Learning to Driving Manual Cars

Preparing For Manual Driving Tests

Manual Driving Lessons
ADTA

Parent and Student Information

Read our information on this page about Manual Lessons

For more Information on Manual Driving lessons and RMS Driving Tests please contact Geoff on 0426446955
Do remember we can’t take phone calls from you when we are on driving lessons.
Please leave a message on voicemail, maybe send a text or use the online enquiry form.


Want to learn how to drive a manual car?

Not everyone wants to learn how to drive a manual car these days so if you are just starting out learn properly.
For those with very little or no experience, it is important to learn the “correct” way to drive a manual car from the beginning.

Penrith Driving School instructor Geoff only teaches the correct way to drive a manual car.
You should be interested in listening, learning and understanding what is required to become a good manual car driver.
Part of that learning is up to you to learn the road rules, read your log book if on one, start reading the guide to the driving test.
Just because you passed your DKT test (Drivers Knowledge Test) doesn’t mean you know the road rules.

You probably don’t know all the road rules so have read of the “Road Users Handbook”.
When you do get out on the road you need to apply the “road rules” but if you don’t know them that makes it a bit hard.
Driving is just like a school subject (if at school) you need to study and learn not just get in a car and drive.
If you don’t understand how your car works then learn, cars are dangerous when not controlled properly.

Learning the Process of Driving

Learning how to drive a manual car is a process that is built up by understanding smaller processes.
In the manual car, there are 5 main control items: Steering Wheel, Accelerator Pedal, Brake Pedal, Clutch Pedal, Gear Shifter.
Other items can be accessory items that are operated but do not to control the car when driving.
A manual car is a “thinking persons” car and requires skill, coordination to be able to multi-task.

You need to learn how to listen to the car and how to feel the car is responding. This does not happen overnight and takes time to develop an understanding. Learning how combining the 5 control items allows a driver to control their car.
There is a 6th main item that is also required and you cannot drive the car without it. All driving is based on your vision.

First Manual Driving Lessons

As a new driver when you attend your first lesson with us it may not be out on the road. More than likely it will be in a car park or a larger area. We can’t take drivers out onto the roads that are new to driving and don’t understand how to drive a manual car.
We need to ensure your safety, our safety and that of the other road users. Inexperienced drivers can struggle to coordinate their vehicle controls. Part of learning to drive requires a term called  “Muscle Memory”.

Muscle Memory can only be learnt over time by continual repetitious actions that allow the brain to control the body movements. Learning how to automate your actions without having to think takes time.
Controlling your hand, arm and leg coordination to work together without thinking about what you’re doing. When you learn to this you will start to control a manual car more fluently.

Lesson Enquiries

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Repetitious Practicing is Essential

The only way you get good at anything is by learning and this takes time and plenty of quality practice. Comparing other things such as “golf” for example do you think the Tigers Woods or the Adam Scotts practiced?. Do you think racing car drivers just get in a car and become racing car drivers?. Do you think you can just get into a car and drive? you have to practice regularly. Training your body to respond and control the movements only comes with practice, practice and more practice.

Vehicle Control

Any new learner needs to show us as instructors they know the “road rules” and they can control a car out on the road. Some people do learn quicker than others so will progress faster in learning more difficult and complex driving. However you cannot learn muscle memory in a short period, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk before you can run. We teach people how to drive the correct and proper way that meets and exceeds the RMS standards or requirements.

Expectations

People seem to think that a few lessons will teach a new driver how to drive a manual car. Well, that might ok if you intend to drive in the paddock. If that’s your expectation sit in the back of a car with a new driver learning manual and find out the truth. People who do not have the ability to control their body movements instantaneously and respond based on vision struggle to drive.

When you don’t learn properly meeting the RMS driving test requirements can be a struggle. Being taught incorrectly from the beginning can form bad habits and a bad driving style which at times is unsafe. If learning to drive a manual car properly is important then take learning to drive seriously and learn properly. There is more to driving a manual car than just changing gears without having any real idea of what you’re doing.

