How our students on the Gold Coast learn to drive

When we begin to teach new students, we will go right back to basics. To create a good learning plan, we need to understand learning. This is the best way to learn to drive.

This blog is an overview of our Gold Coast Driving School plans lessons. It is based on the average trainer and the average student, with average learning capabilities and skill.

Male or female Driving Instructor?

This may not seem too important but when it comes to learning to drive, driving lessons, teaching strategies and lesson plans this is something that should be considered.

Females have great visual and peripheral vision awareness; males have good speed and spatial awareness. You might often hear dad say, “you could have gone, I could’ve driven a truck through there” when the daughter has taken too much time. Or your mum saying, “Stop! It’s too close we would never make it”.

We also need to consider age.

Both the age of the learner learning to drive and the age of the instructor. A young learner driver may be more rash from not understanding the risks. An older trainer may be over cautious not allowing the learner to learn from mistakes jumping on the brakes all the time to be over cautious.

Parents as Driving Instructors

The first thing I tell parents is to expect your vehicle to strike the kerb or hit that pot hole. You might get some rim damage, possibly even a minor scratch or dent. If your learner is learning a manual, they will over rev the engine and ride the clutch. Their steering at the beginning will be erratic, and their peddle control will be harsh. If they are learning in your pride and joy, or your only means of transport, I would recommend not using it till they are at a capable level. This will be approximately 15 to 20 hours (if they are receptive). (With an accredited Driver trainer they can allocate triple time for up to 10 hours of normal driving – 5 x 1-hour lessons = 15 hours)

The seven learning styles.

Visual (Spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
Aural (Auditory): You prefer using sound and music.
Verbal (Linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
Physical (Kinaesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
Logical (Mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems, Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
Solitary (Intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study. We need to understand which style our students use so we can develop a learning plan to suit.

This comes with experience and time, as any teacher or driving instructor will tell you. Learning and understanding learning styles is a skill that some trainers and or teachers may never get, but regardless it takes time and experience.


Now this is an interesting subject. Unfortunately, there are many teachers and trainers who feel this has nothing to do with learning. In my opinion and experience, it has a great deal to with learning. Have you ever sat through a boring lecture as the instructor talks in a monotone voice detailing every minor detail that’s irrelevant to the overall topic?

I’m not talking about personalities as in is the instructor funny or grumpy, I’m talking about what we call in the training industry, personality styles. Personality style has been defined as “an individual’s relatively consistent inclinations and preferences across contexts.”

Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of personal traits and patterns of behaviour. They say there is about 16 personality types or traits.

When coaching or teaching, I use a personality profiler called D.I.S.C. Everyone has a little bit of all the D.I.S.C. characteristics though they will tend to be stronger in a certain area.

A “C” personality style is very precise and needs to know every detail, (For example, their CD collection would be perfect and in alphabetical order) this type of student wants to know every detail and why it happens and what if’s. As a trainer, they want to tell you every detail, and they often talk in a monotone speech as they don’t get excited about the facts as they are just facts.

An “I” personality will get bored very quickly with a “C” style instructor and shut off and a “C” style student will become frustrated with an “I” personality instructor, as an “I” personality is about just going over the tasks what needs to get done and move on forget about specific facts. You need to understand a student’s personality and match them. It can be difficult to change your personality style and teaching style and again takes time and experience.

Setting out a driving lesson and lesson plan.

Firstly we need to remember no matter what experience our learner may have we will always start with the basics. We then move forward at a pace that suits the learner driver.

What we want to produce are safe and reliable drivers.

The Teacher

At the start we are like a preschool teacher, writing out the letter A in dots and allowing the student to trace over, we even gently hold their hand and guide them if necessary. Encouraging and positive reinforcement. They will make mistakes, stay calm and let them know it’s okay, refresh and repeat the task until they can draw that letter A on their own.

The Lecturer

We then need to progress to the professor or lecturer, where we set a task and give guidance, answer questions and let them try on their own. Only assisting when required. We allow mistakes but advise what could have been done different or better, or how I would have done it.

The Coach.

Then we progress to the coaching stage. We practise what we want them to do, then they go out and do it. Just like a coach you can’t run on the field and do it yourself or give instructions half way through the play. I tell parents and instructors to write down any mistakes they make. You need to be quiet in the passenger seat and take in what they are doing. Unless necessary try not to intervene. They need to make the mistake and try to correct, remember they will be driving very shortly on their own. They need to learn. At the end of the drive, just like a coach ask the questions – how do they think they went? What could they have done better? You want them to be analysing their driving, the same when they are P platers.

