, parents work with agencies to do careful background checks and examinations of the au pair’s experience and qualifications. While many au pairs have child care experience, their lack of driving skills in a foreign country can be concerning.

Many Americans live in suburbs and areas outside the city, making travel by car a necessity. This is problematic as some au pairs don’t know how to drive or have a driver’s license. This understandably causes concerns from parents who are entrusting their children with someone who will likely be driving them around town. While the lack of driving experience may deter some host families, others have turned to helping their au pair learn to legally drive.

Options for Improving Your Au Pair’s Driving

If you’re of the camp that is willing to work with your au pair to improve and develop their driving skills, there are many online and on-the-road driving training courses to choose from.  Below is a list of possible ideas to help your au pair become a safe driver.

Before entering the country:

Some families want their au pair to be familiar with driving before arriving at their doorstep. The Internet is by far the best option for this scenario. Going this route, you can select an online driving course that fits your needs and budget, .The au pair can then complete the online course on their own computer in the comfort of their  own home. Many online driving courses also offer practice written exams to test the au pair’s driving course knowledge. Completing an online driving course prior to entering the country will speed up the time it takes for the au pair to obtain their  driver’s license.

After entering the country:

Though some families would advise having your au pair learn the basics of driving before arriving, sometimes that may not be an option.

  • Online courses-These can still work, especially if you’re in immediate need of someone staying home with your kids. In-person classes work great if your schedule has some flexibility.
  • Enroll in a driving school– Your au pair will only be able to get behind the wheel training and testing after they have arrived anyways, so why not enroll them  in an adult driving class? They  will learn about safe driving while having the opportunity to socialize. Every city has at least one driving school for you to choose from.
  • Take them out driving– Practice makes perfect, the more behind-the-wheel your au pair gets the more confident you both will feel and their chances of passing the driving test will increase.

Don’t risk the welfare of your kids, the au pair or other drivers by not teaching your au pair to drive. If you know frequent, daily driving will be a part of the au pair’s responsibilities, asking about the au pair’s driving experience during the interviewing and screening process can help you weed down the ones that will be the best fit for your family.

If you do get matched with an au pair without driving experience, know that there are many options available you can choose from to suit your needs, schedule, and budget. Contact for more information about classes available.

Road Construction Safety Tips


More and more major cities and towns are seeing an influx in road construction projects as the condition of local roadways become poor. To avoid the congestion road construction usually brings, many communities are resorting to night construction work.

This further increases the risks to construction workers in an already dangerous occupation. Construction workers risk their lives every day. The National Highway Administration cites that over 20, 000 workers are injured in road construction work zones. Twelve percent of these injuries are caused by incidents involving vehicles. On any given year, there are over 100 workplace fatalities in road construction sites. Almost half of road worker fatalities are caused by vehicles striking, running over or backing over workers.

While the cause of death among construction workers is split between work equipment and passing vehicles, you as a driver can do your part to improve road work construction safety and save lives.

Here are some tips to keep you, construction workers and other drivers safe while in construction zones:

Road Construction Safety Infographic

These road construction safety tips can save a life. Yes, it may be frustrating to get slowed down by road construction. Remember, road construction workers are sons, daughters, moms, dads, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters to someone and they’re improving the safety of our roads for all of our future travels. Be aware of your surroundings, be patient, expect unexpected behaviors and plan ahead. These safety tips are easy to remember and put into practice if you already practice defensive driving.

For more information about safe driving tips, please visit


How old do you need to be to begin your GDL program?

New drivers statistically have higher crash rates. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs allow young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges.

Most programs include three stages:

  • Learner Stage: supervised driving, cumulating with a driving test;
  • Intermediate Stage: limiting unsupervised driving in high-risk situations; and
  • Full Privilege Stage: a standard driver’s license.

View our state map to see how old you need to be before starting your Graduated Driver Licensing Program.

GDL State Map Restrictions

Get more information on teen driving and adult driving courses at

Back to School Driving



Back to School Driving

A new school year is just around the corner, meaning frantic mornings trying to get everyone out the door and to school (and work) on time. In the hustle and bustle, you may be impatient and hurried. Careless driving is especially dangerous near school zones where there are plenty of kids milling about. According to the National Safety Council, most incidents involving kids happen in close proximity to a school.

The start of the school year presents many obstacles to drivers; there are plenty of pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and buses. In your rush to get your children to school by the time the bell rings, consider adding additional time for your morning commute and follow these back to school safe driving suggestions:


Before and after school, sidewalks and streets are filled with children.  Kids can be unpredictable and unaware of their surroundings or the risks. Many kids lose their lives in bus and car incidents while walking. Be on alert for sudden movements and school zone traffic safety laws . Here are some additional safe driving tips to help keep everyone safe:

  • Do not pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians
  • When you’re in a school zone and the flashers are blinking, you must stop and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks or intersections.
  • Do not block the crosswalk while waiting at a red light or preparing to turn.
  • You must always stop for a crossing guard or school patrol officer who is holding a stop sign.
  • Always use extra caution and be on the look-out for children around schools, playgrounds, parks and residential areas.


