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Learning to drive

Private practice: everything you need to know

The first time I drove my own car with my mum next to me, I felt like I was about to get arrested. It didn't seem right somehow without a trained instructor telling me what to do - and my JOB is understanding learner driver rules!

There are a bunch of things you need to know before starting private practice. Comment at the end if you've got a question I don't include.

  1. Who can supervise a learner driver?

  2. You can take anyone with you as your supervising driver, as long as they meet the following requirements:

    • They must be sober
    • They must not use a phone
    • They must not be asking for money
    • They must be over 21
    • They must have had a full driving licence for 3 years or more


    Little hint? Maybe don't choose someone you know you'll argue with or who will make you feel self-conscious. We discovered recently that young drivers found practising with their dad was more stressful than driving with their mum - and yet 60% stuck with it anyway!

    Don't be afraid to mix it up: try driving with a few people you trust to find the right fit.

    About to start private practice? Get your supervising driver to read this first - they could learn a thing or two!
  3. Can I take passengers while I'm learning to drive?

    You can indeed. I took my boyfriend along for someone of my driving lessons - he sat in the back as a test weight. Though I don't call him that to his face. My driving instructor told me he'd had a learner with a baby, so she had a few lessons with the baby in the back to get used to it.

    When it comes to private practice, you're fine to have a passenger in the back as long as the person next to you follows all the rules for supervising a learner driver.

    Get the full rules for practising outside of driving lessons.
  4. Does a car need anything special for me to practise driving in it?

    As long as the car is in good, safe working order, all you need physically is L-plates front and back. You don't need the little extra mirror your instructor probably has and you don't need dual controls. Trying to convince your mum she should fit her new Mini with dual controls might not go down too well.

    The car will also need you added to the owner's insurance policy, or you'll need to find your own learner driver insurance.

  5. How much private practice should I have?

    The DVSA reckon you need around 47 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of private practice - that's the average it takes for someone to pass their test.

    In the month leading up to your test, you'll probably want to be practising the routes around your test centre as much as possible, so driving with a supervisor a couple of times a week on top of your lesson/s is a good plan. Getting some test prep in at different times and in different traffic will only help with your hazard perception.

    Wondering how long it will take you to learn to drive? Go find out some of the factors.
  6. What kind of insurance do I need as a learner driver?

    If you're practising in someone else's car, they can add you to their insurance policy. It will probably cost them a bit extra and if you accidentally bump into something, they could lose their No Claims Discount.

    On the other hand, if you get your own insurance policy for learner drivers, you can start earning your own No Claims Discount. There is temporary insurance that's just for learners, but getting a regular policy that you just update when you pass your test means you get a head start on your NCD.

    Our learner driver insurance also gets you started with black box feedback, so you have a running commentary on how you're doing. Getting this while you're still learning means you'll be in great shape for earning your discounts 3 times a year - up to 21% off your insurance if you drive well.

    If you're getting insurance for your own car, make sure you read our post about how to buy a car with a provisional licence. You'll need to make sure someone else is covered to drive it so it can be moved around.

    Find out more about how to get the best learner driver insurance for you.

Get more help with every part of learning to drive in the Young Driver's Guide. And don't forget to submit your own question below!