Driving lessons are expensive, so many parents take their learner offspring out to practice their road skills once they know the basics. However, unless you know what you’re doing the money-saving benefits can easily be outweighed by the strain on your nerves and relationship – not to mention the risk of an accident.
Here are some top tips to keep you both safe while you’re teaching a learner driver…
Top 7 tips for taking a learner driver out
1. Understand the legal requirements
You need more than just a licence to take out a learner driver. You must be 21 or over and have held a full licence for at least three years. The learner must hold a provisional licence before they get behind the wheel. It’s a legal requirement to display ‘L’ plates when a learner is driving, but you must remove them when the licensed driver takes over.
2. Ask yourself: Am I a good driver?
You could do more harm than good if you pass on questionable habits to a learner driver. To pass the test and be a safer driver in the long term, they must follow best practice, for example by using the handbrake when stopped and not crossing hands on the wheel. It’s a good opportunity for you to check up on where you are going wrong before starting to teach.
3. Check insurance is in place
It is illegal to supervise a learner driver if you don’t inform the vehicle insurer first. The learner must either be added as a named driver to your policy, or hold their own insurance. Don’t even think about hitting the road without being covered, or you could end up in court.
4. Is your car roadworthy?
Before you switch on the ignition, think through a few basic questions. Is the car roadworthy? As the supervisor, it is your responsibility to check. The usual laws about driving apply to supervision; for example, you must wear glasses if you need them, and should not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
5. Keep communication open
To be an effective teacher, you will need to be able to appreciate the learner’s perspective and give clear, unambiguous instructions. If the learner is a close friend or relative, it’s easy for tempers to get frayed if you come across as overbearing or not giving enough direction. Learners take longer to think through instructions and carry out observations than experienced drivers, so give them as much time as possible to respond to you.
6. Remain calm
As the licensed driver, you are legally responsible for what the learner driver does – something that can be nerve-wracking! Start out with short distances on easy, familiar routes at quiet times to make sure you’re comfortable with your supervising role. If you get stressed, the learner will too – don’t forget to take deep breaths.
7. Do not take payment
Here’s some interesting trivia: Did you know it is against the law to take payment for driving lessons unless you’re a qualified instructor? The same applies for payment in kind, such as gifts. Unless you’re offering driving practice out of the kindness of your heart, you should not be doing it.
Are you planning to help a learner driver get some hours behind the wheel? Why not talk to Computerquote about your insurance needs?