Are you getting ready for your Manual Driving Test?

The manual driving test is more complex than the automatic driving test as there are more control items. (Brake, Clutch, Accelerator, Shifter, Steering). Students can struggle with the vehicle control areas by not properly coordinating the vehicle controls to effectively control the car.

If you can control the car properly and understand the friction point properly then you should be able to drive any manual vehicle. Using a different car is not an excuse for not being able to drive a properly. It is usually because of not enough practice in more difficult situations. It’s easier to drive up and down straight roads but that’s not where you will be tested on a driving test.

Vehicle Control and Understanding your Car

You should be able to shift gears correctly, know what gear you’re in by the way car responds. Use the brake, clutch, shifter and steer the car together. Being able to steer a car correctly and at times accelerate and shift gears whilst steering or turning. Students should have a solid ability and understanding these skills. Downshifting correctly by understanding rev matching is another area where students struggle.

You should have good vehicle control and be able to respond to hazards and reduce reaction times which can be affected. Not controlling a car properly can lead to loss of vehicle control and contribute to bad decision making. If you do not understand how to feel a car or listen to the car when driving a manual car then you need more practice. Have a read below further down the page and think about if you know the answers or maybe are doing some of those things, do you know what they mean?

Preparing for the RMS Driving Test

Students should be able to drive a car “independently” which is required by the RMS assessors. This is general information for those who qualify and are about to undertake a driving test. Having solid vehicle control, understanding of the road rules, line markings and be able to understand complex traffic situations. Be confident about making decisions and have a strong road awareness.
You should also understand what a “Hazard” is and how to respond to a hazard correctly.

Instructor Intervention

People getting ready to undertake the RMS driving test should be able to drive a car without any help. Students tested by us in “pre-testing” lessons struggle to drive a car independently when put under pressure. Most don’t know the road rules or the RMS requirements as they haven’t prepared properly. A few lessons may help to sharpen up a persons driving. If we are helping you to drive during lessons you may fail the driving test.

Have you learnt how to “Drive Properly” in a Manual Car?

You come to us to learn and we access how you drive with us during a lesson. If you struggle to drive properly to meet the RMS Testing requirements that’s not our fault. If you don’t know what “clutch coasting” is or “engine labouring” is you haven’t learnt properly.  If you don’t know how to control a car at low speed or transition from 2nd gear to 1st gear at low speed then you haven’t learnt properly. If you do not know how to steer a car effectively and shift while steering (without losing control) you haven’t learnt properly. These are basic manual learning requirements but are usually neglected so controlling the car becomes difficult.

Use your Vision

All your driving is based on your vision. You must use your vision you to make control adjustments using the brakes, clutch, shifter, steering, accelerator. You also have to make decisions based on your vision. If you have to think about what you have to do when driving you need more experience. You have to look, decide and respond. Gears only need to be changed when a speed adjustment is required. You don’t change gears because they are there. In a manual car, you don’t come to a stop if you don’t need to, you have to “flow” the car.

Unfortunately, nearly all students that do manual driving lessons with us prior to their driving test struggle to drive a car properly. Sometimes it is because they weren’t aware of RMS requirements (they were never taught) and they don’t know the road rules. At other times it is a combination of inexperience which can also include not driving and controlling a car properly. We don’t lie to our students but we will inform them and explain to them what you need to do to improve.

You Came to Us

You came to us to access your driving we only tell you what we see when you drive on the lesson. If your driving needs improving we will tell you, isn’t that why you came to us? If you don’t want to learn your driving needs to improve and be shown the RMS testing requirements get over it and learn what you need to. Driving is dangerous. Unfortunately, we have to be negative at times as for some reason students can blame us for their inability to drive properly. We didn’t teach you how to drive so if you struggle to drive correctly why is that our fault? We only tell you the truth. If you only learn half of what you should be learning then you can struggle to meet RMS testing requirements.

