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Staying Legal – The driver and the supervisor

Measure tyre treadIn order to legally supervise a learner driver, you must be:

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Hold a full driving licence (either manual or automatic, depending on the car you’re driving) for at least three years (any period of disqualification from driving does not count towards the three year requirement)
  • Ensure the car is in a safe and legal condition
  • Meet the minimum eyesight standards
  • Ensure the car displays L Plates (or D Plates in Wales) when a learner is driving.

It’s important to remember that when supervising a learner driver, the same legal requirements apply as if it was you driving, as the law considers supervisors as being in ”legal” control of the vehicle. Therefore, the person supervising the driving lesson can’t use a hand-held mobile phone, nor exceed the drink-drive limit.

Did you know?

A learner driver can be fined up to £1,000 and get up to six penalty points on their provisional licence if they drive without the right supervision .

Supervising a learner driver must be undertaken on a voluntary basis as it is illegal to take payment, unless you are a qualified Approved Driving Instructor and hold the DSA ADI certificate.

Insurance for a learner driver

It might be stating the obvious, but whether you are practicing in your own or a family/friend’s car, it must be insured for your use. Don’t just assume that you are covered as you will be liable if this is not the case.

Practising in a friend/family member’s car:

Insurance cover can be provided in two ways:

  • The driver can add you as an additional driver on the car owner’s insurance policy
  • Special provisional driver insurance can be taken out. These are short-term policies that generally cost from a few pound per day and allow a learner driver to drive in any car up to the value of £20,000 (and up to insurance groups 15/16) without risking the car owner’s own insurance policy.

If you are planning to practice in only one vehicle check to see which option is most cost effective and provides the best cover. If you are planning to train with a number of supervisors in a variety of vehicles then it is best to purchase provisional driver insurance.

The car

POWER questioning

P = Petrol (Tell me what type of fuel the vehicle uses and show me how to put fuel in)

O = Oil (Show me where you would check the oil level)

W = Water (Tell me when you would check the coolant level and show me where you top it up. Show me how to top up the screen wash. Later demonstrate cleaning the screen on a practice drive)

E = Electric (Show me how you would check the vehicle to ensure that all the lights are working correctly)

R = Rubber (A damaged or faulty tyre is arguably the most likely component to directly cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Use questions such as: Tell me what is the legal tread depth. Show me how you would check this. Tell me what the pressure of the tyres front and rear should be and show me how to put air in).

Modern cars are very reliable and drivers can sometimes forget and get out of the habit of checking their vehicle on a regular basis. Carrying out a basic safety check is an ideal way of ensuring that the vehicle is in a legal condition to be used on the road and can be used to prepare them for the driving test.

Candidates are asked two vehicle safety questions – known as ”show me, tell me” questions. The ”show me” question requires a demonstration, and the ”tell me” question an explanation of a vehicle safety function. Carrying out a POWER check is an ideal way to both carry out a basic safety while putting this questioning technique into practice.

In a recent survey it was found that 28% of young drivers said that they didn’t know how to check their tyre pressure.


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