Kids on bikes are even more of a challenge. They can go fast, make sudden movements and come out from seemingly nowhere. Kids on bicycles, like pedestrians, do not always follow traffic rules and can be oblivious to their surroundings. Here are some school safety driving tips to help you avoid hitting hard-to-see bicyclists:

  • Be extra careful and watchful for bicyclists near schools, parks, and residential areas. Be on alert for bicyclists coming from in between parked cars and driveways.
  • When you’re making a left-hand turn and notice a bicyclist coming from the opposite direction, let the bike pass before turning. In fact, most bike and car incidents happen when vehicles are turning left.
  • If a bicyclist is coming from behind you and you’re turning right, leave at least 3 feet of space ( on the side of the road and allow the bike to pass before you turn.
  • Anticipate sudden movements and child riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling.
  • Check your side mirrors before opening your car door and always use your turn signals.


You can’t complete the back to school chaos without buses. Yes, buses can be slow and you sure don’t want to be behind one when it stops to pick-up or drop off kids. Kids die in school bus-related incidents at drop-off and pick-up sites every year. Most of these are a result of kids getting struck by cars going around buses. Here are some tips to help you avoid such tragedies:

  • You must always stop when a school bus’s yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop sign arm is extended. This is a law in every state.
  • Never pass a school bus after it has just dropped off kids.
  • When stopping behind a school bus, stay at least 10 feet away so children can safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert and extra cautious as it is not uncommon for kids to run out onto the street around a bus stop.

Other drivers:

Though you can’t control the driving behaviors of others, you can do your part in driving defensively to avoid a crash.  Be patient and don’t assume their movements. Chances are they are just as harried as you are. You won’t make things better if you’re impatient and drive aggressively. On the contrary, that behavior will make it more dangerous for everyone. Here are some tips to help you drive more defensively around other drivers:

  • Leave a safe following distance in case the car in front of you has to stop suddenly.
  • Don’t pass a stopped car
  • Avoid trying to squeeze by cars to make a right-hand turn.
  • Don’t honk out of frustration. Other drivers are likely to be just as stressed out as you are and honking may make matters worse.

Also keep in mind that there may be teen drivers taking their siblings to school. These new drivers may not be familiar with driving in traffic or with kids around. They may be extra cautious, so be sure to give them the benefit of the doubt.

For some driving techniques or classes, visit before you head out on the road.

Road trip Checklist

Road Trip Check List

Summer road trip checklist

It’ summertime! Time to pack up the vehicle and head out into the great unknown. Whether it’s a quick trip over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house or a cross-country drive to a new destination, there are several steps you should take to stay safe on the road.

 Here is a list of four simple things you can prepare to ensure safer travel.

  • Check your tires to ensure they are in good traveling condition. Worn tread, tire baldness or bulging could mean big trouble on the open road.
  • Know how to check the basic function of your vehicle. Check the oil, windshield wipers, antifreeze levels and all lights inside and outside of the vehicle before the trip. Prevention is always the best answer.
  • When going cross-country, or on an unfamiliar route, plan your gas station stops well. No one wants to run out of gas in the hot summer weather.
  • Drive defensively. You probably drive safely, but that doesn’t mean the other drivers will. Expect the unexpected. Always keep your eyes on the road, never text or operate the GPS, and do not let others in the car distract you from your greatest responsibility- Arriving to your final destination safely!

Always remember to buckle up, and never drink and drive. Have a fun time on your summer travels. For some driving techniques, visit before you head out on the road.

The Safest Cars for Teen Drivers


Choose a safe car for your teen

Once your teen can drive, you want them to say “yes, mom and dad, your incredibly safe and airbag filled minivan IS cool, I wouldn’t want to drive anything else, ” but we all know that is not the case. Not to worry, there are plenty of cars out there that have been designed to handle wear and tear, are cost effective, and more importantly very safe.

Here are a few things to consider when the day comes that you buy a vehicle for your teen driver:

  • Bigger = Safer – Heavier automobiles are safer and will typically win in a time of  a collision. Larger vehicles such as SUV’s can be a wise choice for your new driver
  • Avoid high horsepower –  Plain and simple – they just don’t have the experience to understand how this kind of power effects a vehicle and are likely to not know how to safely operate them
  •  Electronic stability – This technology has been mandatory in vehicles since 2012. It automatically helps maintain stability while navigating the terrain. There is proof that this technology has reduced fatal crashes nearly by half.

The fatal rate for teenagers is 3 x times higher than all other drivers. However, within the past 10 years, the safety requirements for vehicles have improved tremendously. The industry has been required to improve the safety aspects of all their vehicles.  Any parent will worry regardless,  but there are reliable and safe vehicles available that can help put your mind at ease.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released a list of vehicles, which they have categorized into “good choices” and “best choices.” This shows the best large cars, midsize cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickups in both the “good choices” and “best choices” categories, all of which start under $20, 000.

Make sure your child gets a proper driving education and plenty of supervised road time. Giving them the necessary skills to know how to navigate in the world of driving is the only way to truly help them stay safe on the road.