'Teaching' Spatial Awareness

Discussion on Advanced and Defensive Driving. IAM, RoSPA/RoADA, High Performance Course. All associated training. Car training.

Postby AnalogueAndy » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:43 pm


Just taken on a new Associate; 19 passed his test in July after 18 months with an ADI.

He's come to the IAM because he's had too many 'close calls' since passing his test and has no confidence (should he have gone back to an ADI not the IAM? Possibly.)

Done 2 runs with him so far. It's clear we need to build on the basics first. His observation is severely lacking, hazard perception, steering...

One of the issues is his spatial awareness. He is profoundly deaf and I wonder if it's connected (he can't ride a bike for example). He has great problems judging the width of his vehicle (Fiat Punto) and relative gaps and distances. Couple this with lack of forward observation and he tends either to rush into non-existent gaps or slow to a crawl to go through perfectly 'safe' ones.

My plan today (I'm out with him later) was to use a more controlled environment - there are a couple of local parks with 'one way' circuits, parked cars and a chicanes but no 'oncoming' and low speeds.

Another idea was to take a couple of road cones up to my favourite 'wide open space' (local rugby club car park) and get him to drive between the cones.

Other than that and generally building his confidence is there anything else I could be doing?
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Postby ROG » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:02 pm


I've not been in this situation but perhaps a call to one of the charities for the deaf will help in you understanding the associate better and they may have a reason for the spacial awareness thing - possibly a solution!

I've had spacial awareness probs before with drivers and I found a way of helping, a bit like your cones, which was to use 2 empty wheelie bins and get the driver to watch the clearance in the mirrors as they went through - this was done on a large residential car park.
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Postby Renny » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:19 pm


You do like a challenge!

Some of his issues may be connected to the hearing loss if it is the inner ear that is effected as his balance will be linked to his non-visual perception of speed. He will be more reliant on vision as he will not get the non-visual triggers about vehicles approaching from behind or side.

Your suggestion of the cones was what I would have gone with, also try getting him to practice parking in a marked space, away from other cars, if your rugby club car park is lined. Using cones will help visual awareness, but parking when the lines are on the ground and there is no obvoius visual target will develop this further. Other drills could include stopping on a line, running a wheel over an object on the ground (like a car mat), slalom courses round obstacles etc.

I presume you have overcome the obvious communication problem. As for the ADI option, not all ADIs would be equipped to deal with the issues you describe.

Let us know how you get on.
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Postby AnalogueAndy » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:39 pm


Thanks guys that's helpful.

ROG wrote:I've not been in this situation but perhaps a call to one of the charities for the deaf will help in you understanding the associate better and they may have a reason for the spacial awareness thing - possibly a solution!


I should have made clear that we chatted on the phone beforehand about his hearing impairment and again sat in the car before we went out. I also did some googling. Advice was obvious really, speak slowly and clearly, confirm with hand signals (which I do anyway). He does lip read also so I pull-him over more often and get him to face me and talk things through.

Looking again at my first post I realise I might have painted too bleak a picture,I didn't mean to imply deaf drivers can't be good drivers :oops: Above all he's keen, got the right attitude and I'm sure we'll get his standard up :)
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Postby ROG » Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:00 pm


AnalogueAndy wrote:Looking again at my first post I realise I might have painted too bleak a picture,I didn't mean to imply deaf drivers can't be good drivers :oops: Above all he's keen, got the right attitude and I'm sure we'll get his standard up :)


You didn't on either count :D :D :D
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Postby zadocbrown » Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:15 pm


If it's going to be a long haul I think it becomes more important to consider actively the independant/self directed learning aspect. Otherwise, you run into problems with motivation or trying to do too much too soon. In this situation I would forget the test for a while, get the associate to work out for himself what part of his drive needs to develop first, and help him with that. It doesn't necessarily matter if it's not what you would have chosen, because there will be plenty of time for that later! Good luck.
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Postby AnalogueAndy » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:08 pm


zadocbrown wrote:If it's going to be a long haul I think it becomes more important to consider actively the independant/self directed learning aspect. Otherwise, you run into problems with motivation or trying to do too much too soon. In this situation I would forget the test for a while, get the associate to work out for himself what part of his drive needs to develop first, and help him with that. It doesn't necessarily matter if it's not what you would have chosen, because there will be plenty of time for that later! Good luck.


