Can I practise learning to drive during a lockdown?
Sigh. If you haven't heard by now (time to come out from hiding behind the sofa) England is about to enter a second lockdown from 5th November to 2nd December in an attempt to fight against the increase in Coronavirus cases.
If like most people you're struggling to keep up with the ever-changing Covid-19 restrictions, you might be wondering what this means for you and your driving progress.
Can I carry on my lessons with my driving instructor?
The answer is slightly different depending on where you live, but here's what we know right now.
England: All lessons and tests will stop on Thursday November 5th when the four-week lockdown begins. This suspension will be lifted on Wednesday December 2nd, allowing for driving practice and testing to resume.
The DVSA have said they will contact affected learners with further guidance “as soon as possible,” but not given any other advice yet for those affected by the suspension.
Wales: Driving lessons and tests are still set to resume on Monday 9th November following the Welsh two-week Coronavirus circuit breaker.
Scotland: The new (second) lockdown is currently only for England, so driving lessons will remain unaffected, but there may be local restrictions if you're in a high-risk alert area.
Northern Ireland: Currently driving lessons with an instructor are suspended until 14th November.
The DVSA will contact you if your test is affected by local restrictions and let you know what you need to do next.
So, can I still practise my driving during a national lockdown?
Under national lockdown rules, driving is only permitted for essential travel, which includes going to the supermarket, a doctor's appointment, or driving to or from work. Provided you have the right supervision and learner driver insurance, you could practise your driving with a member of your household on these trips e.g. doing the supermarket run with a parent.
We would only suggest that learners who are more confident behind the wheel and have already had several lessons with a DVSA approved instructor do this, as heading out as a complete beginner would be dangerous.
Will the driving test run differently after lockdown?
The fundamental parts of the driving test syllabus will stay the same, however there will be some social distancing measures in place to keep you and your driving examiner safe, (most of which you'll be used to by now).
- You'll be asked to wear a face-covering during your driving test (unless you're exempt) and your examiner will be wearing one too.
- To avoid queuing or waiting outside for long periods of time, you’ll be asked to arrive no more than 5 minutes before the test.
- The examiner will use an antiviral wipe to clean the passenger door and anything they need to touch inside the car.
- No one else will be able to sit in on your driving test. If you were planning on having your instructor with you during the test, this unfortunately won't be allowed.
- If you make a serious fault while driving (often called a 'Major') the test will be cut short to minimise the time spent in the car.
- The toilets and waiting room will be closed, so make sure you use the bathroom before you leave home!
Important: if you are self-isolating you'll need to cancel your driving test immediately, but you'll be able to re-book this free of charge for another date outside of your quaratine period.
How can I keep my learning process going?
With the Coronavirus restrictions in place, you may think your whole learning to drive process has to stop over the next month. But while it's disappointing and frustrating to have your plans delayed, there are a few ways you can continue learning during lockdown.
Get theory prepped
If you haven’t passed your theory test yet, why not use the time to brush up on your knowledge? When lockdown comes to an end and theory tests resume, you'll then be test-ready and armed with knowledge for when you go back to focusing on your driving practice.
Keep in touch with your driving instructor
Your driving instructor is likely to be the first to know when lessons can start up again and will be able to offer you support if you have any issues or worries about lockdown affecting your practice. Reach out to them for advice as they've probably been asked the same questions from their other students.
Don’t pile the pressure on
There are thousands of drivers in the exact same situation as you! It’s okay to pause your driving practice for a little while - after all, we're still in a pandemic! Taking some time off and getting back into driving once you feel more comfortable is wise. There is no pressure, so try not to stress and remember you can set your own pace.
By Katey Gregory
Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.