Offering private practice lays an important role so the learner driver can gain vital and affordable experience behind the wheel before taking the driving test. But this experience can sorely test a well intentioned volunteer’s nerves, which is why my husband turned out to be the better (and more patient) teacher than me when our son started to drive.
Before you offer to take someone out make sure you have the relevant insurance to cover a provisional and often under 25 licence holder.
In principle, this insurance is often an extension to Mum and/or Dad’s insurance cover allowing the provisional licence holder to drive their car, under their supervision, where appropriate.
Learner Driver Advice
All those willing or conscripted into giving the learner driver additional driving experience will benefit from advice from IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman.
1) Firstly let’s get the legal bits out of the way – You must be at least 21 years old. You must have held a full driving licence for at least three years, your licence must be for the same type of vehicle you are going to supervise the learner in and the vehicle must display “L” plates. Please see this website for details.
2) Remember you are the responsible person and as such you are deemed to be in control of the car when you are supervising a learner driver, therefore the same road traffic laws apply to you as to the driver eg not supervising a learner driver whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using a hand held mobile phone
3) It’s also your responsibility as the insured vehicle driver to ensure the vehicle is in a safe and roadworthy condition. A very valuable exercise is to show the learner how to carry out checks to ensure the vehicle is safe to use on the road – you can get a copy of the driving test ‘show me, tell me’ questions here.
4) We recommend an additional mirror to use as a rear view mirror from the passenger seat, a suction mirror often used to view children in the back is suitable, widely available and not an expensive purchase.
5) Talk to the learner’s driving instructor regularly, working out a practice plan can save valuable time and money.
6) Plan your route and what you are going to cover is the best plan because driving around aimlessly isn’t the best use of your time or experience and taking a learner somewhere too advanced could also do more harm than good.
7) Always keep calm. Yes it’s easy to say, but keeping calm really will pay off and save any heated arguments with the learner behind the wheel.
8) Keep your instructions precise and always make them in good time – a learner needs to have time to process the information and then plan what to do. Saying “carefully” or “slowly” when you mean ‘use the brake pedal now’ can cause confusion because words can be interpreted differently, not always with the same level of understanding.
9) Setting a good example and explaining what you are doing when driving can be really helpful – it gives the learner an insight into what you are observing, anticipating and planning and gives them time to ask questions without being in the driving seat
10) Lastly, but not least, remember things might have changed since you learnt to drive so when the learner says: “My driving instructor says I should do it like this” listen and think about it. You can always check with the instructor later and you might even learn something new!