23: Core Competancies – Fault Identification

Warning – this unit was last revised in 2007

Unit 23: Core Competencies – Fault Identification

Research Material:
The Driving Instructor’s Handbook

Fault Identification is the first of the core competencies – the cure for driving faults. You need to know the fault before you can offer a cure.

“Faults – Identified
This covers the ability of the PDI to clearly identify all the important faults committed by the pupil that require correction as part of an effective instructional process. This ability is expected to cover all aspects of control of the car and procedure on the road at all times. The fault assessment need not be immediate if this would be inappropriate at the time, but it should be given at the first opportunity.” – From the examiner’s marking guidelines (ADI1).

Fault ID – What? – SEE IT!
This is the start of it all, but remember, 99% of all faults occur within the MSM/PSL routine, so if you are unsure what the fault is, but know one is occurring, then start at the beginning:

Mirrors – look at Eyes – remember there are only 2 things you can do in a car: change speed, and change direction. So before either of these, ensure mirrors are being used effectively – find out if they know what is behind or to the side, and how it could affect them.

Signal – look at Hands – decide whether their signalling is informative and of use to other road users, or is it unnecessary or timed incorrectly, and a cause of confusion to others

Position – look at Road – normal road position should be a doors width from any obstruction on the left where possible, kerb or parked vehicles. Where not possible (meeting situations for example) make sure that the speed has been dropped to cope with the lack of space. Through junctions and roundabouts be sure to point out any deviation from what you would consider the ideal line or lane choice.

Speed – look for Safe Distances – there’s a simple test for this, if you are nervous, it’s too quick; if you’re worried about the people behind it could be too slow. Included in this area is gear choice, and whether any coasting is happening, which means keeping an eye on feet. Ensure that speed limits are being adhered to, and that in safe areas they are achieved.

Look – look at Road and Eyes – The most important thing to be done. If a hazard isn’t seen, then it can’t be dealt with. Remember that even for experienced instructors, watching the road while watching where the student is looking can be hard, so until you are sure good observations are being carried out, keep the speed down and give yourself time to be sure of both the road and your customer. There is a really simple rule in this section- don’t get let anything happen that you are not 100% sure is safe.

Fault ID – SAY IT!
Here we need to state the fault simply and gain agreement about it. It is all too easy to jump straight to questions here like “do you know what the speed limit is here?” when what you actually need to say is “we’re doing 34 in this 30 zone”. This is especially important, when the problem is one which could cause a hazard.
Try to be as early as possible with this, unless saying it immediately is going to cause more trouble to yourselves or other road users. Nervous students may sometimes head for the brakes at the wrong moment, so use your judgement. If there is no way to sort the problem immediately, then tell your customer you will come back to it as soon as you are in a safe place. Stick to this though, because saying “do you remember that roundabout 15 minutes ago?” is likely to get a blank look!

Discussion Points:
Watching your customer and the road – extra eyes needed!
Spotting body movements and feeling the car
Drive through similar hazards more slowly if unsure
No questions – state the facts

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