Teaching a learner to drive

Understand what a new driver has to learn, and what the legal implications are, before you teach a first-timer how to drive.

amy smith
Amy Smith
Updated 31 October 2019  | 4 min read

Can you supervise a learner driver?

If you’re over 21 and have had your full driving licence for atleast three years, you can teach somebody else to drive a car. Learners need to be at least 17.

Before you get going, you’ll need make sure the vehicle being used for the lessons is safe and roadworthy, and you’re confident you know how to teach them.

Key points

  • Legally you’re in charge of the vehicle while you’re supervising a learner driver
  • Make sure you and your learner pass the requirements before you take them out on the road - consequences are severe
  • Check your car insurance policy carefully, you might not be covered to take out a learner

What do I need to teach someone to drive?

Aside from a car and patience, there are a a few things to consider before teaching a relative, or friend, to drive.

The learner must have their provisional licence before they start any lesson, private or professional.

Both you and the learner need insurance to drive the car. You can insure the learner as a named driver on your insurance if you’re using your own car.

Or, the learner can add you to their policy as a named driver if they’ve got their own car. If you’re going to be teaching them in their own car, they’ll need to take out learner driver insurance. It’s a type of short-term car insurance policy that they can update after they’ve passed their test.

You need to display L plates on the front and back of the car and have to remove them when the learner stops driving.

Who’s in charge of the vehicle?

Legally, the person teaching is considered in charge of the vehicle while supervising a learner driver. But different traffic offences will affect either you or them.

For example, if the learner breaks the speed limit under your supervision, their licence will be endorsed. If you’re spotted on your mobile phone while you’re supposed to be supervising, then your licence will be affected.

Learners can be fined up to £1,000, and get up to 6 penalty points on their provisional licence, if they drive without the right supervision.

Make sure you know the law around teaching a learner before stepping in the car.

Key considerations before you hit the road with a learner

  1. Communication

    You must be able to communicate in all sorts of situations. Your learner might get flustered and stressed, so you need to be able to calm them down while giving them clear instructions to ensure everyone stays safe - that’s not always easy

  2. Patience

    You’ll need a lot of patience to be able to teach someone to drive. Depending on how many lessons they’ve had with a qualified instructor, it may take a few lessons for them to get the hang of things, and everyone learns at different paces

  3. Dual controls

    Driving instructors have cars with dual controls, so they can stop the car in an emergency. You won’t have this, so you’ll need to be confident you, your learner and other road users will be safe

  4. Highway code

    Brush up on the highway code and driving theory before you head out - you’d be surprised how rusty you might’ve become. Plus, rules change over time

Know the rules

You can’t take a learner on the motorway

Learner drivers are only allowed on motorways with approved instructors and in a car with dual controls fitted. Once they’ve passed their test they can drive freely on the motorway. Or, they can take a pass plus course which includes motorway driving.

You can teach your learner driver on public roads. Find a quiet section of road or plan lessons outside of busy times - particularly if they’re just starting out.

You can carry passengers

As many as the car can legally hold. Although, it’s probably best avoided so your learner doesn’t get distracted.

You can’t get paid

Unless you’re a qualified driving instructor.

Changes to the driving test

Driving tests have evolved over time. If you passed your test years ago, the chances are it’s completely different now.

The introduction of ‘show me, tell me’, hazard perception and independent driving with a sat-nav means added hurdles for learners to jump before they can get their licence.

It’s worth brushing up on the new parts of the test - particularly if your learner isn’t having any lessons with a qualified instructor alongside. You don’t want to teach them old or bad habits.

It’s not just new entrants. Some manoeuvers that might’ve been standard when you took your test, may well have been removed - reversing around a corner and turning in the road, for example.

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