Proposal for
Certified Driving Instructors
by Bernd Felsche

Road safety is largely determined by the attitudes of road users.

Participation in road traffic demands constant caution and mutual regard.
Every traffic participant is to conduct themselves in a manner so that no others are damaged, endangered or, more than required by circumstances, obstructed or encumbered.
From Article 1 of the German Straßenverkehrsordnung (StVO)

It is proposed that all those who wish to obtain a licence to operate a motor vehicle, do so by undergoing sufficient instruction by a Certified Instructor. This article describes how this addresses the management of quality of attitude amongst drivers.

Certified Instructors (CI) would guarantee that:

  1. All students are competent in dealing with the variety of driving conditions during instruction, including but not limited to:

    1. Daytime and rush-hour city/urban traffic

    2. Highway cruising including high speed and overtaking

    3. Multi-lane highway/motorway driving

    4. Country roads including narrow and unsealed routes

    5. Night-time driving in all of the above

    6. Driving in wet and dry conditions in all of the above

  2. All students are capable of controlling the vehicle under expected conditions, including:

    1. skid control

    2. brake control including emergency braking

    3. dealing with breakdowns and crashes

  3. All students have appropriate attitudes with regards to their obligations and responsibilities as traffic participants.

Hours of Certified Instruction

It is estimated that it would take a minimum of 20 hours over a period of at least 3 months for an adept candidate to convince a CI that all of the above are satisfied.

A CI's chief purpose isn't in essence so much that of an instructor, but an assessor. They get around 10 hours to do what can't be done in 10 minutes of testing.

The minimum expected hours is probably what it to take for a CI to be convinced of the student's abilities and attitude under the various traffic conditions. It's nothing like the total time that learner should be under some form of instruction; be that behind the wheel or in a classroom and workshop.

The concept of regulated minimum hours is however bogus: It'd take as many hours as is necessary to convince the CI that the student is ready to drive on the roads unsupervised.

Students could still undergo additional (logged) instruction by uncertified instructors but would require approval from a CI to qualify for final assessment before getting their licence. A CI then has the chance to correct things that's been "learnt" from other instructors.

Driving Conditions

As not all students or CI may have ready access to all traffic conditions as outlined above, several CI may have to instruct a student. The number of CI would have to be limited to 2 or 3 so that each would have sufficient exposure to a student.

It's anticipated that CI will form several associations and collaboration between distant ones could provide for referrals to CI in areas other than the student's native traffic environment. This can result in e.g. rural-based CI to host weekends away for small groups of students from urban areas; and vice-versa.

An essential task of the CI is the psychological evaluation of the student during and around the time of instruction. The more a particular CI observes each student, the higher the quality of the assessment.

Quality of Licenced Drivers

The requirement for certified instruction can also be applied to people who want to get their licence back after suspension of (say) 6 months or more. The exact requirements would have to be based on the scheme of penalties that result in suspension.

A series of technical infractions can result in the suspension of licences; a penalty of licence suspension for such is already perceived as inappropriate and onerous by some. Such drivers should not burden CI.

There are others however for whom a long-term assessment is appropriate and a course of CI a mandatory requirement to ensure that the subject's attitude has changed sufficiently to let them back on the road, unsupervised.

Certified Instructors

Certification of the instructors has to be on a (uniform) federal basis; perhaps under the auspices of the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) working together with State Authorities. Setting the standards nationally (or even internationally through e.g. UN/ECE) from the outset obviates the need to normalize different sets of laws and regulations.

CI performance is to be evaluated continuously, based on the performance of their graduates. The highest penalty for failing in their obligations (save from criminal fraud by knowingly graduating the incompetent) would be a permanent ban on them being a driving instructor; certified or otherwise.

Although in a competency-based scheme, there would be no need for the final test, there is a background of testing by road authorities. Least of all to keep them comfortable and as the primary quality control on the CI.

In terms of what fees a CI could charge; Certified instructors would be the only way to gain (or regain!) a licence. The opportunity for CI in rural areas to provide weekend workshops and instruction for urbanites can usefully augment what could otherwise be a meagre income.

Expected Gains

Fewer crashes

Less road trauma.

Co-operative road use

Improved traffic flow.

Reduced fuel consumption

Reduced motoring costs.

Improved productivity.

Reduced stress and rage



This version: 2010-06-18

First published: 2006 at http://bernd.felsche.org