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Risk Management in Driving Instruction

Essential Competencies

Risk management is a critical component evaluated under the new standards check for Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs). The standards check assesses ADIs in three main areas: lesson planning, risk management, and teaching and learning strategies. This article focuses on the competencies within risk management and how instructors can effectively address them.

Key Competencies in Risk Management

1. Ensuring Pupils Understand Shared Responsibility for Risk

One of the primary competencies in risk management is making sure the pupil understands how the responsibility for risk is shared. Once a goal is agreed upon, it’s crucial to define how the risk will be managed during the lesson. For example, if a pupil decides to practice emerging from junctions independently, the instructor might state they will keep the car safe, stepping in only if necessary. This allows the pupil to focus on their task while the instructor remains vigilant for safety.

Alternatively, if the goal is to execute a turn in the road, the instructor might handle observations while the pupil concentrates on the manoeuvre's accuracy and control. This approach ensures the pupil has the best chance of achieving their goal while maintaining safety.

2. Clear and Timely Directions and Instructions

Effective risk management involves giving clear and timely directions and instructions. If a pupil chooses to navigate a route without directions, the instructor must still provide instructions if agreed upon or if a safety-critical incident arises. Instructions such as "At the end of the road, turn left" are clear and prevent confusion, unlike vague or last-minute directions which can distract the pupil and increase the risk of mistakes.

3. Awareness of Surroundings and Pupil's Actions

An instructor’s awareness of the surroundings and the pupil's actions is vital for managing risk. Constantly assessing the environment and the pupil's responses helps in identifying potential hazards early. For instance, if a pupil is practicing maintaining adequate clearance from parked vehicles and a pedestrian approaches a pelican crossing, the instructor must be ready to intervene appropriately to prevent an incident.

4. Timely and Appropriate Verbal or Physical Interventions

Intervening verbally or physically at the right time is crucial in risk management. The instructor must judge when to let the pupil handle a situation and when to step in. For example, if a pedestrian presses the button at a crossing and the pupil does not respond, the instructor might ask, "Do you think you need to slow down for the lights ahead?" If the pupil still does not react, a direct instruction such as "Slow down for the lights" or using the dual brake if necessary ensures safety.

5. Providing Sufficient Feedback on Safety-Critical Incidents

After a potential safety-critical incident, providing sufficient feedback is essential for the pupil’s learning. If physical intervention was required, the instructor should explain the action taken and reassure the pupil, ensuring they are ready to continue. In less critical situations, discussing the incident during a debrief helps the pupil understand what happened and how to manage similar situations in the future.

Managing risk effectively is fundamental to successful driving instruction. By ensuring pupils understand shared responsibility, giving clear and timely instructions, maintaining awareness of surroundings, intervening appropriately, and providing thorough feedback, instructors can create a safe and productive learning environment. Integrating these competencies into regular teaching practices not only prepares pupils for their driving tests but also fosters lifelong safe driving habits.

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