it's in your hands

managing different situations

Managing 'Difference'

Unfamiliar or difficult situations – like driving in the rain or driving new roads – can be scary for everyone in the car.

Below are some tactics to help your learner become adaptable and learn handle different situations quickly. Talk them through with your learner and encourage them to use them in tricky situations.

  • Proactive tactics – tips for planning ahead when you know you could be driving somewhere new or difficult
  • Responsive tactics – tips for on the road, when you have time to think things through
  • Reactive tactics – tips for when you feel under a lot of pressure

Proactive tactics – when you can plan ahead

  • Plan and think through where you’re going and the best route. If unsure, ask.
  • Match the route to your ability. Learn difficult skills in easier situations first.
  • Use navigation technology (GPS) if you have it and if it helps.
  • Avoid complex situations or difficult right turns, unless you have someone to coach you.
  • Have someone in the know go with you; ask a passenger to help you navigate.
  • Give yourself more time, and go at the safest time.
  • Practice in your mind how you will manage difficult situations before you get to them.
  • Make sure you have a clean windscreen and that your seat and all your mirrors are perfectly adjusted.
  • Eliminate, or at least reduce, distractions in the car.
  • If you make an error, use the reactive tactics described below.


Responsive tactics - when you have time to think things through

  • Look ahead as far as you can comfortably see - you'll have more time to respond to any hazards or challenges up ahead.
  • Nearer the situation, respond earlier than normal - usually this means ease up on the accelerator.
  • Make yourself breathe slowly and deeply, relax your neck, shoulders and arms; this will help you think more clearly and drive more smoothly.
  • Keep extra space between you and the car in front.
  • Take note of situations that look a bit different to those you have already experienced. Rehearse in your mind how you will manage the situation.


Reactive tactics - when you feel under a lot of pressure

  • Keep driving with the flow of traffic.
  • Avoid sudden use of the brake, accelerator, or steering.
  • Ease up a little on the accelerator - going slower gives you longer time to react.
  • Politely ask noisy passengers to be quiet - you need to concentrate.
  • Relax and breathe deeply and slowly.
  • If the anxiety levels are really high, look for a safe place to pull over and stop. Before pulling over, though, look behind and signal for at least two seconds.

Next: Dealing with learner confusion