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Teaching someone to drive

Teaching someone to drive can take time, but getting them behind the wheel at every opportunity can help.

Many learner drivers choose to do extra driving on top of their lessons, with someone they know. This can help the learner drivers' chances of passing their test.

Here are some tips on how to teach someone to drive and minimise some of the stress that can arise for both of you.

A parked car with a learner sticker on rear bumper

When can you teach someone to drive?

Supervising a learner driver can help provide vital practice on the road ahead of their test. But remember, you can’t take payment from learner drivers for teaching them how to drive unless you’re a qualified driving instructor.

You can start teaching someone to drive provided:

  • You’re at least 21 years old.
  • You've held a full driving licence for at least 3 years.
  • You’re qualified to drive the same type of car as the learner.
  • You meet the minimum eyesight standards.
  • The learner is at least 17 years old and holds a provisional licence.

Do I need insurance to teach someone to drive?

Both you and the learner must have insurance to drive the car.

If private lessons are happening in your car, then the learner can be added on as an additional driver. But, if there’s an accident under your supervision, your own policy and no-claims bonus can be affected.

Rather than being a named driver on your policy, learners can also take out their own temporary car insurance or learner driver insurance. This shouldn’t impact your existing car insurance policy.

If they’re learning in their own car, learners should be insured as the main driver and you should be added as a named driver. This makes sure that you’re able to take over driving duties and still have cover.

Remember, if you're supervising a learner, you’re supposed to tell your insurer.

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Can learner drivers have other passengers in the car?

A learner driver can have as many passengers as the car can hold.

While it’s not illegal to have passengers, it’s not a good idea to load the car up with people. The last thing you want is to put more pressure on the learner driver.

The person supervising must follow all traffic laws as if they were the driver. This includes not being over the alcohol limit and not using a mobile phone

Teaching a learner how to drive

It might've been a while since you passed your test. Both the practical and the theory test have evolved quite a bit over the years.

So, why not take some time to consider what’s currently required. You might even use it as an opportunity to improve your own driving skills as well.

Follow these steps and you should have a better chance of making a success of teaching someone to drive:

  • Make sure your car is ready for the road
  • Brush up on the driving test
  • Get rid of bad driving habits
  • Plan your route
  • Practice things the learner driver has learnt in their lesson
  • Stay calm
  • Put learner driver through a mock test

1. Make sure your car is ready for the road

It’s important to make sure your car is ready for teaching someone to drive. Otherwise, the learner themselves could end up with penalty points on their licence.

Your car must:

  • Be displaying L plates on front and back
  • Have valid tax
  • Be roadworthy (check lights and tyres)
  • Have an MOT certificate

2. Brush up on the driving test

If you're going to teach someone how to drive, make sure you're refreshed on the latest driving laws.

Depending on how long you’ve had your licence, the driving test might've changed since you tore off your L-plates.

It’s worth studying the manoeuvres that learners need to know for their practical test, such as turning in the road and bay parking.

The same applies to the theory side of learning to drive. If you're a little rusty on road sign meanings or your stopping distances, read up on the Highway Code.

The current driving test includes:

  • Hazard perception
  • Show me, tell me
  • Independent driving

3. Don’t pass on bad driving habits

If you’ve been driving for some years, you might've picked up some bad driving habits along the way.

You don’t want to pass any of these on to a learner driver or they'll risk failing their test. So, it’s best to try and cut out your bad habits now.

Some bad driving habits are:

  • Crossing your hands over the wheel
  • Slipping from the 10 and 2 o'clock positions
  • Not using the handbrake when stopped

4. Plan your route

You should plan your route when supervising a learner driver. By planning, you can take them along roads that tally with their driving ability. But also give them more variety and challenges as their driving experience increases.

It’s best to stick to the quieter, slower, and less complicated roads to begin with. You'd want to gradually build up their exposure to busier, more challenging roads over time.

The same goes for different driving conditions. As their driving skills improve, you should try to get some practice driving at night as well as driving in wet weather.

In the early days, you should be taking a learn driver down the quieter 30-40 mph roads.

Once they’ve built up their experience and confidence, you can start practicing in town centres and on roads/dual carriage ways.

It’s illegal for learner drivers to go on motorways unless they’re with a qualified driving instructor in a car with dual controls.

It’s also always best to find quieter spots if you’re practicing manoeuvres, like 3-point turns or hill starts.

You can use this form to keep a record of private driving practice, including the type of roads/conditions.

5. Practice things from the learner driver’s lessons

It may be worth waiting to have your first practice session after they've had a few lessons with their driving instructor.

Ask what specific skills they'd like to cover in your lesson and talk about what they've been doing with their instructor.

Going over the things the learner driver's been taught helps reinforce the good practice and tips they’ve had from a driving expert.

6. Stay calm

It's crucial to keep calm in the car and not let things get heated. If either of you start to lose your cool, take a 5-minute break and then try again with a clean slate.

Patience is key to supervising a learner driver. If things aren’t working, it may be best to admit defeat. Sometimes a teacher-pupil relationship doesn't work.

If this is the case, it’s better that the learner finds someone else to practice with rather than burn any bridges.

7. Put learner driver through a mock test

Doing a mock test helps prepare learner drivers for the real thing. You can flag things that they might need to work on and combat their nerves.

If you do a mock, it should take 40 minutes and include all the key things that learner drivers face on the real test.

Make note of any obvious mistakes and bad habits, especially anything that's unsafe. You can review these together at the end of the mock. These are the things a learner would want to avoid repeating so they have a better chance of passing their test.

The mock should include:

  • Eyesight test – they’ll need to read a number plate that’s 20 metres away.
  • Driving skill – once you’ve given them instructions, try to assess their driving safety. Make note on how they use the mirrors.
  • Independent driving – allow 20 minutes for independent driving, with the learner taking directions from a sat nav.
  • Pull over, pull out – they have to pull over and then pull out again, using mirrors and indicating.
  • Reversing – test at least 1 of the manoeuvres involving reversing. For example, bay parking or parallel parking.