Driving lessons are expensive, but quite a lot of time is spent simply trying to polish a new skill. Just like anything else in life, learning to control a car in a variety of situations takes practice. Practicing in a private car cuts down on the amount of lessons you have to pay out for and can help you pass the driving test sooner.
It is relatively cheap and easy for a learner driver to practice driving even if they do not have a car of their own. A parent, other relative or friend’s car can be insured by the learner for around £3 a day and the range of cars that can be covered is quite surprising – cars up to the value of £20,000 and up to insurance group 40 are included. The insurance becomes invalid as soon as the test is passed, and is only a (relatively) low premium as the learner has to be accompanied by an experienced driver.
The rules are that you have to have L plates on the front and rear of the car, and the accompanying driver must be over 21 and have held a full driving licence for three years and will be considered to be in control of the car. As such, any one driving with a learner must follow the same rules as if they were driving, for example, they must not be over the alcohol limit, nor be using a mobile phone.
Before starting practice driving it’s best to have a few lessons with a qualified instructor first as s/he will be using a dual control car. The instructor will know when the pupil is ready to drive in car with normal controls. It’s best to speak to the instructor after the lessons to get an idea of the kind of things needing to be worked on, for example, reversing round corners or navigating roundabouts, so this can be given attention prior to the next lesson.
There is no reason why the learner cannot drive everywhere and anywhere taking every opportunity to gain experience – only motorways are forbidden for cars with L Plates. Trips to the local supermarket are great places for practicing parking! Driving to work/college/school for extra experience is also very good, as are longer trips out. Depending on the experience gained new towns with different junction layouts are good although the learner may need to be helped with lane control.
As an accompanying driver you need to support, help out with directions, look out for cars and hazards the learner hasn’t noticed, and think of road situations which might challenge him or her. Junctions with hill starts are a good example. Your role is not, however, to teach. Never contradict what the instructor has taught. If you disagree with something, speak to the instructor at the next lesson. Ways of driving have changed, and you will confuse matters if you try to suggest driving as you were taught (unless it was very recently) or worse still, pass on bad habits you’ve picked up without being aware of it.
Keeping calm is very important, especially if you are helping your son or daughter learn to drive. You don’t want them to loose confidence, so try to keep any criticism to a minimum and keep discussions to when you’ve safely arrived home again.
Accompanying a learner driver is not easy, but the more hours on the road they can put in before passing their test, the more experiences and hazards they will have come across which will make them a better driver once they have passed their test and set out on their own for the first time.
Another important factor is that you will have experienced their driving ability, which will hopefully give you peace of mind when you eventually see them take off the L plates and disappear down the road unaccompanied.