Driving tips for beginners

Learning to drive is a big milestone for many teenagers, but for parents, teaching a beginner driver can present some challenges. Among other things, you’ll need to have an up-to-date knowledge of the current driving test, be able to set a good example with your own driving, and above all, communicate calmly – even in tense situations.

We want your lessons to be as safe and stress-free as possible, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to teaching a learner driver.

Make sure they are ready to begin practising

Legally, you can begin teaching your child to drive once they are 17 years old and have their provisional licence (you can apply for one when they are 15 years and 9 months old). It’s important to think about whether they are ready to start learning to drive, and you should feel confident that they will be able to listen to your instructions. They don’t need to have passed their theory test before learning to drive, but it is a good idea to read through the theory test revision and practice guides before starting. This will give them a frame of reference for what they are about to do and deepen their understanding of the highway code and essential driving skills.

Review the highway code

A lot has changed since most of us passed our driving tests, so it’s worth having a look at the theory test guides and making sure you understand the highway code in its most current iteration. Not only will you be able to help them revise for the all-important theory test, but you’ll also ensure that you’re teaching everything correctly. Practical driving tests do change over time, so it’s important to refresh and keep up-to-date with the latest changes. For example, changes were made in late 2017 to include a section of driving with a sat nav.

Get comfortable with the basics

Before hitting the road, make sure they understand the different parts of the car, whether it’s a manual or an automatic. If you are teaching them in a manual car, take some time to explain the concept of clutch control and the bite point. Getting to grips with the A, B, C, or order of the pedals (accelerator, brake, clutch), is a must in the first lesson, as is showing them the locations of the indicators. It’s also a good idea to point out how to use the screen wash and windscreen wipers, especially if there’s a chance the weather could take a turn for the worse.

Find a good place to practise

Start off somewhere quiet – you’ll be able to teach them the basics of stopping and starting safely without any distractions. Once they’ve mastered the basics and you feel ready to take them out on the road, try to plan lessons along familiar routes and outside of rush hour. As you both gain confidence, you can try out new routes and busier roads. Remember to keep their ability and confidence in mind and try not to rush things.

Consider lessons with a professional driving instructor

According to the RAC, a learner driver needs 45 hours of lessons and a further 22 hours of practise to pass their driving test. Taking a few lessons with a professional driving instructor does have its pluses, like:

  • Safety – driving instructors’ vehicles have dual controls
  • Expertise – an instructor will know exactly what is needed to pass the test
  • Distance – an instructor is not a relative; it can sometimes be easier to learn from someone who doesn’t know you

Of course, lessons with an instructor can be costly, so it may be best to do a few lessons with an instructor and lead a few more informal practise sessions yourself. A combination like this should give them the best chance of passing that test.

Be supportive

Remember to be reassuring and supportive, and make sure that you’re both ready before taking on difficult drives. Getting behind the wheel is a big decision for many people, and one that takes patience and practise. If you find yourself getting stressed whilst teaching, try to think back to when you were a learner and about what you might have wanted from a lesson.

Getting the right insurance

If you are over 21 and have had a full driving licence for at least three years, you can teach someone to drive. You’ll need to have insurance before taking anyone out, and it may be possible to add a learner driver to your existing esure policy (subject to conditions) – just call us on 0345 603 7873.


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