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  • Writer's pictureSteve King

Fix the Feeling, Fix the Fault!

It is widely acknowledged in the field of psychology that every behaviour is driven by an underlying feeling, and every feeling is connected to a fundamental need.

Understanding this can be an absolute game-changer in the context of learner driver training. By focusing on meeting these underlying needs rather than merely correcting faults, we can address the root causes of issues, leading to a more effective and a more compassionate driver training.

Understanding that behaviours stem from our underlying feelings and needs offers a deeper insight into our actions.

For example, a learner driver who frequently makes abrupt lane changes might be exhibiting underlying feelings of anxious about space or insecurity about affecting other roads users. Similarly, a learner who hesitates at junctions could be experiencing feelings of fear or anxiety about how and when to go, driven by a need for clarity and confidence on the situation.

Traditionally, driver training focused on correcting visible behaviours through instruction and repetition. While sometimes effective, it doesn't always address the underlying issues. Building an understanding of the feelings and needs behind behaviours can make driver training more holistic and more effective.

Identifying Feelings and Needs is the first step is to help learner drivers identify the feelings and needs that influence their behaviour. Reflection, discussion, and supportive feedback, for instance, understanding that a learner's hesitation is linked to a fear of making mistakes can lead to tailored strategies to build their

When learners feel understood and supported, they are more likely to open up about their feelings and needs. Emphasising a safe space for our learners to express their emotions constructively can help reduce anxiety and promote a positive learning environment.

Once we identify the needs are, training can then focus on meeting these needs in healthier ways. For example, a learner driver who needs to feel safe can be taught defensive driving techniques that enhance their sense of security on the road. Incorporating mindfulness and stress management techniques into learner driver training can help new drivers manage their emotions effectively. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and cognitive-behavioral strategies can reduce stress and anxiety, leading to calmer and more confident driving behaviours.

In 2022, around a fifth of all killed or seriously injured ( KSI ) casualties from collisions involving cars were in collisions which involved a young car driver. Young male car drivers aged 17 to 24 are 4 times as likely to be killed or seriously injured compared with all car drivers aged 25 or over.

Learner drivers are more likely to adopt and maintain safer driving practices when their underlying needs are met. The Benefits of a Needs-Based approach and addressing the root causes of behaviours will hopefully help promote the sustainable change that is drastically needed with new and young drivers.

Focusing on feelings and needs can improve learner drivers’ overall emotional well-being, reducing stress and enhancing their quality of life.

When learner drivers are calmer, more mindful, and their needs are met, the overall driving environment becomes safer for everyone. Reduced incidents of anxiety-driven mistakes and better emotional regulation contribute to fewer accidents and road conflicts.

Understanding that every behaviour is driven by an underlying feeling and need provides a powerful framework for transforming learner driver training.

By focusing on these root causes, we can address the true sources of unsafe driving behaviors, leading to more effective, compassionate, and sustainable driver education.

In doing so, we not only enhance the learning experience for individual drivers but also contribute to safer roads for all.

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