Learning to drive has always been expensive, especially when you’re a teenager on a low income, so it’s common for young drivers to ask a family member or friend to supervise them while they practice.
In fact, the Driving Standards Agency actually recommends that a learner driver accumulates at least 22 hours of private practice outside their official driving lessons. These hours, they say, are an essential part of a driver’s training.
The problem is, many people are unaware that certain legal responsibilities come with supervising a learner driver. This is what the law says:
- you must be at least 21 years old to supervise a learner driver
- you must have held a full driving licence yourself for at least three years
- your licence must apply to the type of vehicle in which you are supervising the student.
Many supervising drivers simply assume that the only requirement is to have passed your driving test, which is not the case. The rules ensure that learner drivers are supervised by someone with appropriate experience and driving skills.
Did you also know that it is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that the car they and the learner go out in is in a safe and road-worthy condition? Even if the car belongs to the student, he cannot be assumed to know if it is in a safe condition to drive until he has passed his driving test.
It’s a good idea to spend some of your practice time helping a learner driver to make the appropriate safety checks before setting off. This will also help him in his driving test.
You must make sure that your eyesight meets the minimum required standards – even if you don’t intend to drive the car yourself. As the “official” supervisor, you are responsible for spotting potential dangers on the road if your student does not. The legal requirement is the ability to read an old-style number plate in good light from 20.5 metres, or a new-style number plate from 20 metres.
As the supervisor, you must make sure the car is displaying “L” plates at all times.
As the person with the driving licence, you are deemed to be in control of the car, even if you’re not driving, so the rules about being under the influence of drink or drugs apply as much to you as your protege.
Are you helping a friend out with their driving practice? No matter how much they appreciate your time and effort, you mustn’t accept payment unless you are licensed as an approved instructor by the Driver Standards Agency.
And finally, when it comes to insurance, make sure that if you DO drive the learner driver’s car, you have adequate insurance, even if you only get behind the wheel for five minutes to take the car somewhere quiet for them take over for their practice.