The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) say that the average learner now needs around 45 hours of driving tuition with an instructor and a further 22 hours additional practice with friends or family. If you have a son, daughter or friend that is about to turn 17, you’re probably dreading the day they ask you to take them out on the road for some private tuition in between lessons with their instructor. Private practice can hugely benefit a learner driver, and is an excellent way to develop their driving skills and allow them to experience different road conditions and driving situations. However, we all know that supervising a learner driver can be very stressful and tensions can run high, but it’s essential that you stay calm! Follow our guide below to find out if supervising a learner driver is the right decision for you.
Supervising a learner driver
If you want to supervise a learner driver you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a full driving licence (for the type of vehicle they are supervising in – manual or automatic), which must have been held for a minimum of three years
- Ensure the car is in a safe and legal condition
- Meet the minimum eyesight standards
- Ensure the car displays L Plates (or D Plates in Wales) if a learner is driving
- Have lots of patience
- It is also advisable to take a driver assessment or advanced driving course to refresh your own skills and knowledge before you start supervising a learner
- Ensure that you are fully up to date with the latest edition of The Highway Code
What insurance do I need when supervising a learner driver?
When supervising a learner driver, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient car insurance for both the learner and yourself for the vehicle you are driving . Make sure that you read the small print which may include any restrictions within your insurance policy. There are a number of insurance companies that offer competitive learner driver insurance including Provisional Marmalade and Collingwood Insurance. These tend to offer short-term insurance policies (7 days – 24 weeks) that can cover either your own vehicle or someone else’s.
Things to consider before supervising a learner
Before you start supervising a learner driver on the roads, you:
- must ensure that the car is in a safe and legal condition (including being properly licensed, taxed and a valid MOT)
- Clearly display L Plates (or D Plates in Wales) on the front and rear of the car when the learner is driving.
- Always remember to remove the L plates (or D plates) from your car after the lesson is over.
- Buy an interior rear-view mirror for the passenger side to help you see what’s happening behind while the learner is driving, but check with the vehicle manufacturer that it will not affect the deployment of any passenger airbag.
Top Tips to remember
- Set a good example – It is much harder to convince a learner, if he/she sees that you don’t practise what you preach.
- Master the basics first – It’s advisable that you encourage the learner to take professional lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor before you take them out for private practise. Make sure that the learner is fully aware of the basic car controls and is capable of doing an emergency stop before you take them out on the roads.
- Talk to the learner’s instructor – ask when the learner is ready to begin private practice and try to keep in contact during the learning period (if possible, sit in on some lessons). It is very useful to keep a record of the private practice by using ‘The Driver’s Record’.
- Stay calm – don’t shout (except in an emergency) or be sarcastic as this will only increase the learner’s stress and reduce their confidence. Remember, the learner does not have your driving experience and will make mistakes.
- Don’t smoke whilst you are supervising a learner driver.
- DO NOT use a mobile phone – If you a supervising a learner driver you must NEVER use a mobile phone until the vehicle is safely stopped and the ignition is turned off. Remember you are responsible for the learner driver and their actions whilst out supervising.
- Always plan your route before you set off – A confused learner can cause unwanted frustration and stress.
- Remember…we were all learners one day! – try to remember some of the problems you experienced when you were a learner.
Additional free resources for supervising learner drivers
RoSPA have created a useful guide on how to safely supervise a learner to drive. Download ‘Helping Young People Learn to Drive‘ for free.