Get Prepared

Students are given instructions to turn left, turn right, do a manoeuvre etc by following instructions without help. During a driving test, any intervention by the RMS assessor will result in a fail item marked as F6 on the test sheet. This means the student was not able to drive independently and required help. By having some driving lessons before your driving test can improve the areas of driving.
It may also give you the confidence and improve some skills. Driving only starts after you get your licence so be prepared for independent driving early.

Too Much “Nanny Driving”

Those students or people going for a driving test should be able to drive by themselves. (that means independently without assistance). Know and understand the road rules and be prepared to deal with situations that may arise. You cannot control the traffic conditions or other idiots on the road. We should not have to explain to you who has to give way in certain situations. You should be able to know what to do when faced with a hazard.

If you have not been driving in complex driving situations and do not know how to respond to hazards you need to learn. Learn the road rules get more practice and learn the requirements of the driving test. You do understand that people die on the roads every day so being able to drive properly is obviously very important.

How Difficult?

Too many students and drivers struggle with roundabouts, single lane and twin lane, left turns anytime with care, merging with traffic. Lane changing in busy traffic, responding to hazards and even knowing what a stop means. (No people do not stop at stop signs properly). It’s just easier to drive up and down a straight road than to be taken out of their comfort zones and actually learn to drive properly.

If you have use cotton wool buds or treat learner drivers like eggshells then they should be gaining more experience. Learn in situations where they don’t feel comfortable. Inexperience is a leading factor in accidents because people fail to learn to drive properly. Driving a car is not a game so if you neglect to teach learners properly this will lead to drivers with lower confidence. Without having solid driving skills and be confident you will increase the risks of driving.

The Driving Test

When a student attends a driving test the RMS assessors do not help a student to drive they only give directional instructions. Students are also asked to do the required manoeuvres assuming they know how. Their expectation is the student is able to drive the car to the RMS criteria in order to pass the driving test. If a student does not know the road rules or the driving test requirements then this can result in failing the driving test.

The extract below is taken from the “Guide to the Driving Test” page 30
6. ACTION REQUIRING TESTING OFFICER INTERVENTION
At this stage of your driving experience, you should be able to drive without any help. If the testing officer has to give you verbal or physical assistance, including using the dual controls in an instructor’s vehicle, you will fail.

RMS Testing Routes

The RMS has identified various driving test routes throughout the Penrith areas. These may include various types of intersections, roundabouts, stop signs, give way signs, traffic lights. It will also include multi-laned roads, understanding of various road markings, signage. Hills, bends, curves and various types of turns and various decision-making requirements are also included. They also include various manoeuvres which a student must be able to do and all form part of the driving test. The purpose of these particular areas is to test a student’s independent driving ability without assistance from a supervisor.

Roads, Signs, Line Markings can all be seen

Driving around these types of areas should be relatively easy for a student who is confident and has good vehicle control. Having good road awareness is essential and understanding of road rules. Students will struggle if they do not have enough experience and knowledge. They may require more practice or lessons to drive independently. If you know your road rules and understand what you have to do when driving you should be able to drive in all areas and on all roads without a problem.

Common Misconception

A common misconception is that parents and students can think passing a driving test means you know how to drive. Some students are definitely much better drivers than others. Students that have more driving skills, vehicle control ability and more road awareness are better drivers. These students usually pass because they are better more confident drivers.

In our view, the RMS driving test is not a proper test of skill and ability as it is a variable test. A driving test cannot be replicated on a consistent basis. The driving conditions can change from minute to minute and hour to hour. Therefore there is no constancy of testing when students attempt the driving test. So basically not a level playing field for students. Some will have an easier driving test and for others, the driving test will be harder.

Variables of the Test 

A driving test during school zone hours is different from a driving test outside school zone hours. Various decision-making aspects can be different. Contending with a busy roundabout is different from contending with no cars at a roundabout. Blind intersections that may block your vision are different to intersections where your view is not blocked.

Peak hour busy traffic is different from quieter periods with no traffic are just some examples. Some students pass only passed because they may not have been challenged with harder decisions or more complex traffic situations. A similar student with the same ability will fail when faced with more difficult situations.