You're spot on. Especially with the independent / self-directed learning comment. After four 1hr plus runs he's made little progress on the first issue we've agreed he needs to address - steering. That's despite us spending time on each run slow speed steering in car parks, interspersed with me demonstrating. Although he's keen he is also reluctant to practice on his own. Having so recently finished with an ADI he's still in the mindset that he 'only needs to drive like he needs to to pass his test when he's with his instructor (like he did with his ADI). I hopefully instilled into him today that he needs to find time to practice, be self-disciplined or (said in a nice way) he's wasting my time :(

I've had one like this before, came to the IAM after colliding with a heavy and extremely nervous, 6 months later her confidence had improved but she still had a way to go and sadly we (her, I and our Chief Observer) agreed the IAM had done as much for her as we could..
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Postby zadocbrown » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:03 pm


AnalogueAndy wrote:You're spot on. Especially with the independent / self-directed learning comment. After four 1hr plus runs he's made little progress on the first issue we've agreed he needs to address - steering. That's despite us spending time on each run slow speed steering in car parks, interspersed with me demonstrating. Although he's keen he is also reluctant to practice on his own. Having so recently finished with an ADI he's still in the mindset that he 'only needs to drive like he needs to to pass his test when he's with his instructor (like he did with his ADI). I hopefully instilled into him today that he needs to find time to practice, be self-disciplined or (said in a nice way) he's wasting my time :(


What's wrong with his steering?

AnalogueAndy wrote:I've had one like this before, came to the IAM after colliding with a heavy and extremely nervous, 6 months later her confidence had improved but she still had a way to go and sadly we (her, I and our Chief Observer) agreed the IAM had done as much for her as we could..


The great advantage of IAM/Rospa is (or should be) the flexibility that is possible when everything is voluntary. Unlike the DSA or emergency services we don't have to be a sausage machine churning out a consistant product; nor should we be, in my opinion. I wouldn't begrudge someone a longer than usual apprenticeship so long as progress is continuing. (Still less would I tell someone they were 'good enough already' and pack them off for their test straight away, as happened to me........... :shock: ) It's about putting a breath of fresh air into a person's driving and giving them the tools they need for continued improvement. The test is really only a medal, not an end in itself.
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Postby AnalogueAndy » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:35 pm


zadocbrown wrote:

What's wrong with his steering?


Allied to his lack of spatial awareness and poor obs, his steering inputs are 'too much, too late and too 'violent' (jerky) (esp. fixed input). He's getting ok at push-pull at slow speed (manoevrng and in the car parks) but out on the road he ends up doing a (bad) mix of 'shuffling' (failing to use full width of the wheel) and fixed input. Plus he's still getting his grip wrong, letting go of the wheel etc. All of his movements lack any smoothness or control.

I've seen similar before (also with 'new' drivers) but normally after spending one, maximum two sessions (including intensive slow speed car park style stuff interspersed with me demonstrating) they get it.

Any ideas welcome!

AnalogueAndy wrote:I've had one like this before, came to the IAM after colliding with a heavy and extremely nervous, 6 months later her confidence had improved but she still had a way to go and sadly we (her, I and our Chief Observer) agreed the IAM had done as much for her as we could..

zadocbrown wrote:
The great advantage of IAM/Rospa is (or should be) the flexibility that is possible when everything is voluntary. Unlike the DSA or emergency services we don't have to be a sausage machine churning out a consistant product; nor should we be, in my opinion. I wouldn't begrudge someone a longer than usual apprenticeship so long as progress is continuing. (Still less would I tell someone they were 'good enough already' and pack them off for their test straight away, as happened to me........... :shock: ) It's about putting a breath of fresh air into a person's driving and giving them the tools they need for continued improvement. The test is really only a medal, not an end in itself.


