The ADI view
The standards check is always nerve racking and it never gets any easier in my mind, the pressure is always on, including continuation of my livelihood. I spend my working life advising ADIs and trainers on standards check and coaching skills, however, doing it myself still feels a tall order and it’s never nice being watched by an examiner and putting what you preach in to action.
Kathy, our DIA editor was kind enough to volunteer her services and we focused on a drive, as an experienced driver who is considering the pros and cons of going from a manual Mini to larger automatic SUV. Before the standards check we went for a short assessment drive. The drive gave me a good grounding to understanding how to pitch the lesson, set achievable goals and most importantly the ability to keep it client-centred.
The assessment drive incorporated rural roads, which I was not familiar with and unexpectedly I needed to use my dual controls on what was a very large, water logged pot hole that Kathy hadn’t spotted. Kathy realised her speed and anxiousness of the cars behind were affecting her judgement, control and safety. So we had a plan and things to work on the following day, the actual standards check day.
That evening I checked the route, my timings and any unforeseen possible hiccups, like roadworks, that I wasn’t aware of. I struggled to find a suitable road to pull over half way through the lesson, if needed the next day, so I secured a plan B in my head just in case.
8.30 am came around quickly and before I knew it I was meeting my examiner at Crawley test centre. Funnily enough the examiner who took me was the examiner for my part 3 ADI qualification nearly 20 years ago.
All went well on the drive itself, we agreed on a commentary drive, first from myself as a passenger observing and then Kathy had a go on the same route back. The power of a commentary drive never ceases to amaze me and Kathy’s commentary was brilliant, she drove so well, highlighting all the hazards and potential risks and more importantly, she had learnt to slow down and not worry about the driver behind, job done, I was pleased. Plus I was delighted to pass my standards check with an A, I was proud and relieved all at the same time.
The ‘student’ view
I was asked by our chief Diamond examiner, Karen Bransgrove, to be her ‘pupil’ for her standards check. I readily agreed, though I felt quite nervous. My own learning to drive experience was fraught. Back when I passed my test, I won’t say how many years ago, I was a nervous learner. It took me four tries and three different test centres to finally get that driving licence. I treasure it every day as a result!
Despite the anxiety, I knew working with Karen would be a great opportunity to brush up on my driving skills with a pro. We all have more to learn, and I know from experience, and working in this industry, that we all pick up bad habits. Learning to be a safer driver is never a bad idea.
Karen and I discussed what I would like to cover in the lesson for her standards check test. My first thought was manoeuvres, as reversing has never been a strength of mine. However, once we explored the area close to Crawley test centre, we realised there was nowhere safe to work on this. So we had to come up with an alternative plan. It’s important to be flexible in the standards check and prepare meticulously.
My current car is a small manual Mini, and Karen has a large automatic Juke, so we decided to work on improving my skills driving a different kind of vehicle. I’d like my next car to be electric or hybrid, so getting used to an automatic is important. Even if I can’t go full eco, spending half my life stuck in traffic means I’d love an automatic anyway to save my clutch leg!
Preparation is key
Preparation is so important; make sure you explain exactly what’s going to happen with your student and what they can expect. Karen took me on the route we were doing to take and explained clearly what we needed to do. We discussed what I wanted and she made sure she tailored her standards check around that, while also ensuring it was possible in the time allowed and area. We agreed that she would do a commentary and I would do a commentary.
As a driver of 20+ years, I suspected I had a few improvements to make. This was confirmed after Karen and took our first lesson together.
Our route took us round many country roads, and Karen’s commentary urged me to take bends more slowly and to prepare much further in advance. I was too much of a fast corner taker, particularly when someone was behind me as I found that intimidating.
Karen’s advice was to say ‘imagine there was no one behind you. How would you drive?’. Though this may sound obvious, it helped me calm down and not panic when someone was close behind. Let’s face it, if someone is tailgating, going slower is much the best option for numerous reasons, not least as they’ll crash into the back of me if something unexpected is round the bend!
Karen also drove the route herself that evening to make sure she found a safe place for us to pull over and talk. Preparation is essential. Make sure you think of everything and plan accordingly before you set off.
Once Karen had done her commentary, it was much easier for me to do mine. I drove carefully at a safe speed and didn’t feel the panic I often feel when going round windy roads.
Speaking of bad habits, many years ago I was told it was safer to accelerate round a corner, and not brake, as this meant the car hugged the road better. It’s amazing how something someone says in passing sticks with you. This caused me to go too fast round corners. Karen assured me that it was much safer to slow down!
After it was over, I was delighted (but not surprised) that Karen received an A. I left feeling proud of myself, extremely pleased for Karen and a safer and more competent driver.
It seem difficult to find someone to take, but an experienced driver who you trust is a great bet and they can get a lot out of it.
This experience has improved my confidence, as well as making me a much safer driver. We all have more to learn, whether we’ve been driving for one year or 50. I’ve even decided to take our Diamond advanced test, so I’ll keep you posted on that one!
I think this is a great way to sell it to whoever you wish to take with you on your standards check. They’re getting a free advanced driving lesson to smooth out any rough edges they have. I’ve taken everything Karen said forward into my everyday driving.
Tell your friends that they will be getting your expertise for free. It might be just the sell you need!
What you need to know
As well as making sure you’re well-prepared, and that your lesson is client-centred, there are practical things you need to know. On the day you must bring:
- Your ADI registration certificate, even if you aren’t taking money for the lesson
- A pupil (they can be a learner or full licence holder, but not another ADI)
- A suitable car
The Road Traffic Act 1988 (as amended) requires ADIs to periodically show that they continue to maintain the minimum standards of instructional ability to remain on the register. The timing of the standards check is determined by the Registrar.
Knowing the area
It’s your responsibility to know the area around the test centre where the standards check is taking place. You should take time to familiarise yourself with it.
Source: ADI News
Why not share this post?