Driver Training

A lot of new four wheel drivers have instantly recognised the need for the acquisition of new skills in the use of their four wheel drive. These people need little convincing that some form of Driver Training will be a great asset. This article discusses everything about Driver Training courses - if you need it, where to get it etc.
Article By: Michelle Martin
Created: June 2008
Revised: December 2011
Latest Feedback: August 2013

Driving Skills

Most of us would agree that the driving techniques required for a four wheel drive vehicle off the highway are somewhat different to those needed for on road driving. There is absolutely no doubt that there is a great deal of skill required to drive a 4WD safely through different types of four wheel drive terrain. This terrain may include mud, ruts, deep water, sand or hilly and broken country.

There are three different ways to collect this skill these days. The old adage of learn from your own mistakes can be expensive and as they say, some of us never do learn. By joining your localfour wheel drive clubs you are very likely to be either required to attend their 4WD driver training course or as a minimum, you will receive some tips as you participate in club outings. Finally, if the club scene is not your thing and learning from your own mistakes does not enthuse, then a commercial provider of 4WD driver training is the most obvious choice.

A lot of new four wheel drivers have instantly recognised the need for the acquisition of new skills in the use of their four wheel drive. These people need little convincing that some form of Driver Training will be a great asset.

However, it is interesting to note that many "experienced" four wheelers are also gaining a great deal from attending an appropriate 4WD Course.

The provision of 4WD Driver Training has progressed in leaps in bounds in recent years. It is a competitive and highly skilled area these days. Sure, there are still some, what might be termed "back yard operators" who believe they can make a fast dollar from doing what they enjoy doing on the weekend. But in the main, the commercial providers of 4WD driver training courses are very professional and knowledgeable in the art of four wheel driving.

Finding a Professional Instructor

Most capital cities and major regions have organisations offering 4WD training and in some areas there are several providers giving you the opportunity to compare and choose. To overcome the back yard operator or the person that is not fully committed to their task, the first step is to look for a course that meets the Nationally Recognised standard for 4WD driver training.

National Recognition

The provider’s website or advertising literature will advise you if they are offering a Nationally Recognised course. This is your guarantee that the course you are considering will provide a certain level of training. It is also a guarantee that your trainer is qualified in training techniques, something that a lot of people overlook when choosing their provider. There are stringent requirements placed on any provider of a Nationally Recognised course to ensure that they have the necessary skill to stand up in front of a group of people and communicate with them and pass on their knowledge of the subject.

Australian Quality Training Framework

Please be aware that from 1 July, 2002 all Registered Training Organisations should comply with the new Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF) standards for registered training organisations. The AQTF is a set of nationally agreed standards to ensure quality of vocational education and training services throughout Australia. It should be noted that these are training standards, i.e. how training is provided and not what is included in the training. For example, the AQTF will not ensure that the course you choose is being provided by a person that has any experience in 4WDriving, but rather the trainer has met a standard for providing training courses per se.

Choosing a Training Provider and Course

This raises the second point, whilst a training provider may be able to meet training standards does it necessarily mean they know anything about four wheel driving? Sadly, not so - you must next look at the experience and four wheel drive qualifications of your training provider. If the person imparting the 4WD knowledge to you has been doing so for several years and has a proven record of extensive four wheel drive experience, then you can reasonably assume that this person knows what they are talking about. Be careful of boasts of several years of 4WD experience, the question is, were they doing right all this time?

So, choose a course which is taken from the Nationally Recognised Training Qualifications and which is supplied by a trainer that is a Registered Training provider or a partner to a Registered Training Provider and whose personal credentials in four wheel drive operation can be verified by the industry itself and not claims made by the provider.

Provider Experience

In many cases your training provider will also operate a 4WD tour business. This is a good measure of their level of knowledge, someone that has been extensively travelling and leading four wheel drive tours all over Australia for many years is very likely to have a great deal of knowledge. These people only stay in business if they do their job right. So, a company that has a well established business in both the four wheel drive training and tag-along field is most likely to have the knowledge and the delivery that you are seeking.

Fortunately many of the training providers are also well known in the four wheel drive industry, through either their editorial skills or organizational skills of major outback trips. Talk to the various dedicated four wheel drive outlets in your area to ascertain their thoughts on who can be trusted with your hard earned cash.

Facilities

Finally, the trusted provider will have a facility that has been especially established for the training exercises. These facilities show a commitment to the business by the provider and is your guarantee of a safe and controlled environment for your training. When it is all said and done, you want to get the best value for your money and at the same time learn how to handle your four wheel drive when it leaves the bitumen.

Don’t be swayed too much by the cheapest provider, the provision of qualified people, years of experience and proper training facilities all come at a cost. This cost must be passed on to the consumer but is again a guarantee to you that your chosen trainer has made a commitment to do a good job. After all, he or she wants you to talk highly of them and perhaps join them on one of their tours.

Terrain Diversity

Look for a course that offers training in all sorts of terrain such as sand, mud, hill climbs, water crossings and rocky ground. The Accredited course should also provide training in operation of recovery equipment and convoy procedure. There are bonuses offered by some training providers in relation to advice on communications equipment, accessories and camping gear and this may be the difference between choosing a provider that offers only the bare minimum of training and one that has obviously gained enormous experience in the field and is willing and able to pass this on to his/her students. Be aware of courses that seem to be limited by time. Learning all these new skills takes time. Another good question to ask is what is the pupil to trainer ratio, it is almost impossible to adequately train a person in four wheel drive skills without having some one-on-one training.

Further Research

We are fortunate in Australia that we do have a committed group of 4WD training providers offering their wares. Armed with a little knowledge of how to choose the right trainer, you will know that you have made the right choice. For further research on the ideal choice of driver trainers for you, please use the links and contact details given for the Sponsors of this page. Other training organisations can be also be found from our Members List, displaying current Business Members providing this service.

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