Learning Experiences

Another reason is the learning experiences or driving lessons may not have been broad enough or wide enough. Driving areas should include complex traffic situations or driving conditions that require continual thinking and road awareness. Situations requiring students to make steering, braking and road positioning adjustments using the correct driving techniques. Students and drivers need to learn how to always be prepared for the unexpected situations.

Having skills, ability and learning driving techniques will help in responding to the situation. Being able to control the vehicle properly when faced with different driving requirements or challenges only comes with having skills. Most students or drivers we see can struggle when they have been taken out of their comfort zones. As previously mentioned “nanny driving” does not teach the proper driving skills needed to become a better driver. Even a basic manoeuvre can be difficult like performing a simple kerbside stop to meet the RMS driving criteria.

Road Rules

Another main area that students and drivers struggle are with the road rules, signage and understanding the line markings. This should be included when learning as a part of driving lessons. This forms part of the requirements for getting a licence. Consequently, misinterpretations, hesitating, unsafe decisions tells us as the instructors they aren’t quite ready to drive by themselves. It is important when teaching driving lessons to have continual repetition but not on the same roads or in the same areas.

By continually varying the driving conditions expands the driving knowledge and experiences of the driver which builds more confidence and driving ability. This results in students and drivers that pass the driving test because they are better and safer drivers.

Not Enough Driving Hours

In most cases, learners are trying to learn how to drive in 12 months or 120 hours with less than 2 hours of practice a week. Inexperience is a leading factor in a lot of accidents so the more driving hours the better. How a parent or supervisor drives a car will be different from how a student or learner will drive a car. Learners may not understand or be able to comprehend your experience and knowledge. Your knowledge and experience are gained over many years of constant driving. 

More Practical Driving Hours Means More Experience 

Some students may start out doing 10 instructed driving lessons at the beginning of their driving. These can equate to 30 log book hours but are really only 10 hours of practical driving if that. Some may only end up with 5 hours of practical driving experience depending on the driving school they use. After 50 standard driving hours (according to the logbook) students then go and do “a safer driver course”. This gets them another 20 hours but in fact may only be 30 mins of practical driving.

Only 2 Weeks to Get a Licence

To sum it all up in most cases, some students may have only achieved about 80 hours of actual practical driving. This is assuming the log books are correct. Students may only get about 1.5 hours of practice per week. Nowhere near enough. Overall about 80 hours of practical driving equals 2 working weeks worth of driving to get a licence. 2 weeks of driving to learn all about driving. No wonder new drivers struggle to drive properly. Is that really enough driving experience considering the traffic on the roads these days?
When you cheat you only cheat yourself.

Learn Properly

Passing the driving test is just the beginning of driving. All the previous driving of a learner has been with parents or supervisors so driving independently by themselves is a new experience. If you are skilled, confident and have good road awareness you can reduce the risks associated with driving. Remember there are so many idiot drivers on the roads so you need to better than them.

Quality Driving Lessons

Penrith Driving School only teaches quality driving lessons to our students and customers. If you want time wasting there’s plenty of other driving schools happy to do that. Some instructors will also take phone calls and make bookings during a lesson, is that what you are paying for?. Not everyone wants to learn properly which is unfortunate mainly because they just want to pass the driving test today. They will worry about tomorrow when it comes, but tomorrow might not come if you don’t get through today.

With all the idiots on the roads, the more experience and knowledge you have could just be the difference in you becoming a statistic.

Geoff,
Senior Instructor
Penrith Driving School
For the correct advice by experienced instructors contact us for further information.

 

Do you know how to feel and listen to understand a manual car?

Does the gearbox thump when changing gears?
Is the car labouring when changing gears?
Do I drive too fast?
Do I know how to stop the car correctly?
Is the car rolling back when trying to move off?
How do I do a hill start?
Does the car over rev when shifting?
What is the friction point?
Is my acceleration controlled?
Do I harshly brake/jolt the car when braking?

