Control Skills

I admit it – when it comes to driving instruction I’m a control freak!

You’ve probably read my opinion about the fact that there are no secrets in driving instruction – but the misconceptions and misunderstandings that you may hear from many ADIs and ADI trainers let alone those preparing for the Part 3 test may make “control” seem like a well guarded secret. I wonder how many people preparing for their Part 3 test have come away from their training sessions having been told that they need “more control” but haven’t been told what control is, why it’s so important that we become skilled in them and most importantly how to do “it”.
The commonly held misconceptions are well illustrated by a well used saying used by many ADIs:

An ADI should be able to instruct in any environment.

The saying is simply not true; it’s not possible to instruct in any environment, and what they really mean when they say this is that an ADI should be able to maintain control in any environment. But even this isn’t completely true because until your pupil has an appropriate level of co-ordination of the controls you can’t even maintain control in a busy and complex driving environment.
As you work your way through this section you’ll:

  •  Discover what control means and how you can maintain it in any APPROPRIATE environment depending on the level of skill possessed by your pupil.
  • You’ll learn how control differs from instruction (although it is used as part of the instructional process).
  • Understand why you cannot maintain full control of the car (and the pupil) and instruct at the same time although you can instruct and be ready to take control when you need to.
  • Most importantly you’ll learn how some simple routines that you’re already familiar with are used to take and maintain control.
  • You’ll also gain an understanding of when you need to be in control, when the pupil should be in control and how to react when the S.E. takes control.


So what is control? Well quite simply when I’m referring to control I’m talking about the ability the “drive the car from the passenger seat”, and doing so enables you to take the lesson rather than experience how it feels when the lesson takes you! So we have to learn how to utilise the same skills that we use as drivers but be able to perform them from the passenger seat of the car.

Control skills are “just what’s written on the tin” – they’re skills and we have to possess them ourselves but we also have to be able to teach our learner drivers about them as they progress through their training towards being able to drive independently.

If you’ve read the earlier sections of the site and understand that each PST subject consists of two elements; the routine that we’ll be using in the lesson and the “rules or how to give and take priority” in relation to that subject it should be quite easy to understand that our control skills relate to the routines that we use to arrive safely at hazards rather than the knowledge that we have and our pupil needs to learn about the hazards themselves. As we spend most of our time as drivers preparing to arrive safely at hazards it stands to reason that someone needs to be in control for the majority of time that we’re driving; in the next page we’ll begin our examination of “control” by looking at how the transfer of control from the ADI to the pupil can happen during the course of a learner driver training programme but I’d like you take on one important point now which I’ll be explaining about later – as driving instructors:

We should be driving the car 100% of the time.