The purpose of this article is to make parents aware that not all driving schools are the same and that it is important to choose your school wisely and get involved in your child's driver education as much as possible. If Phillips Driving School reads this article and improves their education then that would be great too.
I acknowledge that Phillips Driving School has many instructors and each instructor tends to teach differently. However, many simple techniques or procedures should be universal no matter how many instructors work for a company. Please also understand that many things Ultra Safe teaches are not known by most instructors. Some of our techniques have taken years to develop through reflection and research. I must keep reminding myself that most instructors probably wouldn't mind teaching better, they just don't know how. I happen to know 2 of Phillips instructors and they are good people.
[UPDATE - September 27th, 2019 - We taught our second Phillips student and it didn't go well. Posted at the end of this article.]
I recently taught our first Phillips Driving School student. The parent was concerned that their student was "not getting it'. There was also a close call while the parent was instructing their student. [Ultra Safe requires a parent observation drive in which the parent receives many useful tips and strategies, as well as "How to Take Over Instructing Your Student" reading material - this greatly reduces the stress and close-calls after driver education.] Here is a quick evaluation. Please keep in mind that it is possible the instructor(s) who taught this student had good intentions but simply are not as advanced as I am. So it's best to give the instructor the benefit of the doubt.
1. Did not adjust side mirrors correctly and was not able to explain why he adjusted the mirrors the way he did.
2. Did not know how to evaluate where to stop. He simply stopped before entering the roadway and did not know the safety reason for where to stop. (hint: it's not necessarily at the stop sign or stop line)
3. Did not do the proper checks before doing a lane change. To make sure he simply didn't forget the checks, we had him explain the steps. He was not sure of the checks and what he was looking for.
4. Was never taught the lane change pre-check and how it can significantly reduce stress and the potential rear-end collision.
5. Was never taught how to ask directions for smoother lane changes and less stress.
6. Was never taught anything about lane position except to stay in the center lane position. This is a defensive driving tool we thoroughly explain. Like most of the things on this list, it is possible that the instructor just doesn't understand these concepts and therefore can't teach them.
7. Was never taught the major causes of wrecks and how they are related to each other. He was naturally taught about the dangers of impaired driving, distracted driving, and fatigued driving. This is covered exclusively in classes and the Idaho Drivers Manual. We cover the other major reasons for wrecks and discuss how you can eliminate these factors. For example, "Intimidation" is a major reason for many wrecks. Many people who are about to turn left or right onto a street make the fatal mistake of looking in their rear view mirror. Doing so can make you more likely to pull out when you shouldn't. Many students look in their rear view mirror because they were simply told to look in their rear view mirror all the time (some teach students to look in the mirror every 5 seconds - this can be a fatal technique).
8. Looked in his rear view mirror too much. Most people look in their rear view mirror too much. Unlike experienced drivers who look in the mirror for the cop, students tend to look in the rear view mirror too much simply because they were told to do so. Looking in your mirror at the proper time is an an extremely hard technique to master. Our students do not master the technique of when, specifically to look in the rear view mirror - but they are introduced to it and taught it repetitively. The Phillips student was not able to explain when it is optimal to look in the mirror. Learning the proper technique actually improves scanning ability and risk assessment.
9. Was not taught the legal or safety reason for why you must use turn signals in a round-a-bout.
10. Was not taught how Visibility is one of the major causes of wrecks and what they can do to help other drivers see them better (and also improving their ability to see other drivers). One of the techniques to help people see you better actually takes 1 second, and you only do it once per drive.
11. Was never taught the super important check to do when approaching a green light. So far we have not seen this technique taught in any book, manual, class, or video.
12. Was unaware of the dangers of driving next to another vehicle. The blind-spot, which he was taught by Phillips, is an important safety concern - but we are not talking about the blind-spot. We taught him the proper vehicle space management technique to reduce close calls, collisions, over-correcting and encourage escape-route scanning.
I think you get the picture. I encourage all students to take driver education. Even inefficient, assembly line, basic driver education is better than no driver education. But I hope you understand that not all driving schools are the same.
UPDATE - September 27th, 2019
A mom called me and requested an evaluation drive for her daughter. The young lady received her permit from Phillips 6 months prior. To summarize a long story we basically told the mom "your daughter should never have received her permit". The mom and student were very understanding. I signed the student up for my regular course. After 5 drives and nearly 7 hours of extra driving the mom was very pleased with her daughters progress. The problem with many instructors is they pass students who should be getting a few more hours of practice, in hopes that everything will smooth out while practicing with parents. This is wishful, optimist thinking but can easily end badly. Whomever taught the young lady should be ashamed of themselves for passing a student who was a danger to herself and others. But, this was only one instructor - Phillips has many instructors who probably do a much better job.