Do I shift correctly at the right speeds
What is clutch coasting?
When do I shift while steering?
Do I oversteer/understeer?
Can I read the traffic?
Can I anticipate traffic?
What do to gears relate to?
Do I understand vehicle dynamics?
Can I control the car for manoeuvres?
Does the car jolt when I downshift?

Does the car stall too much?
Can I respond to hazards the correct way?
Should I look at my shifter?
Do I miss gears? (wrong selection)
Am I shifting too fast?
Do I over rev the car?
What is holding the clutch back?
Can I control the friction point?
Do I stop the car for the wrong reasons?
Am I shifting down at the right speeds?

Know what you need to be doing

You should know the answers and understand some or all of any of the above if not you may need more practice. We would expect students getting ready for their driving test to have good vehicle control and understanding of driving.
Students are frequently unable to answer, explain or apply correct driving techniques and this comes back to inexperience and not enough practice.

Generally, the people teaching someone how to drive are teaching based on their own ability. To be fair some parents and supervisors actually do a very good job overall. You should also be teaching the RMS driving test requirements.
They may also not be aware of what was required in the learner’s log book. This is then not taught to a student. 

Previous Instructors

We regularly have students that have had numerous manual driving lessons with other driving schools.
They go for their driving tests and continually struggle to pass. When they come to us and we start to access what they might be doing wrong. It is disappointing that the student was not aware of the RMS criteria needed to pass a driving test which is what they should have been learning.

This should have been learned in previous driving lessons before the driving test but if the “driving instructor” does not know what to teach then the student does not learn.

Supervisors and Parents

Students, parents, and supervisors should remember it doesn’t a mean a person “can’t” drive a car at all.
You must be able to drive to or better than RMS standard to pass a driving test. This is a minimum standard and from what we see its generally not to a safe standard as they haven’t been taught properly.
It’s all about the practice, practice and more practice.

Driving a manual vehicle incorrectly can result in damage to the car (especially the gearbox and clutch, diffs and CVs) and loss of vehicle control.
You need to listen to and feel the vehicle when driving so if you don’t understand the car then how can you drive it properly?
Too many people seem to think a gearbox is for slowing the car down from a higher speed. Gearboxes do not slow cars down, cars do have brakes. When brakes are used effectively shifting gears is much easier.

 All too often when students come to us when getting near their driving test we continually see all these problems occurring. (plus other areas of driving) These areas can affect your driving ability because students don’t have enough experience or understanding of how to drive a manual vehicle properly and how a car even works.

Improvement by More Practice

We can only give our opinion to the student or parent based on how a student drives during a driving lesson. If students are struggling then they need to improve by practicing what they are being taught during driving lessons. It’s not us as the instructors driving the car, we can only convey what you need to be doing.
We use the “Guide to the Driving Test + RMS Assessors Manual + RUH: Road Users Handbook, Leaners Log Book”.
Learners need to know the references and to meet the RMS requirements.

You should learn the RMS driving test criteria and driving rules. 
Sometimes students don’t want to learn the proper requirements or learn how to drive a manual properly but that’s is up to you.
Problems can be fixed but sometimes it takes more than a few lessons and more practice by the student.

Our Opinion

Being a parent or supervisor and teaching someone how to drive should not be based on just the way you might drive. Some supervisors don’t know the road rules or the RMS requirement so the student doesn’t learn them.
What are you basing your teachings on? is it your own experience and knowledge?.
If it’s based on your own experience and knowledge of how you drive you also need to add the RMS driving criteria.

This includes knowing the road rules and applying them when you drive if not then how can somebody learn properly?
Students should be listening to what we are saying to them about their driving but some think they still know more than us as the instructors. When you go to school (if still at school) do you listen to the teachers or just disregard what you are being taught. Generally, if you do you will probably fail your subject.

Be Aware of Cheap Driving Lessons

In recent times it has become more apparent to us that an influx of so-called “Driving Schools”. They seem to be providing a lesser quality of driving lesson to students. The parents of students that may have purchased these cheap driving lessons.

