Month: September 2020

Commentary Driving Helps Parents Teach Teen Drivers How to Focus

What does a teenage driver think about when he (or she) gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle? Chances are he thinks about things other than traffic and what’s going on around him – things like dating, parties, the latest number one music video, schoolwork, and so forth. But, driving is a complex task. It takes complete attention and concentration.

How can a parent tell if his teen driver is clearly focused on the driving task? How can he tell what kind of information the teen is processing? Is he properly organizing what he sees? One way a parent can help his teen learn to stay focused on the driving scene is to engage him in commentary driving.

What is Commentary Driving?

Commentary driving is talking – calling attention to parts of the surrounding environment that could directly or indirectly affect the driving task. The driving environment includes, but is not limited to: Condition of the car and driver, traffic signs, road markings, what can be seen (or not seen) in the mirrors and the presence of other vehicles. It takes into account the weather conditions, pedestrian activity, distractions, time of day, and much more.


Here’s an example of commentary driving:

Picture a teen driver about to enter a residential area straight ahead. It’s Saturday afternoon and the weather is warm and sunny. There are children at play, including a group on the sidewalk kicking around a ball. A car is approaching from the opposite direction. A few older kids are riding bikes farther down the block, but scatter to both sides of the road as they see the two cars coming near. There is a controlled intersection just ahead, plus there’s a green traffic light two blocks ahead. How does commentary driving work?

In commentary driving the teen is asked to state first what is most important: “Children in the street and on the sidewalk.” At the same time he should react by slowing his speed. He lists other hazards in order of importance: “Oncoming car. Upcoming intersection with stop a sign. Green light ahead. Glare from the sun.” He might also mention mail boxes, a blind driveway hidden by bushes, and what his speedometer reads. The idea of commentary driving is to train the driver to focus on the most important danger(s) first and to keep his mind on the ever-changing picture.

Developing Driver Organization Skills

A parent can help a teen develop good driver organization skills. With the parent behind the wheel and the teen in the front passenger seat, ask the teen to comment on what he sees, beginning with the most hazardous or most important clue. Discuss whether or not the clues are organized and what changes need to be made to improve the order.

Commentary driving is a good way to identify distractions and builds confidence. Allow the teen to get as much driving time as possible. Frequently test his organizational skills through commentary driving. After a few sessions, there will hopefully be a significant improvement in the teen driver’s performance.

Using the Senses in Learning to Drive

As new teen drivers gain experience, they learn to use their other senses. They develop an even greater awareness of the driving environment. Skilled experienced drivers are constantly aware of changing weather conditions, the different odors in the vehicle and the feel of the vehicle contacting the road. They instantly identify and make adjustments for pedestrians, animals crossing the highway, construction and distractions. Continuing commentary driving will show a parent how much more the teen sees as he gains more driving experience.

Commentary driving is an effective way to improve driving skills. It is gathering the most critical clues and responding in time to prevent an accident or driving mishap. Think of commentary driving as a method for gaining a better understanding of the driving environment at any given time. OTR (Over-the-road) truck and bus drivers go through the same routine in professional driving school. Trainee drivers are required by their instructors to comment on every driving-related thing they see in order to improve focus and driver performance.

A teen driver has a responsibility to keep others safe, as well as himself. He is responsible for preventing harm to property. Explain to your teen driver how important it is to always be aware of his surroundings. Set an example for your teen by being a defensive driver. Commentary driving is a way to reduce anxiety for a new driver and his parent; both are focused on the driving task. It’s a way to build good driving habits and skills that will keep a new driver – and those around him – safe from harm.

British-American Food and Restaurant Translations

For anyone travelling or living abroad, cultural and language differences can be as frustrating as they are interesting. It is useful to know in advance as many of these as possible to avoid confusion. Although it can’t be compared to learning an entirely different language, there are many words used in America that have another meaning in England. Jelly, for instance, is jam, and Jell-O is jelly. Therefore, ordering a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in London would only result in strange looks from the waiter.

The English language doesn’t just change in English speaking countries like America and Australia. There are subtle differences across the United Kingdom. For example, the Scots eat “neeps and tatties” while the English will have turnips and potatoes. Incidentally, turnips in England are known as swede, while the American rutabega is the English turnip. See how it can be confusing?

Americans Eating in Britain

American tourists may be surprised to be greeted by so many American-style restaurants. It can be tempting to stick with the safety of the familiar. After all, British cooking never had a good reputation until recently. But today’s standards and expectations are high as competition soars between restaurants, especially with those owned by celebrity chefs. Don’t give in to the temptation of a well-known fast-food joint. Experience the new culinary delights of British food. Trying local food is all a part of travelling to different countries.

Ready to Order?

Many English terms actually come from the French. When needing a napkin, it is acceptable to ask for a “serviette”. A zucchini is known as a ‘courgette’ and an ‘aubergine’ is what Americans call an eggplant. However, French fries are ‘chips’ and should not be at all confused with potato chips, which are ‘crisps’. Don’t forget the ‘tomato sauce’, also known as ketchup.

Order squash and a brightly-colored fruit drink will appear. Lemonade is actually lemon/lime soda. Soda is called ‘fizzy drink‘, beer is ‘lager’ and ale is ‘bitter’. Fancy a cuppa? It’s a cup of tea, always hot, served with the option of milk and sugar.


The appetiser is called a starter. In the mood for shrimp? Have the prawns. A succulent fillet steak (pronounced fill-it) will satisfy the desire for tenderloin. The ground beef in burgers and Shepherd’s Pie is known as mince, which is different from the delightful spicy raisin filling in mince pies at Christmastime.

Pudding for Dessert

The American version of vanilla, chocolate and butterscotch pudding will not be found on a British pudding menu. Pudding in general means dessert. A pudding also is a cake-like substance which is steamed in a bowl for several hours, such as the traditional English Christmas pudding. But don’t mistake a steak and kidney pudding for dessert!

The equivalent of the popular American pudding would be custard or mousse. Custard can be runny and poured on Christmas pudding! It can also be thick and eaten on its own, and is also an important ingredient in an English trifle which is layers of sherry-soaked cake, custard, fruit and whipped cream. Mousse is rich, light and fluffy.

A Few More Words of English

American – British:

  • Broth – Stock
  • Broil – Grill
  • Canned – Tinned
  • Pickles – Gherkins
  • Candy – Sweets
  • Cookies – Biscuits
  • Biscuits – Scones
  • Apple Crisp – Apple Crumble

To name a few!

It’s time to ask for the bill, not “check, please!”