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Teaching a learner how to drive

People learn to drive at different paces, but getting as much time as possible behind the wheel certainly improves learner drivers’ chances of passing their test.

Many learner drivers opt to do extra driving on top of their lessons with someone they know.

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

A car with L-plates on the back

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 have held a full driving licence for at least three 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 be insured to drive the car. If private lessons are happening in your car, then the learner can be added on as an additional driver. However, 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 learner driver insurance if they’re practicing in your car. This shouldn’t impact your existing car insurance policy.

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

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


Teaching someone to drive

It might have been a long-time 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

It’s important to ensure 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 etc.)
  • have an MOT certificate.


Brush up on the driving test

If you're going to teach someone how to drive, you need to know what you’re doing.

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

You should generally get clued up on what the current driving test contains. 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 your stopping distances, read up on your Highway Code.

The current driving test includes:

  • hazard perception
  • show me, tell me
  • independent driving.


Don’t pass on bad driving habits

If you’ve been driving for some years, you may have picked up some bad driving habits along the way. You don’t want to pass any of these on to a learner driver – they risk failing their test if they copy your bad habits. 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 two o'clock positions
  • not using the handbrake when stopped.


Plan your route

You should plan your route when supervising a learner driver. By planning, you cantake 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, less complicated roads to begin with. But you should 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 nightas well as driving in wet weather.

So, in the early days at least, 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 with them in town centres and on A roads/dual carriage ways.

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

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

Remember, it’s illegal for learner drivers to go on motorways unless they’re accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a car with dual controls.


Practice things from the learner driver’s lessons

It might 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 has been taught from their driving lessons helps reinforce the good practice and tips they’ve had from a driving expert.


Stay clam

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 five-minute break and then try again with a clean slate.

Patience is key to supervising a learner driver, but if things aren’t working, sometimes it’s best to admit defeat. You could be the best of friends usually, but the teacher-pupil relationship just might not work.

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


Put learner driver through a mock test

Doing a mock test helps prepare learner drivers for the real thing, flagging things they need to work on and combating nerves.

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

Look for any obvious mistakes and bad habits, making a note of them, especially anything that appears unsafe. You can review these together at the end of the mock. These are the things a learner should 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, including 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 properly.
  • Reversing – test at least one of the typical manoeuvres involving reversing, including bay parking, for example.


Can learner drivers have other passengers in the car?

A learner driver can have as many passengers as the car can legally hold. While it’s not illegal to have passengers, it’s probably 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 comply with all traffic laws as if they were the driver. This includes not being over the alcohol limit and not using a mobile phone