Getting private practice while learning to drive is a good way to gain experience behind the wheel before taking the driving test. But before you offer to take someone out, make sure you have the relevant information.
Follow the advice of the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ RoadSmart division before giving a learner driver some additional driving experience.
* Firstly, you must be at least 21. You must have held a full driving licence for at least three years, it must be for the same type of vehicle you are going to supervise the learner in. The vehicle must also have L-plates.
* Remember you are the responsible person and, as such, deemed to be in control of the car when you are supervising a learner. So the same road traffic laws apply to you as to the driver – eg, not supervising a learner while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or using a hand-held phone.
* It’s also your duty to ensure the vehicle is safe and roadworthy. A valuable exercise is to show the learner how to carry out the checks to ensure the vehicle is safe to use on the road. You can get a copy of the driving test ‘show me tell me’ questions at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/car-show-me-tell-me-vehicle-safety-questions/car-show-me-tell-me-vehicle-safety-questions
* Fitting an additional mirror to use as a rear view mirror from the passenger seat is recommended. Suction mirrors are widely available and inexpensive.
* Talk to the learner’s driving instructor regularly. Working out a practice plan can save valuable time and money.
* Planning your route and what you are going to cover is also worthwhile, as driving around aimlessly won’t be the best use of your time or experience. Taking a learner somewhere too advanced could also do more harm than good
* Most importantly, keep calm. It’s easy to say, but keeping calm really will pay off and save any heated arguments with the learner behind the wheel.
* Keep your instructions precise and in timely. Learners needs time to process the information and then plan what to do. Saying “carefully” or “slowly” when you mean to say “use the brake pedal” can cause confusion. Words are interpreted differently, and not always with the same level of understanding. A useful guide to sitting with a novice can be found at http://roadsafetyscotland.org.uk/sites/default/files/So%2C%20Your%20Teenager%20is%20Learning%20to%20Drive_0_0.pdf
* Setting a good example and explaining what you are doing when driving can be really helpful too. It gives the learner an insight into what you are observing, anticipating and planning, and gives them time to ask questions without being in the driving seat.
* Last but not least, remember that things might have changed since you learned to drive. So when the learner says, “….. but my driving instructor says I should do it like this,” listen and think about it. You can always check with the instructor later – you might even learn something new!
“Research proves that a combination of professional lessons and extra practice builds experience and can give a new driver a firm foundation for a safe driving career,” Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving & Riding Standards, said. “Driving is a life skill, so approach it properly with a good plan.”