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Can I let a friend teach me to drive?

Can I let a friend teach me to drive?

Learning to drive is a brand-new adventure – the question is, who is allowed to experience that adventure alongside you in the passenger seat? Can a friend teach you how to drive? And, if so, is it wise to forego professional driving lessons entirely? We investigate… 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 6 NOVEMBER 2019

Can a friend teach me how to drive?

Legally they can, yes. You can learn to drive with any driver provided:

  • they are 21 or over
  • they have held a full licence for at least three years

What will I need to do if a friend is teaching me to drive?

Make sure that their car is roadworthy, taxed and very importantly, that they’ve arranged for you to be insured as a learner driver. That almost certainly won’t have come as standard on their insurance, so they’ll need to contact their car insurance provider and add you as a named driver.

You’ll also need:

  • a provisional driving licence which allows you to drive on all UK roads except motorways, provided you are supervised  
  • L plates on the front and back of the car when you’re driving

What else do I need to think about?

You’ll have to study for the theory side of the test too. A driving test is made up of two parts, a theory test and the practical driving test. You can only take the practical test when you have a pass certificate for the theory part.

Should you use a friend or a driving instructor?

Many people who use friends or relatives to teach them to drive do so because of the expense of lessons. According to the RAC, the typical cost of lessons is around £20 to £25 an hour, and the average learner needs about 45 hours of tuition to be ready for the test.   

With this in mind, it’s understandable that you might be tempted to rely on a friend or relative rather than a driving instructor. But there are a few things to consider:

Time: unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend who’s a qualified driving instructor, it could take longer to reach the required standard necessary to pass your test. 

Driving standards: a qualified instructor will have been regularly assessed to ensure that they’re able to offer a high standard of tuition. Importantly, they’ll also avoid teaching you any bad habits, while you might find that you pick these up from your friends, especially if it’s been some time since they passed their test. 

Knowledge: a driving instructor will know all the current road rules and be able to provide you with the latest updates. Because qualified instructors know what you’ll be examined on in the test, they structure your lessons accordingly. Your friends might think they know everything, but their knowledge might not be up to date.

Safety: driving school cars come with dual controls, allowing the instructor to quite literally step in if required. Obviously, your friend’s car won’t be fitted out in this way, so you’ll need to be extra careful.

One thing to think about might be combining approved lessons with some top-up time from a willing friend or relative. This can be an ideal option with fewer paid lessons and plenty of road-time practice, while still getting professional tuition.

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