Know the law to teach learner drivers

January 6, 2021

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging anyone supervising a learner driver to ensure they have brushed up their own skills and that they devote 100 per cent of their attention to the task.

The advice comes as different parts of the country deal with different levels of lockdown restriction, which for anyone in tier 4 or protection level 4, means driving lessons are only allowed with someone from your own household during an essential journey.

In Northern Ireland, the current lockdown means driving lessons are not allowed, and driving tests are cancelled until 6 February. Motorcycle tests, however, continue to take place as normal.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: “Driving practice is a vital component of the learning process and a great way to develop skills and experience. The presence of a calm, friendly and unflappable supervisor will be enormously beneficial in making that process as positive as possible.

“But accepting the role is a big responsibility, and not something you would want to do lightly.

“That’s why we are asking anyone who sits down with a learner to ensure they are fully familiar with the rules of the road (many of which may have been altered or adapted since they were learners) and that they take the responsibility seriously by not being distracted.

Rules such as the ban on using a hand-held mobile phone while driving – as well as drink-driving – also apply to anyone supervising a learner driver. You may not be the one driving, but as the qualified driver in charge, you are deemed to be ‘in control’ of the vehicle.

GEM recommends obtaining advice from the learner’s driving instructor to find out what has been covered, where there is a particular need for additional practice and what would be the most helpful areas to work on.

“In the early stages, this is usually best done with just learner and supervisor in the car,” suggests Neil Worth. “As the learner’s experience builds, then you can consider bringing rear-seat passengers – but we suggest not until the learner’s familiarity with different road environments has been allowed to develop.”

Have a good read through the Highway Code to ensure that you’re fully up to date with the rules. You will find the information in it to be very useful for the journeys you make as a supervisor.

Many of the regulations are legal requirements and not just good advice, so by ignoring them, both you and the learner you’re supervising will be guilty of an offence.

What the law says:

  • To supervise a learner, you must be at least 21 years old and must have had a full driving licence for the type of vehicle being used for at least three years.
  • Do also check that the learner has a valid provisional licence, that your insurance policy allows a learner to drive the car and that the insurers know the learner’s age.
  • Check your car is in a safe condition and displaying L plates (L or D plates may be used in Wales) at the front and rear.

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