Giving Directions to a New Driver
by SWERVE Driving School
Giving clear driving directions can be a challenge but is absolutely critical for a new driver. How many times has a passenger given you poor directions and you've missed a turn? Late, incomplete, or vague directions can cause confusion, anxiety and result in mistakes and safety issues. Here’s what you can do to help relieve that confusion and anxiety for a new driver – and for yourself as their coach.
- Let the appropriate level of urgency by using the "First where, then what" format. For example: "At the stop sign, we'll turn left" is always more effective than "Let's take a left...no...not this road...wait...keep going...at the stop sign."
- Give directions as early so the driver can process them--but not earlier.
- Stay a block or two ahead and if necessary, repeat your directions as you get closer to ensure comprehension.
- Asking for a new driver to turn at the last second can cause panic and result in rough or erratic steering.
- Too early, and they're almost certain to forget them. For example, "Seven intersections ahead, we're going to turn right," is too far in advance.
- Make sure your directions are as specific as possible. Using terms like "the next street," "your lane," "our lane" etc. in your driving directions isn't always clear enough.
- To further prevent confusion you can tell them where not to turn before telling them where to turn. For example, point or wave off certain roads with your hands and for extra clarity use a landmark. Directions like "Not this street, but the one after it, we'll turn left" or "See the blue mailbox on the side? At that street we'll turn right.”