How to do commentary driving:
Using a commentary, or narration, will help you look and plan ahead, and organise your thoughts. And it will also immediately improve the way that you perceive and deal with hazards.
To do a commentary describe out loud what you see well ahead of the car, trying to start with what's in the far distance, and talking about what's closer if you've got enough time. Identify the hazards, and say what you are going to do about them, such as checking the mirrors, and whether you are going to change speed or position. This will make you think much further ahead than the average driver and will improve your driving immensely. It is very difficult to do, but will get easier the more you practice, and is well worth the effort.
An example of a commentary you may hear from Alan:
"I am keeping a 3 second safety gap from the car in front. As I approach the brow of the hill I am checking my mirror and looking for brake lights from the car in front to give me an indication of any obstructions ahead that I can't see yet. The road ahead is now clear. There is a zebra crossing in the distance, so I am checking my mirror again and looking for any pedestrians that may be walking towards it. There are bushes to the side so I am aware that someone may walk out from the side that I can't yet see. The crossing looks clear, so I am now looking ahead as far as I can see along the road. There are a few parked cars by a row of shops ahead. - So I am checking my mirrors, and moving out towards the centre of the road. Taking an early post ion will show any cars coming the other way that I intend to go through. There is another car coming so am looking for his reaction to me. If he doesn't react I can still slow down or pull back in if I need to. He moves to his left slightly so I know that he has seen me. I am out in position now about 5 car lengths before the first car and over a car door's width away. Just in case someone opens a door as I go past. One of the parked cars has its brake lights on, if they go off he may either pull away or open his door. I'll cover my horn just in case I need to use it to warn him I'm here "
Part of your lessons:
During my fleet driver trainer course in 2002, with Pro-Drive in Stafford, I was taught to commentary drive. I had already been a driving instructor for 18 years, but I still learnt a vast amount on this course. Commentary driving was the major emphasis of the whole week course, because it is so important to be able to do to teach advanced driving. If I consider that it will be beneficial to your progress, I will teach you how to commentary drive as part of your normal driving lessons, or as part of your Pass Plus course if you decide to do that after you've passed your test.
Alan's YouTube channel demonstrating commentary driving technique:
To find out more about commentary driving you can also see the videos by Sgt Chris Gilbert, driving instructor to HRH Prince William, HRH Prince Harry, The Duchess of York, The Duchess of Gloucester and The Earl of Ulster: www.driving4tomorrow.com