Jo was a busy single mum, for whom time had seemed to fly by.
When she called me it took a little while to associate the voice, the name and hardest of all – the face.
I had taught her some eight years earlier – an eighteen year-old having successfully gained three “A” Levels and her thoughts turning to university.
Then, when she learned she was about to have a baby, she also discovered the baby’s father had disappeared from the scene.
Jo’s dad was unimpressed – so much so that Jo was forced to move out of her home and move to her Godmother’s home some 250 miles away in South Devon.
Now here she was, sitting behind the wheel of my car, insisting that she had forgotten everything, while all the time progressively going through an unprompted cockpit drill.
She was pretty much the same as she had been eight years ago – the voice perhaps taking on a slightly deeper and mature tonality and her hair now collar-length, instead of the volumes that used to sweep down her back as a teenager.
She moved away steadily and was soon back into step, taking right and left junctions, T Junctions and crossroads with her customary ease.
However, roundabouts – her old bogey – remained an obstacle that she needed to overcome.
After trying one or two solutions, we entered into a coaching conversation to determine her opinions and beliefs regarding roundabouts – what were her feelings as she approached the hazard?
What needed to happen (in her opinion)?
It seemed she was scared of traffic from her right and the possibility of it colliding with us as we negotiated the roundabout.
I asked her to take me, verbally, through a typical crossroads, which she did quite successfully, without a pause.
I drew the crossroads on my scrap pad, then placed a circular area in the middle and asked Jo did this change anything for her.
She looked puzzled then had to admit it was still a crossroads, despite the “lump of concrete” in the middle.
Where did we observe before emerging at crossroads?
Where was our main area to check before we emerged?
Who had priority as a vehicle approached from our right?
If the driver was signalling to turn left – how should we react?
Her answers to these and other questions were all correct and she found it surprisingly obvious when I switched the scenario to that of a roundabout.
No further problems.
Her next targets were ones with which she had struggled as a teenager – Manoeuvres!
Now the majority of learners still seem to place a tremendous emphasis on the left reverse, turn in the road and reverse park, despite only being required to perform ONE such manoeuvre in their test and despite the fact that the exercise took up a minute proportion of the practical test’s duration.
With Jo, as with almost all of my pupils over the last 20 years, it was more practical to emphasise the need to do all the various exercises, including manoeuvres, SAFELY and UNDER CONTROL, with good EFFECTIVE OBSERVATIONS THROUGHOUT, as a part of normal safe driving, rather than as a preparation for a 38 minute test.
I needn’t have worried, for as the weekly lessons progressed, so did Jo.
She had a new-found purpose for learning to drive now – her daughter Amy was seven and was already a promising gymnast.
In September 2013, Jo took her test at the Crewe Test Centre and passed with three driving faults.
I’m so glad she looked up her old Instructor and that she remembered most of the things I’d taught her – even the “Mike expressions” as she called them.
If you’re a busy mum (or dad for that matter) and never actually got around to taking your driving test in your teens, why not do
what Jo did – call TRISTAR DRIVING 07581 421415.