Driver Hub  Learning to drive  Advice for learners   Instructor advice on Private Practice
young girl and mum in car driving

Instructor advice on Private Practice

We Are Marmalade profile

We Are Marmalade

July 7, 2020

Learning to drive 8 min read

Since learner drivers up and down the country have been stopped in their tracks due to COVID-19, getting back on the road when restrictions are lifted could be a daunting experience. We’ve spoken to Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Chris Bensted to give his advice on private practice and how you can get that confidence and skill back behind the wheel after the driving break due to COVID-19.

You’ll be forgiven if you feel like you may have forgotten how to drive after the long break due to Coronavirus. The good news is that we know driving is all about age and experience, so with a little bit of practice, you will be back in the swing of things in no time!

With driving test centres on hold and a challenging ‘new normal’ to get to grips with, I’ve come up with a few ideas to help you get back in the driving seat.

How to get the most out of your private practice?

As lockdown continues to ease there will be increasing opportunities to develop your experience with private practice before lessons with an instructor start again. However, COVID-19 means the rules can change at any time and it is important that you stay inside the rules. This in itself is a vital part of driving, keeping up with changes and developments.

The following ideas are designed to help you plan, develop confidence and experience, giving you the best chance of success, on and after the test.

The wheel of driving!

As you will see above, the wheel is divided into 8 sections. Your job is to allocate each part of the wheel to an aspect in your driving. It can be different every time, and it is about what is important to you. You may choose to look at your manoeuvres, junctions, speed on approach, roundabouts, etc. Or you may want to tackle one specific subject, maybe roundabouts, dividing the circle into Speed, Position, Mirrors, Signal, judging traffic, Entering, Exiting, Relaxing. Or maybe label it based around your feelings – Confidence, Relaxation, Attention, Focus, Adaptability…. Whatever you feel if most important to you.

Once you have labelled each section, you should mark how you feel about each section. 10 is 100% happy with it, or 1 being not at all happy (you could even mark a zero). Do this for each section completing your ‘wheel’. The ideal would be a big, round 10 out of 10 circle, but none of us are perfect, are we?

Now decide which section you wish to focus on improving.

Think of how you can build this into your journey. What roads will you be driving? Can you follow a different route to the one you usually drive? How can your accompanying driver help support you?

Once you’ve been out and practised, it’s time to mark again and reassess. Follow the same steps and mark if and how much you feel you improved. It can go up, or down – the aim is to see your progress.

Making the most of your time

I’m not saying every practice session has to focus on every aspect of the wheel – here are some ideas on how to use time behind the wheel for private practice when you may not have hours free to drive.

A quick trip (15-minute session)

A great way to use these shorter journeys is to build confidence. Just think, every journey is made of steps, and every long journey is made of smaller ones. Why drive until you get it wrong? Drive to get it right.

This type of drive is great for a reflective log or driving diary to give yourself an honest review to look back on.

Journey ideas

Often these are the everyday drives:

  • A trip to the shops
  • Giving someone a lift
  • Delivering a package

What could you add?

  • A manoeuvre
  • Pull up and stop in a bay, then move off
  • Fill up with fuel – Maybe even check the tyre pressures while you are there.

A reasonable trip (30-minute session)

A 30-minute drive is similar to that of a driving test. While the test takes a little longer, it is usually this much driving with a bit of chat and paperwork.

Therefore this is a great way to gauge how well you can maintain that top form, especially under pressure.

Journey ideas

Rather than a specific route, look at the content. Work with your accompanying driver to include:

  • A manoeuvre
  • A ‘show me’ question
  • Good mirrors and observations throughout
  • A stop junction
  • Following signs or a SatNav for some of the time
  • Maybe an emergency stop BUT this must only be done in a secure area with a prior warning!
  • Random stop and move off, including a hill and from behind a vehicle

A longer outing (1-hour session)

An hour is a great time to tell a story. Putting yourself in the lead role where you are the star.

This allows you to ‘be’ the driver you are aiming to be after you pass. Think about the challenges you would face, situations you will have to handle independently and might find challenging.

Journey Ideas

You could do anything or go anywhere (Except the Motorway roads or A-roads that are designated Motorway standard – there are only a few of those). This in itself may be enough to get you being creative and ‘playing the role’. Or for the more literal amongst you, combine it with the Wheel of Driving to assess what you want to achieve.

You may find that an hour is too much for a single session. Break the hour up into units (I prefer to have each section as 10 minutes, but it’s up to you!). Then allocate the time accordingly, it may look like this:

1 Unit – Warm-up
2 Units – Roundabouts
1 Unit  – Parallel Park
1 Unit  – Unit moving off and stopping safely on busy roads
1 Unit – Driving home and reflecting

Just going for a drive is fine, but try to include a purpose or goal and take the time at the end to reflect on:

What you did well?
What you improved on?
What needs work next time?

Learner Driver Insurance→

Get short term cover on a friend or parent's car as a learner, to help you get that magic pass!

We Are Marmalade profile

By We Are Marmalade

'We champion young drivers with award-winning low cost insurance for learner and new drivers and a great young drivers' car scheme.'  See more posts by We Are

Share this article

Angry man in car pointing
Learning to drive News Young driver stories 6 min read

Victims of road rage - Learner driver stories

Chloe Martell profile

Chloe Martell

October 17, 2019

As many of you know, we’re petitioning for change on how learner drivers are treated when they’re on the roads. Astonishingly, 90% of learner drivers have been subject to tailgating and overtaking when in their…Read more

Young girl in car
Driving advice Owning a car Young driver stories 6 min read

Kimberley's MOT misery

Kimberley Dodge profile

Kimberley Dodge

September 27, 2019

Fear. Dread. Horror. No, I’m not talking about the rush of panic when you spot a spider in your bedroom. I’m talking about the stab of fright that pierces your heart when you hear the…Read more

Interior Audi A1 steering wheel
Owning a car 7 min read

Audi A1 - Chloe's review

Chloe Martell profile

Chloe Martell

March 7, 2020

As a young driver, whilst I like to think that reading reviews about cars from petrol heads will help me when it comes to choosing my car, it really doesn’t. I want to know what…Read more