Higher Order Cognitive Skills

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We at Tristar believe the education of our young drivers is of paramount importance, in order to establish life-skills and to provide the basis for forward learning.

In addition to supporting BRAKE the national Road Safety Charity, we actively teach Safe Driving for Life – not only in Alsager and Stoke on Trent, but throughout all our areas of operation.

We have adopted a client-centred approach, whereby the pupil is involved at every stage of their learning process. In addition, we don’t actively promote the “Pass-in-a-week” idea; perhaps the following will provide a greater insight into the way we conduct driving lessons in Alsager and Stoke on Trent:

Research shows that teens:

Drive with smaller gaps between vehicles (thus more rear-end collisions) and use seatbelts less often; Are involved in more single-car collisions; Are overrepresented in night-time and weekend collisions; Are more likely to be at fault in a collision; be speeding; carry teenage passengers, ignore signs and signals, overtake vehicles in a risky manner and fail to give priority or consideration pedestrians.

But Why? Inexperience;  Immaturity (Development); These factors interact with each other


Not enough time behind the wheel; Teens overestimate driving skill; Teens underestimate collision risks;

A BAD Combination(!) that leads to: 

Reduced hazard perception; Slower reaction time; Underdeveloped vehicle manoeuvring and visual scanning skills.

These factors boost   collision risk!

Mental Workload:

Driving is a complex, mentally demanding task, requiring higher level cognitive, perceptual, & motor skills. Over time, the driving task becomes more ‘automatic’, decreasing the workload demands on the brain results indicate that the first few times behind the wheel almost all of the information processing capacity is absorbed in simply maintaining the car’s position in the lane.  As experience is gained, peripheral vision is used more to locate the vehicle in the lane, with observations focused further down the road to allow more time to process information that becomes of increasing relevance as the vehicle’s speed increases.”  

Visual Scanning:

Young drivers are less able to scan wider ranges on the road than older drivers; look closer to the front of the vehicle and to the right; focus on keeping the vehicle in the lane. With increased experience, drivers are better able to focus their forward observations, rely on peripheral cues, and scan wider areas.

Even when specifically instructed to pay attention to road signs, inexperienced drivers miss significantly more signs than experienced drivers.  Young drivers are relatively poor at identifying distant hazards, although they compare well with older drivers in identifying near hazards.”

During Late teens, adolescents are, in a real sense, ‘thinking’ with their emotions.

Teens may also be more drawn to stimulus-seeking and risky behaviours because of different sensory-perception and social-development needs than adults; Less susceptible to awareness of alcohol or drug effects than adults; More influenced by and drawn to peer interactions. Alcohol / drugs reduce social inhibitions more powerfully for teens than for adults, thus, risk-taking, stimulus-seeking, and peer-influenced behaviour of teens is powerfully driven by developmental events.


About the Author:

Mike Dawson founded TRISTAR Driving and is a qualified driving instructor who has trained many driving instructors as well as pupils.

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