Private driving lessons are increasingly being used by learner drivers to help reduce the cost of learning to drive. It is estimated that the average successful driving test candidate has had 46 hours of professional lessons and 23 hours of private practice.
Statistics show that learners who have had private practice driving lessons are more likely to pass their driving test and are less likely to have an road accident in the early after passing their driving test.
To offer private practice to a learner driver you must:
- have held a full EC/EES driving licence for a minimum of three years
- be at least 21 years old
The car used for the private lessons must:
- be properly insured for use by a learner
- legally road worthy with a full MoT test certificate, road tax etc
- display L-plates (D-plates in wales) at the front and rear
Although not a legal requirement is it recommended that an extra rear view mirror is fitted so that the accompanying driver can see what is happening behind.
The learner driver must:
- be at least 17 years of age (16 if receiving Higher rate Disability Living Allowance)
- have a valid provisional driving licence.
When giving private lessons:
- avoid obstructing traffic
- consider local residents i.e. don't constantly practice emergency stops in one street
- be patient and stay calm
- remember when you accompany a learner driver you are responsible for their actions
- don't contradict the professionals - remember Approved Driving Instructors teach using the latest techniques, which may not match your own ideas on how best to drive. To the driving test examiner 'your way of driving' may be incorrect and even worthy of scoring a driving fault.
How To Practice
- drive on as many different roads, and in as many different traffic conditions as you can
- practice in all weather conditions and at all times
- don't be afraid of the dark, although not part of the practical test, driving at night can be useful and help boost driver confidence
- practice the parking and reversing exercises. Mastering these are often just a question of practice and repetition, which can prove expensive when paying an ADI
- plan your route. You don't want to end up in a situation your learner driver can not cope with.
For safety reasons it is recommended that you let an Approved Driving Instructor teach the basic driving skills to the learner before you start private practice lessons. Remember, the ADI has the benefit of using a car with dual-controls. So start the private practice once the learner:
- can move away without stalling
- knows how to use the main controls
- can change gear confidently and without having to look at the gear stick
- stop safely and under control
- is comfortable driving in heavy traffic.
Don't Get Distracted
Remove all clutter from the practice car - window stickers, dangling mascots and other loose items - as these may move about when driving and cause a distraction. Make sure there is nothing on the floor which may roll about. Apart from being a distraction, such items could roll under the foot pedals and prevent them being used correctly.
Don't carry extra passengers - just learner and teacher. Doing so may affect driver/teacher concentration.
Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre
This routine is fundamental to safe driving and passing the driving test. Your learner's instructor will reference it all the time and it is essential you continue to do so, making sure they use it whenever necessary.
Mirror - whenever a hazard appears ahead, or if you intend to change your speed or position, you must check your mirrors. You must then decide whether it is safe to carry out your planned manoeuvre.
Signal - if you are sure it is safe to proceed, and there are other road users present who need to know that you intend to make a manoeuvre, then you should give the correct signal.
Manoeuvre - before making the manoeuvre you must again check your mirrors, then continue with the manoeuvre if safe to do so.
Over the years the manoeuvre part of the routine has been extended to include: Position, Speed, Look
Position - Check your mirrors. If safe to do so, move into the correct position for the manoeuvre
Speed - make sure the car is travelling at the appropriate speed for the manoeuvre to be carried out safely.
Look - (Look, Assess, Decide, Act)
- Look - what can you see?
- Assess - What are your options?
- Decide - Make your decision, is it safe to act or not?
- Act - Continue with the manoeuvre or wait.
The Two-Second Rule
Inexperience increases the risk of accidents. To help compensate for this lack of experience you should always play it safe. You should try and create a 'safe space' around the car being driven. I'm sure you know what the two-second rule is, but to be sure -
in normal road conditions, when a vehicle ahead of you passes a fixed point, count the time it takes for you to reach the same point. The time should be a minimum of two seconds. When teaching a learner, however, it will do no harm to make it three seconds, as this will give them plenty of time to react to any sudden changes the vehicle ahead may make.
remember, you don't have to drive on the speed limit. If your learner doesn't feel confident driving at 60mph, don't insist they do so.
A Second Rear-View Mirror
Fit one of these so you can easily see the road behind you. All driving instructors use them.
Evaluate Your Learners Skills
Before taking them on the road it is a good idea to try and understand what standard your learner is at. Don't just ask them and then take their word for it. Confidence doesn't necessarily translate into actual skill. Consider how much on-road experience they have. Have they gained road skills from riding a cycle, or moped?
Most of us (especially men) think we're good drivers, but are we? Be honest with yourself. Try and realise your deficiencies and bad habits.
Start by taking the learner on quiet, housing estate roads. Assess how they control the car and react to any other road traffic. Note how well, and easily they change gear. Do they have to look at the gear stick when changing? What about moving off, can they easily pull away without stalling?
give directions well in advance and use the same familiar terms.
Every Question Is Simple, If You Know The Answer
Just because something seems obvious to you, it doesn't mean that everyone else 'gets it'. Show patience and understanding.
Keep Risks Levels Low
Overtaking on a narrow, twisting rural road?
Stop And discuss Mistakes
don't overload your learner with advise and correction while they are still concentrating on their driving. Let them stop somewhere safe then advise them where they went wrong.
If you start to argue, STOP (the car). Simple.
Bad Habits To Avoid
The following are common bad habits that are easily to pick up but can cost your learner dearly when taking the driving test.
- Not signalling correctly, or in good time.
- Failing to check the blind spots when necessary
- Poor turns that cut across lanes
- Pulling out of junctions too quickly
- Failing to notice changing speed limits
- Driving through an amber traffic light
To understand the skills a learner driver needs to acquire see our driving test syllabus page. This will help you understand what you need to teach them.