Can I practise learning to drive during a lockdown?
Sigh. We probably all saw it coming, but England is in another (hopefully final!) lockdown from 5th January for at least six weeks, with no end date being given just yet, 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.
Will this affect lessons with my driving instructor or my test?
The answer is pretty much the same for everyone, but here's what we know right now.
England: According to the government website, ‘You must not provide driving lessons or motorcycle training in England because of the national lockdown. You can supervise someone from your household or support bubble during an essential journey during the national lockdown.’ All driving tests have been suspended.
Wales: ‘You must not provide driving lessons or motorcycle training in Wales it’s in alert level 4. You can supervise someone from your household or support bubble during an essential journey in alert level 4 areas.’ All driving tests have been suspended.
Scotland: ‘You must not provide driving lessons or motorcycle training in mainland Scotland because of the temporary lockdown. You can supervise someone from your household or support bubble during an essential journey during the temporary lockdown.’ All driving tests have been suspended.
Northern Ireland: ‘The DVA has cancelled all driving tests (except motorcycle tests) for the period 28 December to 6 February inclusive. The DVA will refund payments for tests booked during this period and will contact those customers directly to advise how they can reschedule their appointments.’ Currently there is no clear guidance on whether driving lessons are still going ahead.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will contact you if your test is affected and tell you what you need to do.
So, can I still do private practise 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 or support bubble on these trips e.g. doing the supermarket run with a parent.
Don’t have your own car? You can still keep learning on these essential trips provided you can use someone in your household’s. Our flexible learner insurance allows you to be insured for as long as you need on someone else’s car without affecting their policy.
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 quarantine 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.