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Teaching a
Learner Driver

Teaching a Learner: Need to Know

Teaching a learner to drive

Teaching a friend or family member to drive requires preparation and patience. But it’ll help them build up their skills and confidence, and will ultimately prove rewarding.

If you’re thinking of giving driving lessons, here’s everything you need to know.

How much practice should a learner have before their driving test?

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says that learner drivers have an average of 45 hours’ worth of lessons before their driving test. This is supplemented by 22 hours of practice. However, there’s no minimum recommended amount. When a learner’s ready, they’re ready.

How old do you have to be to teach someone to drive?

You need to be at least 21 years old to teach a learner. You must have also held a full licence for at least three years.

What other requirements are there for teaching a learner?

Your pupil should have their provisional licence. They must also meet the minimum eyesight requirement, as should you.

The car you use for lessons must be roadworthy, have a valid MOT and be taxed. You should also both be insured to drive it. During the lessons, you need to display L-plates, or optional D-plates in Wales. When the lesson is over, you should take these back off.

You must also ensure your pupil is supervised at all times. If a learner is caught driving without supervision, they can be fined up to £1,000, and get 6 points on their licence.

Should my pupil also have lessons with a professional instructor?

Ideally your pupil will have lessons both with you and with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). It’s a good idea to start them off with a professional first, where they can learn the basics. When you start teaching them, it will be easier – and less stressful – if they have a little driving skill.

If they’re also having professional lessons, you’re likely to benefit from speaking to the ADI regularly. This way, they can tell you when your pupil is ready for certain things. You may also find it helpful to sit in on a few of their lessons. With their permission, of course.

What should I do before giving lessons?

It’s worth bringing yourself up to date with the Highway Code before your lessons start. This will be useful for explaining warning signs, road markings and so on.

It may also be worth fitting a rear-view mirror on the passenger side, to give you a better view behind the car while the lesson’s in progress.

What should I do during the lesson?

First of all, explain to your pupil exactly what the lesson will cover. Also ask if there’s anything in particular they’d like to concentrate on.

If they’re an absolute beginner, you might want to start in an area with little or no traffic. For example, an empty car park might be best if they’re still getting used to working the pedals and steering. Certainly avoid busier roads during early lessons, and stick to familiar routes.

Before you start taking them out on proper roads, be sure to plan your route. Save more complicated roads and junctions until later lessons, when they’ve built up their confidence.

Please note that you cannot take them out on a motorway. Learners in England, Wales and Scotland can only drive on a motorway while supervised by an ADI, in a car with dual pedals fitted.

How should I conduct myself during lessons?

As a friend or family member, you may find it takes a little while to get used to the teacher-pupil dynamic. Here are a few things to bear in mind when giving driving lessons.

You should try to remain calm at all times. This is obviously easier said than done. But not keeping your cool could have a negative effect on the learner, and put you both at greater risk. Try to avoid raising your voice, or letting any frustration show.

Be sure to give any instructions in good time. Try to avoid surprising your pupil. They should have time to process any instructions, and not feel rushed.

Unless it’s relevant to the lesson, try to avoid talking too much. Pupils are likely to find this distracting, especially in earlier lessons. So save your chit-chat for when they become more confident and experienced.

If you or your pupil get stressed, it’s ok to take a breather. Agree to pull over for a few minutes, and continue when you’ve calmed down.

When your pupil is a bit more experienced, you may find asking questions is a better approach than issuing instructions. Reflecting on their performance will improve their awareness.

Similarly, at the end of the lesson, discuss their performance. Talk about what went well, and also make constructive suggestions regarding things that didn’t go so well.

As much as lessons may be a little hair-raising at first, you’ll soon both settle into a natural rhythm. And it’s a great feeling when they finally pass their test, as you’ve helped start them off with a valuable skill for life. Good luck to both of you!