ADI Part 3 - Fault Identification

ADI part 3 - what's your 'learner' up to?

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The Keys to Success

"Getting your level of instruction right is important for Part 3 success . . . listen carefully to what the SE tells you at the start of your PST and pitch your instruction accordingly"
Harry Elkan ADI Trainer

Fault Identification

Every fault the SE makes on Part 3 is an opportunity to passThe first stage in rectifying your learners (or the SE's) driving faults, is in seeing them and identifying them.

If you allow your learner to drive around aimlessly, without ever informing them of the error's they've made, there's very little chance of improvement.

It's therefore vitally important that you develop the skill of spotting any driver errors, and there's quite a bit more to it than simply waiting for the learner to make them, then hoping that you see them.

Fault identification is a two stage process. First, you have to actually see the fault, or become aware of it somehow

Next, you have to inform the learner of the fault, so that they know what they've done wrong and can aim for improvement.

Clearly, you'll need to use your communication techniques to the fullest when informing your learner of the faults you've seen. It would be so easy to demoralise them and have them lose motivation. How do you feel during your training sessions, when your trainer tells you that you've not done too well?

In our experience, many had found that they felt very uncomfortable, and it left them with a sense of dejection. Take the decision right now that you will never allow your learners to feel like that.

Let's take a look at this two stage process in a little more detail . . .

Spotting Driver Errors

As I've said above, it is simply not good enough to sit as passenger, waiting for your learner to make errors, hoping that you see them. This could be described as 'passive instruction', and this method will not give you the best chance of success at part 3. It would also not give your learners in your future career, the best service that you can give them.

You are training to be a driving instructor, not a driving passenger. So instruct.

What I'd like you to develop, is the skill of 'active instruction'

Make your instruction active by pro-actively looking for faults before they occur.

ADIT 2 day Recovery Training has meant the difference between a new life or failure for many traineesConcentrate on your learner. Be acutely aware of their every action, every gear change, every look in the mirrors.

It is simply not good enough to use a general rule, such as "look at your learner 75% of the time, and the road ahead 25% of the time"

Strive to be aware of both your learner and the road ahead 100% of the time.

With practice, this is achievable and within the capabilities of almost all trainees. If you find this skill difficult, keep practicing. If you never achieve complete mastery, you'll go a long way towards it . . . certainly far enough to succeed at part 3.

Ask yourself on a constant basis . . . what would I be doing? . . . what is my learner doing? . . . what should my learner be doing in the next few seconds?

This is also where your skills of anticipation and advanced observation will come in very useful. So go back now, and review your skills in these areas.

When you anticipate a hazard ahead, no matter what it is, you need to have that 'sixth sense' of what your learner is looking at, what they are feeling, and how they are dealing with the road conditions.

You can hear the indicator ticking away when they signal, you can feel the difference in the car when they put the clutch down too soon, you can see their road positioning and where they are looking, and you can ask yourself if your learner is doing what you would want to do if you were driving. If they aren't, why not? What should they be doing?

It's not hard to develop this skill, and you can start by practicing at simple emerges.

Think about it now . . . no need to be in the car to start developing this skill. Just imagine, your learner is approaching an emerge onto a main road a few hundred yards away. You haven't yet given them directions, but you want them to turn left . . .

In the absence of other pressing hazards, you look directly at your learner and say "at the end of the road is a 'T' junction, where I'd like you to turn left"

Now, keep your concentration on your learner and watch your learner carefully. What you're looking for is the interior and nearside door mirror checks. Try not to look away until you've seen your learner do them, but safety is always the number one priority, so use your anticipation skills to the full, timing your very quick glances at the road ahead carefully.

When the mirror checks are done, you can mentally tick them off, and move on to concentrating on listening for the signal, how it is applied, and if it's the right one.

You don't need to look directly at the learner to see if they are in the correct road position, or to tell if they are slowing down.

As they approach the junction and get very close to it, this is where your nerve and skill as an instructor will be tested to the full. You must resist the temptation to look up and down the road whilst your learner is negotiating the junction.

You should be closely watching the learner, not the road. You should ensure that your learner takes good, effective observations in all directions before they emerge over the white lines.

Try to stay ahead and be proactive rather than reactiveRemember, safety overrides everything, and you will not allow your learner to emerge unless they have taken these observations, so in reality, all you need to do is to take a very quick look left just as your learner decides to move.

Whilst you are watching the learner, you can see past them to the right anyway, so you already know that way is safe. As your learner looks to the right, you can steal a quick look to the left, before they move.

A very good rule of thumb is "never allow your learner to see the back of your head"

Whilst you concentrate on your learner as they approach the junction, you can also look for what gear they are in. Have they changed down to the right gear? Did they 'palm' the gear stick correctly? Are they applying any gas ready to move?

Just before the learner actually emerges, concentrate on looking for that all important final mirror check. This is so often missed by trainees and it's a vital check for the safety of the car.

Once the emerge is complete, watch the learner closely again. Now you're looking for the mirror check in the new road, and the appropriate degree of acceleration away from the hazard.

The emerge is now over, and you can share your observation between the learner and the road, but as the car approaches the next hazard, you must ensure that you have 100% concentration on what your learner is doing.

Practice sharing your observation between the learner and the road ahead. This balance will shift on a constant basis, as you approach hazards of varying priority, and with learners of varying competence.

