Imagine yourself on a long road trip with a friend. Your friend is driving and not doing a very good job of maintaining a 65 mph driving speed. One moment your friend is speeding along at 70 mph. A minute or two later, he has slowed to 60 mph. While your friend’s driving is averaging out to 65 mph, you are beginning to feel a little carsick as a result of the speed changes. The road trip you had looked forward to for so long is quickly turning into a nightmare.
Now, picture yourself teaching your teenager to drive and the same up and down speed problem is taking place. It is now important for you to fix this problem before it becomes a habit for your young driver.
The speed fluctuations are likely caused by the driver looking at the speedometer and ignoring the feel of the acceleration and deceleration of the vehicle. For example, if your teenage driver accelerates to 40 mph and suddenly removes his foot from the gas as soon as he sees the speedometer reach the desired speed, the car will continue to accelerate past 40 mph and the driver will soon be moving faster than the speed limit. There is now a need to adjust the speed of the car to comply with the law.
The same thing will happen when the driver holds the break until 40 mph shows on the speedometer once again. Except for this time, the car will decelerate below the desired speed. The driver mistakenly believes he or she can control the exact speed of the vehicle by watching the needle of the speedometer and making adjustments.
There is a simple technique to break the young driver of the habit of eyeing the speedometer. You should cover the speedometer in a way that allows you to keep an eye on the registered speed but not the young driver. You will in effect become a human speedometer for your student who is now forced to pay attention to the feel of the car to maintain a constant speed.
Some drivers are able to master the art of “feeling” the speed of the car within an hour or two. For others, it will take a little longer to get in sync with driving by the feel of the car. However, the connection will be made with the driver as long as you remember to be vocal regarding the speed.
This method is used by one driving teacher who says after a little practice he likes to cover the speedometer and tell his students to drive at a certain speed. The driving teacher says that about 90 percent of the time his students will drive within two mph of the selected speed. These students no longer possess a need to look at the speedometer to assess the speed of the car.
Once their feel and perception are developed and the student “knows” the speed of the traveling car, the speedometer will act as a secondary check of the car’s speed.