What Do You Need Us For?

What Do You Need Us For?

Parents sometimes ask,  “If there are all these tools and I have to practice with my teenager, what do I need you for?”   The simple answer is: “We’ve done the research, we’ve developed the process and while you know how to drive, and you need to practice with your teenager, you probably are not equipped to teach them the necessary skills.”   Can you teach them enough to pass the test at the MVD – probably, and if that is your objective, then that is what you should do.   If you are looking to develop true competency, then you need us.   In the inquiry stage when our Enrollment Counselor provides information to prospective customers they often are surprised about the amount of practice driving we recommend.  From the very beginning of an interaction with us we work very hard to be very transparent about what we do, why we do what we do and how this process works.    We don’t “require”  100 hours of practice because honestly, we can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do.  The State of Arizona does require 30 hours of driving practice, but we don’t believe that is enough based on our expertise from years of our own research as well as what the research and standards recommend.  Our tuition is higher than our competitors, so sometimes parents assume they are paying us to do “all of the work.”   It just doesn’t work that way IF the goal is to develop a competent driver.  THAT is what sets us apart from minimum standards and every other driver training program or school.  We don’t teach to a simple test.  We teach to develop competency and our evaluation is designed to assess competency, not simple driving maneuvers focused solely on vehicle handling.   You pay us for our multi-faceted expertise and the process we facilitate you through, throughout the duration of a program.  We don’t treat this as an event or series of events, it is a process that takes time and the amount of time is different for every student.

We have years of experience in the discipline of learning and while we are known for the use of simulation technology in our programs, our expertise in learning methodologies is also what makes us the best at what we do.  The simulation technology is a powerful tool we use to facilitate a student’s learning of the rules of the road and the basics of driving through experiential learning.  Our defensive driving addresses far more complex situations.   We also know how the human brain works, the difference between an adolescent brain and an adult brain, and how much our brains can absorb.  We know that every student is different and how to adjust the way we teach to meet the needs of each student.   Whether a teenager or an adult, most of us learn through hands-on, kinesthetic learning.  This is particularly true for males,  but also females and there is research on how genders learn.  More to come on this topic in a subsequent article.

Some argue, our competitors for one, that students are getting hands-on learning on the road.  The question you might ask is:  “Isn’t that better than virtual training on a simulator?”   The answer is emphatically “no.”  Why?  There are several reasons.  First and foremost, a student can’t make significant mistakes on the road and learn from it.  They can and do learn from their mistakes on a simulator.  We all know that being able to experience a situation is far  better than being told about it.   The training standards in the United States call for 30 to 90 hours of classroom with approximately 6 to 10 hours of on-road instructional lessons.  Each state has different practice driving hours requirements.  That means students are in classrooms hearing lectures, watching videos and seeing power point presentations with some classroom discussion.  DrivingMBA fulfills classroom requirements through the use of the simulation labs.  Students learn by doing in a safe and controlled environment and the instructor is free to let the student make mistakes, replay them and help them learn from their mistake.

Some high schools do use simulators, unfortunately, many are still using old technology with a big screen in front of the room and students behind a contraption with a steering wheel.  Nothing a student does behind the wheel has any impact on what happens on the screen.  Those are not fully interactive simulators.  They do, however, serve the purpose of developing initial awareness for students.  Some classrooms are equipped with interactive desk top simulators and in these classrooms the students only interact with the simulator, the teacher acts as a proctor for the class.  There is some benefit here as well as students begin to develop awareness and understanding, however, true skill building is less likely.   DrivingMBA’s instructional model utilizes the simulator as a tool in the learning process.  The instructor’s role is to teach and to facilitate a student’s learning, to ensure they are in fact learning  and building skill before they ever get on the road.  The Driving Fundamentals simulators are fully interactive and were specifically designed for DrivingMBA by the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator group.  In our labs the instructor’s full focus is on the student(s).  Their attention is not split between “watching the road” and the student.  When students are on the road, an instructor MUST split their attention  in order to keep everyone safe.  In our defensive driving lab, students push the envelope,  they learn how quickly a situation can become dangerous, they crash and they learn the importance of focus on the road and develop skills to avoid those situations.

Our job is to educate and train not only your child, but the parent and/or guardian as the practice coach.  We work with you to put a competent, safe and responsible driver on the road.  Over the past 16 years we have developed an exceptional training process and we have expertise in working with typical as well as exceptional learners.  We are not just the school for exceptional learner or special needs students.  We are the school for developing competency in driving.  We have noticed recently that some parents are choosing to send their typical students to other driving schools and are bringing their exceptional learner to DrivingMBA.   We believe some of this is driven by convenience since we don’t pick up and drop off at your home or at school.   Parents are also under the impression that their “typical child doesn’t need all this.”  I would argue that EVERY NOVICE DRIVER “needs all this.”

We have also noticed that some parents are doing simulation labs with DrivingMBA and on-road with other schools.  DrivingMBA’s programs are integrated and build upon each other.  I can assure you that other schools do not have the same teaching methodologies, curriculum or objectives.  In some cases you may have the convenience of pick up and drop off at home, but you may also be paying for someone to drive around with your student vs. continually emphasizing the methods and techniques that were introduced in the simulation lab and we continue to develop on-road.

We have you drop off and pick up at our office for two reasons:

  1. When you pick up your student we debrief with you and your student because that is an important part of the instructional process. Many times when students are picked up and dropped off at home, parents are not home, therefore there is little to no interaction with parents.
  2. We have specific routes designed to work through the curriculum and objectives for on-road instruction. We don’t just drive around with your teenager.  Instructors are constantly evaluating and instructing throughout the lesson and debriefing allows us to communicate where your student is in the process and what you and they need to work on between lessons.

Some students do have some innate abilities, but that doesn’t mean that they are good drivers.  They are still a novice driver.   Safe driving is a complex mental process that requires more than vehicle handling skills.  Sometimes parents are lulled into thinking that their teen is a good driver because they have good vehicle handling skills or they are performing particularly well doing the same drive over and over again.  Vehicle handling is a single component of the driving process.  There is so much more for them to learn and experience before they become a competent solo licensed driver.

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