True. Agree with all that. Perhaps I gave the wrong impression, as martine commented in a thread recently, I guess we'd all much rather be helping someone younger who really needs our help rather than an (older) reasonably competent driver, but I'd be interested to hear how long you think is the longest IAM/Rospa should spend trying to get someone up to an 'acceptable' standard if not 'test' standard. As you say I guess the key is 'as long as they are improving'.

It transpires that this guy had misread the IAM literature and believed we're offering a kind of 'Pass Plus Plus' service. As I said at the start he might have been better off going back to an ADI, not because I don't welcome the challenge, nor because I don't think either myself or the IAM are up to the challenge..

Again, I'd welcome views!
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Postby zadocbrown » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:17 pm


I wonder if you just need to be patient? We're talking about someone quite inexperienced, and good steering takes a long while to develop for many people. Have you considered leaving more time than usual between runs? That would leave more time for practice and perhaps you could take on a more short term project concurrently.

Do you really need to focus so much on the steering? Could you teach him something else while allowing steering to develop naturally? Is he too focussed on the physical aspect rather than tuning into the result? What roads are you using - can you take him somewhere where the road will do the coaching for you? Does he agree he has a problem, or is he not sensitive enough to notice?

For this kind of problem I studiously avoid talking about pull-push at first. Crossed hands is often only a symptom of the real problem which is the timing of the steering. Pull-push is hopeless until you cure this, which I think is one reason so many people give up on it. Get them to steer earlier and much more slowly, (both adding and removing lock) then later they won't need to cross hands/let go of the wheel etc.
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Postby AnalogueAndy » Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:14 pm


zadocbrown wrote:I wonder if you just need to be patient? We're talking about someone quite inexperienced, and good steering takes a long while to develop for many people. Have you considered leaving more time than usual between runs? That would leave more time for practice and perhaps you could take on a more short term project concurrently..


You're right, some learn quicker than others, if I've come across as impatient I'm not :wink: , just keen to think about how we might improve his learning as he's made so little progress so far.

Interesting you suggest leaving more time between runs, I'd planned to do weekly runs but he specifically wanted to go out twice weekly (allied to his expectations mentioned above, he was expecting the 'course' to involve more directed learning than him practising on his own), after a discussion last week about the need for him to practice on his own between runs we agreed to leave it a week this time.

zadocbrown wrote:Do you really need to focus so much on the steering? Could you teach him something else while allowing steering to develop naturally? Is he too focussed on the physical aspect rather than tuning into the result? What roads are you using - can you take him somewhere where the road will do the coaching for you? Does he agree he has a problem, or is he not sensitive enough to notice?..


Difficult one! We agreed steering should be the focus but not the sole thing, hence I've been trying to get him to "look up the road" as well (develop his obs). Re the roads, as I mentioned above he has a problem reacting to the movement of other road users so I've deliberately picked quiet 'easy' roads and interspersed those with empty ones! (Car parks with cones and the local park 'loop').

zadocbrown wrote:For this kind of problem I studiously avoid talking about pull-push at first. Crossed hands is often only a symptom of the real problem which is the timing of the steering. Pull-push is hopeless until you cure this, which I think is one reason so many people give up on it. Get them to steer earlier and much more slowly, (both adding and removing lock) then later they won't need to cross hands/let go of the wheel etc.


As I said timing (and smoothness) is an issue, for the first couple of runs I did exactly what you suggest, didn't make him pull-push but tried to address 'when' and 'smoothness' rather than slavishly make him pull-push. The car park work has also involved very slow moving and slow steering, both lots of it (full lock to full lock) and slalom (including between the cones).

Thanks for the advice, I'll stick with the same approach this week then, but perhaps lower my expectations and hope for some progress and let you know how we get on!

Regards

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