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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…

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…

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
24 AUGUST 2022
5 min read
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Can a friend teach me how to drive?

Yes, if you’re looking for someone else who can teach you to drive, you can ask a friend to sit with you as a learner driver. You can learn to drive with any driver provided:

  • they're 21 or over
  • they've held a full licence for at least three years  (check when they passed their test)
  • they're qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in

Can I learn to drive in my friend’s car? 

Yes, if they’re happy to lend it to you, you can learn to drive in a friend’s car. Make sure that their car is roadworthy, taxed and - very importantly - that they’ve added you as a learner driver on their insurance. 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.

Some car insurance providers will require the friend that’s supervising to be over 25 before they’ll cover you as a learner driver. If you’re learning to drive in a parent’s car, it’s a similar process.

To learn to drive in a friend or parent’s car, you’ll also need:

  • a provisional driving licence that 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 

If you’re learning to drive in a friend or parent’s car, you might also want to take your driving test in their car. Just be aware that the moment you pass your driving test you’re no longer a learner, so you won’t be insured to drive the car home. This means you’ll either need someone else to drive you home, or you buy a policy to cover you as a fully qualified driver.

What are the benefits of having a friend teach me to drive? 

There are several benefits of having your friend teach you to drive: 

  • Cost: a friend might teach you for free, while driving lessons with a professional instructor can cost £25+ an hour depending on where you live.
  • Comfort: you might feel more comfortable being taught by someone who knows you well, compared to a stranger.
  • Flexibility: as a friend, they might be more flexible in when they can teach you. A quick half hour here, a full two hours there, as well as evenings and weekends.
  • Time: if you’re practising with a friend alongside professional lessons, the extra practise could help you pass your test sooner, or give you more confidence during your test. You can record your private lesson hours to share with your driving instructor.

What are the benefits of using a driving instructor to learn to drive?

While a friend or family member might be much cheaper (or free!) compared to a driving instructor, there are definitely benefits to paying for a professional: 

  • Time: a trained instructor should help you learn quicker – they are professional instructors after all.
  • Driving standards: a qualified instructor will have been regularly assessed to ensure they offer a high standard of tuition. Importantly, they’ll also avoid teaching you any bad habits your friend may have picked up since they passed their test.
  • Knowledge: a driving instructor will know and teach you all the latest road rules. They’ll also structure your lessons to fit what will be in your test. Your friends’ knowledge might not be up to date.
  • Safety: driving school cars come with dual controls, allowing the instructor to step on the brakes if required.

Tips on how to teach a friend to drive 

If you’re the one supervising a learner driver, you might be wondering how to teach someone to drive. To help you, we’ve put together a ‘teaching someone to drive checklist’:

  • Check your car is roadworthy – you’re responsible for the vehicle being suitable to drive.
  • Refresh yourself on the Highway Code – it’s probably been a while since you last read this, and it’s likely there will have been several changes, so check you’re up to date with the latest rules and regulations to avoid providing your learner with incorrect information. 
  • Consider taking a driving lesson yourself – taking a professional lesson can sharpen your skills, update your knowledge, remove bad habits you may have picked up since passing your test, and help prevent passing on those bad habits. It can also remind you of what needs covering with your learner. Do not take your learner driver to practice on the motorway.
  • Speak to their professional instructor – if your learner friend is taking professional lessons, you might want to have a quick chat with their instructor to understand their strengths and weaknesses. This means you’ll be able to better support their learning.
  • Be alert – while supervising, your full attention must be on the road. Using your phone, smoking or playing loud music are all distractions for both you and the learner driver. More to the point, using a phone whilst supervising a learner is illegal.
  • Communicate – take the time before, during and after each lesson to talk to your learner about what they’ve been practising. This gives you the opportunity to offer extra support and offers them the chance to ask any questions.
  • Practise the different stages of the test – you can find a list of what’s included in the practical driving test. With this information, you can practise each stage and prepare them for the real thing.

What else do I need to keep in mind before I take my test? 

Before you take your practical driving test, you’ll have to study for the theory side of the test too. You can only take the practical test when you have a pass certificate for the theory part.

Remember to take everything you need for the practical test. You’ll need your theory test pass certificate, your photocard provisional licence and, of course, a car to take the test in that’s both taxed and insured.

How to decide between a friend or driving instructor teaching you to drive 

There are different benefits to learning from a friend or a professional driving instructor. This means that deciding between the two will largely depend on what’s important to you, and of course how good the friend is at teaching.

A great option would be to combine professional lessons with some top-up time with a friend or family member. This can offer the best of both worlds. It saves you money, with extra free experience on the road, while also benefitting from the knowledge and experience of a fully-qualified expert.

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