Supervisory driver tips

This page will help you out if you need some extra tips and more of an in-depth breakdown of driving skills to help with supervising a learner. This is in addition to advice provided within the learner logbook.

There will be some extra tips and suggestions on:

  • planning what tasks to focus on in driving sessions
  • planning how your learner will practice these tasks
  • what to communicate to your learner.

These extra tips cover all those little things you may not think about if you do not drive often, you find it difficult to break down driving skills that are automatic to you or you just don’t know where to start as a supervisory driver.

The first stage is all about getting your learner confident with basic car control skills. The following skills are a good starting point.

Moving forwards and backwards

  • give your learner some more practice moving the car to a specific spot and braking
  • ask your learner to focus on a point in front of (or behind) them and drive towards it
  • get your learner to move from a parked position at the side of the road into traffic
  • once they’ve driven for a while, get them to pull over to the kerb
  • remind your learner to indicate and check their mirrors and blind spots before pulling out from or in to the kerb.

Turning at intersections

  • teaches your learner how to enter an intersection to turn left or right
  • get them to try turning left first, as there’s less traffic to give way to
  • when they’re comfortable turning left, try right hand turns
  • get your learner to turn at T-intersections as well, to make sure they understand the different give way rules
  • remind your learner to slow down when approaching any intersection, and be prepared to stop.

Entering traffic

  • get your learner to turn out of a driveway or carpark into the street
  • remind your learner that they must abide by any traffic signs or lines applying to the road they are entering.


  • your learner needs to get a feel for turning the car and changing its direction
  • find a spot like a large car park and ask your learner to practise turning left and right
  • to improve your learner’s steering you could place boxes or obstacles, set wide apart, and ask them to drive around them.

Reversing into a driveway

  • gives your learner practice changing the car’s direction when it’s in reverse
  • get them to try reversing and turning in a big area like a carpark before they try reversing into a driveway
  • try to choose wide driveways so they have some room for error.

In stage two your learner will have developed more confidence with their car control skills. You can begin to plan longer driving sessions in locations with increased traffic and different conditions. The following skills should be practiced in this stage.

Turning at a slip lane

When your learner is turning at a slip lane, make sure they:

  • give way to all traffic and obey any traffic light arrows that apply to the slip lane
  • try to pick a suitable gap to turn – they shouldn’t hold up traffic behind them for too long.

Changing lanes

  • gives your learner practice changing lanes on roads where there are two lanes of traffic flowing in the same direction
  • make sure your learner gets into the habit of checking their blind spot and using their mirrors before attempting to change lanes
  • don’t forget your learner must indicate before changing lanes.

Hill starts

  • teach your learner how to move off from a stationary position on a hill
  • show them how to do a hill start first, and explain how to coordinate the clutch, accelerator and handbrake
  • they’ll be busy using the car’s controls, but it’s very important that they keep a lookout for vehicles and pedestrians before entering traffic
  • when they can confidently do this task, they should practice doing it where there is more traffic.

In this stage your learner will begin to drive in more complex situations: at night, in a combination of different driving conditions and in situations where they will develop their skills in assessing risks and making decisions. The following skills and conditions are important to focus on during your driving sessions in this stage.

Merging lanes

  • gives your learner practice merging with another lane of traffic
  • when 2 lanes merge (so there are no line markings at the end of the lane) the car ahead has the right of way
  • remind your learner to check their blind spots and mirrors before
  • merging, so they know where the other cars are.


When driving in different road and weather conditions, your learner will need to be able to respond to changes in their driving environment.

Make sure your learner:

  • scans on and around the road for things that could become a hazard (blind intersections, pedestrians, cyclists, cars blocking their view)
  • positions their car so they can see as well as possible (dropping back from large vehicles so they can see more of the road ahead and approaching corners so they can see as far around the corner as possible)
  • matches their speed to their seeing distance, especially when approaching blind intersections and curves, hills or cars parked on the side of the road
  • moves their car on the road to keep away from things that may be dangerous (moving the car to the left when coming to the crest of a hill or moving towards the centre of the road when coming to a parked car)
  • adjusts their driving in good time when other people do something that may be unsafe
  • immediately corrects their driving if they make a mistake or find themselves in an unsafe situation.

Unsealed roads

Remind your learner:

  • to drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions
  • not to suddenly change direction or stop – this may cause the car to skid. They need to drive smoothly and slow down so they feel more comfortable.

Different weather conditions

Before driving on wet or frosty roads remind your learner that they need to:

  • drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions
  • try to drive on the driest part of the road
  • brake and accelerate gently and steadily
  • double their following distance
  • use the windscreen wipers if necessary
  • turn the headlights on if necessary (like in dull light conditions, wet weather).

Dusk/dawn driving

  • at sunrise or sunset, the sun can “blind” your learner, show them how to use the visor to help block out the sun
  • animals are most active at dawn and dusk, so explain to your learner that they must also scan to the sides of the road and be prepared to stop.

Country driving

When driving in country areas, explain to your learner that:

  • there are less clues and warnings (like signs and road markings) about what to do when driving than there are in the city
  • they’ll need to make different decisions to the ones they make on city roads, such as choosing a speed that suits the road surface and width, the tightness of corners of the steepness of hills
  • they will often drive for a long time without seeing any intersections or other traffic, but they must still be alert and watch for hazards.

Urban driving

When driving in urban areas, explain to your learner that they need to:

  • relax and keep a comfortable speed
  • always scan on and around the road, and use their mirrors to scan behind them
  • maintain a safe following distance
  • fit in with other traffic.

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