What is it like to sit in the driving instructor’s chair?

Are you scared?

The fear of crashing causes a significant drop-out of new driving instructors in the first few years of entering the business.

Recently I had an owner say to me, “It’s ridiculous to pay an instructor $30 an hour to say Turn left! Turn right!”

Not only is it dangerous, but it’s often viewed as a simple low-skilled job.

I can remember that moment I resolved my fear of crashing and finally ended the struggle I had sat in for the first year of teaching in the daredevil chair.

It was an AHA moment when I finally accepted both realities of the situation: I could crash, and I could not crash. This was the reality that I had to accept and embrace. Be ok to crash! I overcame those first few years of fear and graduated to the daredevils chair by accepting that yes, I could crash.

A recent client coined this ‘daredevil’ label, and I think it is appropriate.

However, instructors seem to deal with this to daredevil reality in several different ways.

  1. I ignore it and play the odds like gambling.
  2. I am a nervous wreck, and I panic most days, but it’s a job.
  3. I do everything possible to learn how to reduce my risk of collision.

GROUP 1

90% of us do not crash with A 10%, Actually about 8.3% Collision Rate In B.C. So playing the odds is reasonable, and many trainers simply crash occasionally, accepting that it’s ok. It’s the odds. It’s ok.

Group 2

Some trainers are scared, grabbing the wheel regularly or slamming on the brakes, or yelling at the new driver. Controlling the car, the new driver and the ever-changing traffic is a constant struggle, which over time is certainly not healthy for the instructor.

Group 3

And then comes the learning of everything-possible, understanding how to manage the car, our safety, and the traffic environment at the lowest possible risk. This is the 3rd category of trainers. And learning these crash prevention strategies, reducing the risk of moving every day in a car, is a vast body of knowledge few get to master. But over time, decades, if one is willing and always paying attention, they will learn it. Many have these extended driving years but don’t improve. But you can continuously improve your awareness if you focus on the improvements. A considerable part of this group’s learning is communication. Effective communication with the new driver who is in control of the car! This is a very critical component in keeping safe when sitting in the daredevil chair. It’s both visually and mentally demanding. Note here I cannot sleep in a car. It’s impossible because my brain will not let me close my eyes. This also requires a ton of physical driving in all kinds of weather, vehicles, and terrains. This is an important skill required knowing how and when to control the car, aggressively if needed. Building a safe and robust position when living in the daredevil chair requires extensive experience in several different yet related areas. This takes enormous amounts of time, lots of not-so-pleasant experiences, all with constant full attention.

Groups 1 and 2 above are a lot less work.

I Have Evolved

Many Have

You Can Too


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Materials presented here are for education purposes only referencing two ICBC materials,Tuning Up Drivers Manual, Learn To Drive Right Manual, training material from the 3 week Driving Instructors Licensing Program and amterials from the GLP classroom certificate Program.

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