If being watched whilst you're driving doesn't bother you, or if your instructor has prepared you for this, this article isn't for you.
If the thought of being watched does bother you, feel free to read on.
Here's a strange thing I hear very often, always from learners who've previously been with other driving instructors. This is far more common than you may think, and if you've already taken a driving test, being watched closely by the examiner may have surprised you.
Here's the low down.
It's going to happen so you just have to learn to deal with it and accept it.
The examiner on your driving test will watch you like a hawk. Some of them literally. They'll often turn their head towards you and you just may feel their eyes burning into you. Spooky!
Not really. It should be completely normal to you if you've been well prepared.
If you've been on a driving test and were surprised or felt uncomfortable about how the examiner watched you, I'd be concerned. Your instructor should be watching you in a similar way so you should feel right at home.
I'll put this in the most honest and realistic way I can. The examiners job is to assess your driving and to mark your test. They do that by being aware of what you're up to whilst you're driving.
And when I say "what you're up to" I mean everything.
How Do Examiners Watch?
The examiner will be aware of where you're looking, where your hands are on the controls and when your feet move to the pedals. They'll know which way your head moves to look around, they'll know what speed you're doing even though they often can't see the speedometer.
Here's another fact that many learners don't really understand. The examiner will know all of these things even when they're not looking directly at you, because they are so skilled and experienced in assessing every aspect of your driving that they sometimes don't need to look.
The examiner will see a situation on the road ahead. They'll know immediately what the right thing to do is, and they'll compare their internal sense of what you should be doing with what you actually do.
It's really very simple, that's how they identify driving faults. All they do is compare what you do and how you react to the way they would if they were driving in the same circumstances. The examiner simply looks at the road ahead and decides how they themselves would apply the MSM routine and then deal with the hazard.
If the examiner notices a fault in your driving, they record it in the appropriate space on the marking sheet.
ADI Part 2 tests (the driving test instructors take as part of the qualifying process) and I notice the same thing time after timeI've sat in the back seat of dozens upon dozens of learner driving tests. I've probably sat in the back of even more Instructor
For most of the test the examiner may seem relaxed, even chatting about your day or what you do for a living, but then suddenly their attention is on the driver 100%.
This sudden switch often happens at key moments during the test, for instance when a hazard appears ahead or you stall the car and the examiner wants to observe you carefully to see how you deal with it.
But it's a bit more involved than that. Here's the truth. The examiners attention is on the driver 100% of the time, all of the time, even when they appear to be relaxed. Please note I said 'relaxed', I didn't say 'taking no notice'.
Some of them choose to sit at a bit of an angle so they can look fully at the driver most of the time. It's absolutely normal.
The point to take home from this is that you should feel as though you're being watched all the way through your test.
Please don't make the mistake of thinking that the examiner is just out for a drive. That's not the case, it's never the case. You are being watched closely the whole time. You shouldn't feel or react any differently when the examiner physically turns to look at you, it's just one of those things that will happen and you need to accept it.
Another way of looking at this is to remember what you're trying to achieve. You want a full driving licence. The examiner is more than happy to make sure you get one if you're driving is safe, and the way they do that is by watching you. Instead of feeling uneasy, you should be really quite happy with it because it's the way to get through and get that pass.
Can I Prepare For It?
Yes. Simply knowing that it's going to happen gets you ready for it, but your instructor should fully prepare you for this.
If you've taken a test and you were surprised by how much the examiner watched you, then I'd question whether your instructor looked at you at all during your lessons. It's essential for your progress and your standard of driving that your instructor pays attention to you and what you are doing, exactly the same as the examiner will. It means you get used to being observed and that your instructor can help you to sort out any faults you may have.
How can an instructor sort out any faults if they don't see them? You'll just carry on making the same faults. That's no way to prepare for a driving test.
All good instructors will watch you closely to some degree.
Unfortunately, many not so good ones don't.
During your travels, take a look at other driving school cars when they're teaching a learner. Pay attention to the instructor. It's amazing how many of them are updating Facebook on their phones, reading or sending texts, looking out of the side window paying no attention at all to their learner.
No wonder I hear it mentioned many times that learners are unnerved by the examiner looking at them. Their instructor should have been doing exactly the same thing right from the start. By test time it should be just any other day.