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.
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
Here are some testimonials from previous students:
"I learnt to drive with Alan and passed my test first time. Alan was patient and calm, even when i made squeaking noises. He never pushed me to try anything i wasn't ready for but also challenged me enough that i was progressing every week. His random expressions - "it's a clutch, not a foot rest" "lots of lovely mirrors" genuinely helped me to remember everything. As long as you can endure his jokes - "i'm just getting my binoculars so I can see the curb" - then i would recommend Alan to anyone" Willow Scarisbrook - Thundersley
"Alan was the exact kind of instructor I was looking for - local, reliable, available at the times I wanted and good value for money. Alan never rushed me on any of my lessons, and knew exactly how far to challenge me each time and increase my confidence.
I found Alan to be calm, chatty and very good at explaining things without being condescending. I found the website useful especially in preparation for my test. Alan prepared me so well for my test day, that I wasn't even nervous! I would happily recommend Alan to anyone thinking of driving lessons, and the trial lesson was a great idea!" Angela Borst - Rayleigh
"I passed first time with Alan about 6 years ago. Would definitely recommend" - Rachel Harle, Hawkwell
"i would definitely recommend to learn to drive with alan. Brilliant instructor. i managed to pass first time last week! thanks again" - Emily Leverington, Hockley
"alan is a great to learn with, i passed first time with him. He managed to explain each maneuver so that i could understand them easier, i enjoyed every lesson and recommend him to any new drivers in the hockley and rayleigh area" - Craig Vile, Hawkwell
"Even as a North American with nearly 7 years of previous driving experience I understood that I would need lessons to prepare for the practical driving exam. Over the course of our sessions Alan's manner of teaching and focus directly reflected the content and style of the exam. His advise and instruction is based on years of experience as an instructor but also driving a wide variety of vehicles and industries. Moreover his natural love of teaching, seemingly endless patience and eagerness for conversation create a comfortable learning environment.
Most impressively driving with Alan not only allowed me to pass my exam but also made me into a much better driver. Without exaggeration since finishing my driving lessons I have consistently been complimented on my driving by family and friends. Previously I would never have thought to take driving lessons unless I needed to pass the exam but now I can say that anyone who is looking to simply improve their driving, become more comfortable and safe on the road would do well to spend some time with Alan. Many thanks!" - Jacob, Rayleigh
"I just wanted to thank you for teaching my son Max so well. I really appreciate it, good teachers like you are rare, and you helped him pass first time which is a miracle! So thanks again" - Sam
"Before I started my driving lessons with Alan, I had someone else, who I didn't really learn anything from. When I started with Alan, he taught me how to pull away very easily! He makes you feel comfortable when you're driving. He teaches you all the manoeuvres in a simple way so they're very easy and quick to learn" - Nicola Skeels, Hockley
"Alan is a friendly and relaxed instructor. You can go at your own pace and concentrate on your weaknesses and improve your strengths. Alan is very well prepared and lessons are structured with variety" - Nicola Avert, Ashingdon
"Alan is calm, patient, reliable, and good at explaining things and easy to talk to." - Karen Benton, Rayleigh