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If you teach Pull-Push steering, then you do not coach, nor do you have a client-centred approach. Before you jump up and down at the fact that I have dared to raise the steering debate, please let me take a moment to explain. Coaching is about Choice, Consequences and Responsibility. If you tell your pupils how to steer:

  1. You deny them the opportunity to make a Choice,
  2. They are unable to experience and discuss the Consequences of their Choice,
  3. They do not experience taking Responsibility for the driving task.

Practising making choices and decisions is important and reduces the risk of being involved in a road crash. Making choices and experiencing the consequences of those choices is how we all survive as human beings. When we make a poor choice and experience negative consequences then we can choose to adapt our behaviour in order to experience positive consequences. This is all about us taking responsibility and is as critical to the whole of our lives as it is to driving. The whole point of adopting a client-centred approach and coaching our driving customers is to improve road safety by preventing the appalling slaughter of young people (men, in particular) on our roads.

I have mused before about crash helmets and the idea that if we all were forced to wear these as drivers then we would be much more likely to survive a serious crash. But coaching is about preventing the likelihood of a serious crash occurring in the first place rather than looking at minimising the tragedy of it once it has already occurred. It has to be more effective to coach people how to make choices, consider consequences and take responsibility for their actions and decisions, than to insist that everyone wears crash helmets.

Individual differences in human beings means that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work. We know that one fifth of newly qualified drivers will be involved in a serious crash once they pass their driving test. Could this be partly down to the fact that they have been taught to drive in a way that does not suit them? Could this one fifth of people be the same people who struggle at school (or, indeed, excel) because they fall into the extremes and a ‘one size fits all’ approach is also being used in the classroom? People learn best when their learning preferences are taken into account and appropriate communication techniques are used to address these preferences. They also learn best when they are treated non-judgementally, neutrally and equally. What they learn is that:

  1. Their thoughts and feelings influence their behaviour;
  2. They have choices to make every time they are out driving;
  3. There are consequences to the decisions they take;
  4. They need to be aware of their strengths, limitations and development needs in order to remain safe as drivers;
  5. Their emotional state will affect the way they drive;
  6. They are statistically at greater risk of being involved in a crash because of their inexperience, age (17 to 25 years old) and gender (if male).

If instructors tell their customers what to do, rather than giving them the choice, they are only using one style of teaching and are not giving value for money or ensuring that learning takes place. They may be overlooking the one fifth of learners, who are most at risk of being involved in a life-threatening collision when driving unsupervised. They are not addressing any of the above six points which relate to the higher levels of the Goals for Driver Education matrix.

Coaching could reduce the number of casualties on the roads because it is a client-centred approach that focuses on Choice, Consequences and Responsibility. Telling will maintain the status quo. And steering is just one example of how easy it can be to keep the responsibility for the learning process with the learner, where it belongs.

Lincs Driving Solutions, Lincoln