Driving Lessons - Mum and Dad sit-ins can work

Based on an article in Safety Education, Summer 2010

Parents sitting in on their children's driving lessons can really help them to develop skills to supervise the learner on private practice drives.

This on one of the findings of an evaluation of the Young Driver Coaching Programme resource pack devised by Staffordshire County Council's road safety unit. (Download the YDCP Report (PDF 792kb)

The lesson sit-in was successful, as predicted by the programme designers, in helping parents understand how their learner was being taught and in helping learners show their parents the progress they were making.

Initially parents were concerned that tier children would be distracted by their presence but his concern was not shared by the learners.

A further success of the sit-in was its beneficial role in resource pack recruitment. The sit-in provided a channel of communication and was an ideal situation for ADI's to explain the pack to both learners and parents at the same time.

However, if the introduction of the resource pack is tied to sit-ins, then they need to start in the early stage learning. At this stage learners and supervisors are not already settled into a routine so the resource can merge smoothly into being simply the way that learning is done.

The pack consisted of a learner driver's record book and a supervising driver's information guide. The resource pack aimed to bring about a beneficial three way relationship between parent/supervisor, learner and ADI.

The underlying principles of the YDCP are to increase the effectiveness of private practice in conjunction with professional instruction, and to involve parents in the learning to drive process. These principles are supported by findings from international research on road safety, learning to drive and adolescent development.

Parents engaged with the resource pack materials in flexible ways, principally by using the supervising driver's information guide as reference book; - as something to refer to when questions or conflict arose. ADI's, learners and parents were universal in their entirely positive accounts of how the resource pack helped to avoid or solve conflict.

Many parents commented that their own driving knowledge and beliefs about driving might not be quite as satisfactory as they once thought.

The programme designers did not intend private supervision to replace formal professional learning. However, from the outset of the resource pack there were concerns aired by ADI's that in promoting the resource they would be losing paid business.

ADI's feared that by increasing the amount of private supervision, learners would opt to reduce the number of paid professional lessons they take. This fear was not substantiated but warrants further attention.

For further information contact Irene Williamson at Irene.williamson@staffordshire.gov.uk

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