Never forget that safety is of paramount importance, and that safety comes first in everything you do

Types of Driver Errors

In very broad terms, it's possible to classify driving errors into 3 main areas. These areas are co-ordination, procedural and attitude.


Co-ordination errors are those typical errors made by very new drivers, such as lack of control of gas pedal and clutch, push pull steering all over the place (can be very funny!), being unable to steer and control the gas at junctions, unable to control the car at very slow speeds for junctions and when reversing.

ADIT 2 day Recovery Training has meant the difference between a new life or failure for many traineesThese errors tend to correct themselves as the learner driver progresses, but make sure they correct themselves properly! Don't allow bad habits to form at the beginning. You'll find them a nightmare to rectify later.

As an instructor, you can help by ensuring that the correct route is chosen so that the learner doesn't have to negotiate too many turns and hazards. On part 3, it's usually a matter of watching closely, prompting your learner with positive verbal instruction. The SE on part 3 will learn very quickly if you teach them well.

Procedural errors

These are errors in road procedure and routines, such as ms-psl errors, approaching junctions or roundabouts in the wrong lane, errors in the POM routine for moving off.

As with co-ordination errors, these errors need to be dealt with positively and effectively. Again, bad habits become very difficult to sort out later, so do it now!

Positive, active instruction and repeating the procedures for simple hazards or simple road situations will pay dividends. You can use effective question and answer techniques to establish your learners knowledge - you need to know, did they forget? or did they have no idea what to do? Your analysis and remedial action could be different for each case.

On part 3, the SE can (probably will) make ms-psl errors, so make sure you know it thoroughly and instinctively.

Errors related to Attitude

These errors can be quite subtle to deal with. They include the full range of procedural errors and sometimes even speeding, driving up to junctions at breakneck speeds, emerging without taking full observations, carrying out manoeuvres too quickly and without effective observation.

You need to take control in these situations. Read the advice on pulling up or keep moving for a fuller discussion. You'll need to use effective question and answer techniques to establish why your learner isn't looking, or approaching hazards too fast.

Errors in attitude are usually of the "Why do I need to look? I know there's no one there" variety. Your analysis will need to include a short discussion about what could happen if your learner emerges without looking or approaches junctions too quickly, or crosses the path of another vehicle unsafely. As always, you need to remain flexible.

Informing Your Learner

So, you've been very pro-active and spotted the faults. Well done. Now, how do you bring them to your learners attention?

Do you know the ms-psl routine? Are you sure? it's the foundation for every PST, so get it rightThe first thing to say, is that you must tell your learner (SE) of the fault. Never, ever assume that a fault is so obvious that the learner (SE) will already be aware of it. It is quite possible that your learner (SE) has no idea that the fault occurred, despite how obvious it seems to you.

Well, there are two main techniques, and which one you chose and how you decide to do it will depend on many things . . . safety comes first, so you won't start to inform your learner of a serious error whilst they are still in the middle of a busy crossroads or on a major roundabout. You'll also need to consider your learners skill level and the severity of the error committed, amongst others.

The two main methods are: 1) you directly tell them what went wrong, and 2) you use Q and A to see if your learner can tell you what went wrong.

It is not possible to give you a firm set of rules on which you'll choose. Instruction is a very varied thing. Each learner is different, each error has differing accompanying circumstances. So use your skills and your training to decide how you'll do it.

As a very broad rule of thumb, for phase 1 learners, you may be better advised to simply point out the error directly.

A learner at the very start of their course of driving lessons will find it difficult to see which errors in driving they've committed, and will also often have difficulty in understanding what went wrong with their car control skills.

For a very new learner, the universe is a small place. In fact, it's no bigger than the cockpit of the car, so asking them what went wrong at a junction may be a little like speaking martian to them. They are more concerned with keeping the car going and pressing all those scary pedals than they are with correct road procedure.

For an example of pointing out an error directly, we could use "You cut the corner on that right turn Marie . . . that was because we were going a little too quickly. I'll prompt you to slow down more at the next one and you'll soon see how easy it is"

A more experienced learner may be different. In this case, Q and A may be very useful. In fact, it would be more useful, because the learner will have discovered the answer themselves.

For example, our phase 2 learner commits the same error . . . now we could say "do you feel that we could approach that junction any better, Kevin?

An experienced learner, who is aware of road procedure, may reply "yes, I cut the corner because I was driving a bit quickly . . .etc"

Of course, if he replies "No, it was fine", then you have to identify the error to them. At phase 2, this could give you the warning alarm to pull up to speak to your learner. Don't get into an argument about what happened whilst the car is hurtling towards other hazards.

By the way, on your part 3 test, you don't 'think' anything. You 'know' everything. You should avoid phrases like "I think you cut that corner . . ." The SE will no doubt see this as an opportunity to challenge you, and to test your resolve. Do you know? or do you just think?

Make sure you learn to fix the common faults the SE makes on Part 3Be very aware of the fact that the error was committed. Ensure that this is pointed out, whether the learner agrees or not. You are in control, so make sure that things are done your way

Use this questioning style carefully, and avoid getting into any lengthy arguments about what happened. You are correct, and don't swerve from that stance.

So, to conclude . . . 1) actively look for the errors, then 2) bring them to your learners attention. You can't do the second unless you do the first, and there's not much point in doing the first if you don't do the second.

I hope this introduction to identifying faults has been of value.

ADIT Team.

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