A simples guide

Should I let a friend teach me to drive over a driving instructor?

The overview

Legally they can yes, but there are few things to take into consideration if you’re thinking of going down this route.

It’s perfectly legal to learn to drive with any driver provided:
- They are 21 or over
- They have held a full licence for at least three years

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 call their car insurance provider and add you as a named driver.

You’ll need a provisional driving licence too, which allows you to drive on all UK roads except motorways, provided you are supervised. Your licence will be required when taking your theory test, hazard perception, and practical driving tests.

You’ll need to put L plates on the front and back of the car when you’re driving, it’s a legal requirement to do so.

You’ll need to drive sensibly as you’re in control of your friend’s wellbeing as well as your own. Driving school cars come with dual control, allowing the instructor to quite literally step in if required. Obviously your friend’s car won’t be fitted out in this way so be careful.

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. The theory side includes 50 multiple choice questions as well as a hazard perception test. You can only take the practical test when you have a pass certificate from the theory part.

Should you use a driving school or an instructor?

Many people who use friends or relatives to teach them do so because of the expense of lessons. We can understand that temptation, but bear in mind a few things.

It takes on average 30 to 40 hours of instruction to get to test standard. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend who’s a qualified driving instructor, this means that it could take longer to reach the required standard.

A qualified instructor will have been regularly assessed to ensure that they are able to offer a high standard of tuition – they will know all the current road rules and be able to provide you with the latest updates. Your friends might think they know everything but it might not be up to date.

Because qualified instructors know what you will be examined on in the tests, they structure your lessons to get you to that standard as quickly as possible. Importantly, they’ll also not teach you any bad habits. You might find that you pick up some of your friends bad habits.

One thing to think about might be combining approved lessons with some top up time from a willing friend. That might give you the best of both worlds with fewer paid lessons and plenty of road time practice whilst still getting the important tuition.

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