Getting practice with parents or friends can be usefulGetting practice with parents or friends can be usefulThe best advice for parents and those who want to help others to learn to drive is to make sure that the learner has as much experience as possible with a qualified instructor.

I cannot and will not advise you to supervise any learner driver. You can so long as you follow the relevant laws, but the choice is entirely one for you to make.

It's quite normal for you as a parent and friend to want to help, but even as a very good, safe driver, it's highly unlikely that you'll have the knowledge, skills and experience to make sure that your learner is doing things correctly.

 Having said this, the most essential skill for learners to develop is physical coordination, and the more practice they have at this the better.

Just make sure you have your car fully insured, the 'L' plates are on securely and that you comply with the law. You have to remember that when you supervise a driver you are just as responsible for the car and for safety as they are.

MSM

Once aspect of driving you really can help your learner with is to make sure that they know, understand and carry our the Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine before they do anything.

Moving out for a parked car? - MSM

Turning into a junction? - MSM

Approaching a pedestrian crossing? - MSM

(insert anything you can think of) - MSM

Hopefully you get the picture. MSM really is that important, so you can help a great deal if all you do is to make sure that your learner checks the mirrors and considers a signal before doing anything at all.

On their driving test, the MSM routine is one of the most important things that the examiner will watch them for, so get to know how the test is marked and take time to learn about driving faults and consider how to avoid them.

It's also a great opportunity for your learner to practice road positioning using reference points, but you need to make sure they realise that these will be different for different cars. Your practice car may have reference points entirely different to similar reference points on their instructors car.

Pick Your Time, Pick Your Route

Pick your time, location and route as carefully as possible.

Both you and your learner are entirely responsible for every aspect of your time together, it's simply impossible for me or any instructor to advise you on the specifics of what you should do and when.

If you do decide to supervise a learner driver, try to have a specific goal in mind for your learner, rather than just going for an aimless drive. Even if this is just something as simple as making sure that the learner selects the correct gear, your time will be useful.

If your car doesn't have dual controls, and particularly if the learner is still inexperienced, it may be wise to keep the car in very quiet areas with little traffic.

Developing Coordination

Pick your route carefully, choose an area suitable to the learnerPick your route carefully, choose an area suitable to the learnerCoordination skills can be developed in quiet areas, in fact it's better to be on quiet roads to develop physical skills. The less dangers outside the car to worry about, the better. Just remember that these physiological skills, the connections from the brain to the limbs, take time.

One theory of learning I completely agree with through personal experience states that with physical skills such as driving, a confused state is not just inevitable, it's essential. In other words, it's necessary for the learner to feel some sense of confusion and lack of co-ordination for the skills to develop. The brain needs to know that new connections are needed, otherwise it simply won't create them.

The following may seem like a strange story to make the point, but it highlights just how important co-ordination really is. I have previously worked with a number of young offenders who had regularly driven cars unlawfully. None of them had much knowledge of the Highway Code or the specific skills needed to pass the driving test.

What they did have, however, was a remarkable sense of co-ordination and the physical movements needed to drive a car. None of them had to worry about how their hands and feet were moving. Because of this, all of them were able to throw their full attention out of the vehicle and concentrate on the new knowledge they needed to pass the driving test.

The speed with which they learned was remarkable. It was quite common to see them develop into drivers of test standard in a fraction of the time a normal learner driver would.

I have absolutely no doubt that their highly developed physical skills were the reason for this.

100% of their brain power was focussed on learning the rules of the road and how to drive safely, not a second was lost due to lack of co-ordination.

Developing Low Speed Control

Another area that benefits all learners is the ability to control the car at low speeds. This is essential for almost all aspects of driving from dealing with roundabouts to moving off safely from the side of the road.

Read the page on how the clutch works if you're not sure and make sure it's completely safe to practice driving and car control at very slow speeds if you decide to do it.

If you do decide to supervise a learner driver, one very specific goal you could have is to simply develop these co-ordination skills. Changing gear, using the clutch slowly and smoothly, checking the mirrors before they do anything, all of these are of great value and could help enormously.

Dave