A new driver’s risk of being harmed or involved in a crash increases to around 20 to 30 times from that moment they get their P’s and start driving on their own, usually in the first six months.

While on their L’s, they are in the safest category of road users; L platers are harmed less than any other group. In the time it takes to sit and pass a provisional licence test – about a 30-minute test – learner driver’s move from being statistically the safest drivers on the road to the most at risk.

So what we are looking to achieve in the coaching phase is for the learner to self-assess, self-instruct, self-supervise and self-correct themselves, so as to learn how to stay safe, to make the correct decisions.

The First Lesson.

I find some driving schools, instructors and parents often go all out in this lesson, trying to teach everything and over-whelming the learner driver. I will tell the students not to worry about indicators, or shoulder checking to start with; I want them to learn peddle control and steering (if manual; peddle control and gears then steering). That’s the goal for lesson 1.

To be able to have correct peddle control we need to be set up in the correct seating position and posture. I often find by the end of the hour of the 1st lesson the student will be able to take off without stalling, change gears, and in most cases be able to hill start on a slight incline. Their steering should also be coming along nicely as well. This lesson should be performed in quiet streets, if they are struggling with steering then maybe a carpark for some figure 8’s to assist. However, try to stick to clear open back streets when possible, not car parks.

The Second lesson.

Here we start to get onto roundabouts, introducing indicators, mirrors, and shoulder checks. We also want to start to drive on more open roads. We will go through traffic lights if they are feeling confident and changing up and down gears if manual.

The next group of lessons is all about the progression. Increasing traffic exposure, motorways, lane changes and merging. Bay parking (shopping centre parking forward and reverse) and other manoeuvres, below is a guide as to where a student should be by a certain point.

Student progression guide.

1 – 3 lessons

Seating position; Steering control; Clutch control, stopping and starting. Manual – Using all gears and hill starts. Checking mirrors, blind spots and cockpit drill. Using indicators. Left and right turns. Road position. Being aware of various speed zones, roundabouts and driveways.

3 -7 lessons

Using your mirrors. Merging on and off the motorway. At speed merging, lane changing, various speed zones, Bay Parking (forward and reverse), 3 point turns, reversing skills, U-turns and reverse Parallel parking.

7 – 10 lessons

Planning a drive to somewhere the Learner would like to go. Night Driving on the Motorway, country, and city. Busy traffic merging, country roads or other important situational driving. Navigational points, in-depth hill-starts, busy traffic drives. Overview of all manoeuvres and situational driving.

So If you are looking at this guide and do not feel that you or your learner driver are somewhere on track with this, unfortunately, you are being taken for a ride.
You are not getting value for money for your driving lessons.

This guide, if done with a driving school will add up to 30 hours in your logbook. This is where you need to start practising what you have learnt.

Now, if you’re thinking to do the first five lessons only and then completing more lessons later in the driving journey that’s great too.

Same deal, get in the vehicle and practice.

You will be at the 15 hours mark in your logbook. How you want to approach it is up to you, whether you chose to do five or 10 lessons at the start.

Longer – providing more hours behind the wheel
Wider – experiencing a greater variety of driving challenges, in all conditions
Deeper – gaining a greater understanding of the psychological, emotional and mental challenges involved, and the true responsibility that each driver holds.
This is explained in the Keys 2 Drive philosophy.

By about the third lesson your driving instructor should not be using their peddles this also includes manual to take control of the vehicle for any reason, but using the secondary controls with you to assist you if you get a little flustered,

By the fifth lesson, your instructor should have no contact with their peddles, except in a rare situation, such as support with a difficult manual hill start with a vehicle sitting very close behind you.

I have received feedback from students about other driving schools that even by the 7th lesson, the instructor would tell the student to put their feet flat on the floor while the instructor used clutch and gears and the student steered at roundabouts. They even used the peddles for the student at intersections. This is sad and does not assist the student but is the way to make more money from extending lessons for cheap affordable driving schools.

Be aware of the driving schools and driving instructor’s lessons that continually stop and explain at length basic manoeuvres or stay close to your home to save on petrol. This isn’t in your best interest.
If you’re ready to start learning to drive, you can book your lesson in here or get in touch.

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