From the feedback, we have been receiving from our students and the parents of some of these students. It is obvious to us that some of these driving schools are more about time wasting and selling low-quality lessons.
By doing more non-informative time wasting cheap driving lessons these driving schools aim to make more money. Unfortunately, the parents and students are losing out by ending up having to pay more money in the long run. They thought the “enticement” of buying “cheap” driving lessons could save them some money.

Not Teaching the RMS Criteria

Some of these driving schools and their instructors are not meeting the required RMS teaching criteria as they don’t seem to be following the requirements of the RMS.
We always hear from students “I wasn’t told that” or I wasn’t shown that” “I wasn’t aware of that”  “I didn’t know that”. So what are these instructors and driving schools teaching?
It is certainly not what they should teaching be from our conclusion.

20 Learning Goals

The RMS has 20 “structured lesson plans” which coincides with the 20 “learning goals” that are in the learner’s log book. This is what driving instructors are required to teach. We see lessons being recorded in students log books as number “35” or number “57”.
None of those numbers corresponds to the “20” learning goals required by the RMS and we have no idea what a student has been taught. The student doesn’t remember which then takes longer for us to further access what they do know.

Lack of Knowledge

We continue to be dumbfounded when these students come to us and the student’s knowledge and ability are way below what you would expect. If a student has already had numerous instructed driving lessons they should have some knowledge and understanding of the RMS requirements.
Not all “20” structured lessons would be taught at once. They would be subject to how many lessons are purchased. Each structured lesson/s number should be recorded each time a driving lesson is conducted by a driving instructor.

Recording in Log Books

Some of these requirements are to record structured lessons in logbooks, keep student information sheets, provide structured lessons that meet the RMS requirements.
We have students telling us that they have had sometimes from 3 to 15 lessons with another instructor/driving school.
There is no evidence of this recorded in the student logbooks along with no instructors licence number or what type of structured lesson has been taught to the student.

The students and parents also tell us that they paid cash and there was no receipt provided which seems to be pretty common for the avoidance of tax and GST. Some without ABN numbers.
Some of these driving schools also seem to be using cars with very low ANCAP safety ratings (or our view “aluminium cans on wheels”) or cars that have seen better days which can put students at risk should there be an incident or an accident.

Using your Own Vehicle

Driving Lessons can be conducted in personal cars on request.
Cars must be roadworthy and have vehicle insurance.
If a car is not roadworthy the lesson must be conducted in the Penrith Driving School car. If the student or customer does not want to that lesson in the Penrith Driving School car the lesson will be cancelled and the lesson fee will still be charged.

We do not do lessons in cars that have no insurance or are not roadworthy. Should it come apparent during lessons the personal car is not roadworthy. If it is deemed to be unsafe the lesson may be terminated and or transferred to the Penrith Driving School car.

Our instructors will not be held liable for any damage that may occur in personal cars during a driving lesson caused by the student.
Students or customers will be asked to sign a waiver of liability prior to any driving lesson conducted in a personal car.
Penrith Driving School cars are fully insured and cover students for any damage that may occur during a driving lesson.

Know what you are Buying

Don’t take driving lessons for granted be sure about who is teaching you and what you are actually going to get as cheap driving lessons with dodgy driving instructors will just end up costing you more money in the long run.

Penrith Driving School only does the best quality informative driving lessons that can increase students driving skills and knowledge. We are not here to nanny drive students so be prepared to learn, take the time to practice properly not just get in a car and drive. Learning to drive is a subject so treat it as a subject and study your learning requirements such as the road rules.

Read the learner’s log book and read the guide to the driving test. If you don’t know the licencing requirements then how can you apply the road rules when your driving?

Penrith Driving School also carries a copy of the “20” structured lesson plans as required by the RMS along with a 200-page breakdown of the those “20” structured lessons that meet the RMS requirements.
We also carry our insurance policies and driving instructors licences which can also be viewed.