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Supervising a learner driver

Learner drivers must be supervised at all times. If you’re thinking of supervising a learner driver, here’s what to think about to stay safe and legal on the roads.

Learner drivers must be supervised at all times. If you’re thinking of supervising a learner driver, here’s what to think about to stay safe and legal on the roads.

Written by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
21 OCTOBER 2022
5 min read
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Who can supervise a learner driver?

Learner drivers can practise driving with friends or family members, but only if the supervising driver:

  • Is over 21 years old (some insurance providers require them to be over 25)
  • Is qualified to drive the same type of vehicle. For example, learners wanting to drive a manual car will need to be supervised by someone with a manual driving licence
  • Has held their full, valid driving licence (from the UK, EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein) for at least three years.

Can a learner driver have passengers?

Yes, if the passengers are brave enough! Learner drivers can carry as many passengers as the car can legally hold. However, the driver in the front passenger seat must meet the requirements to supervise the learner while they’re behind the wheel.

Can a learner driver carry child passengers?

As long as the supervising driver ticks the legal boxes, there are no restrictions on the age of other passengers in the vehicle. Remember, if children are under 135cm tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first, by law they’ll need an appropriate child seat.

It might be worth avoiding carrying passengers, however, as they can be a distraction. 

Can a learner driver drive at night?

Yes. Learner drivers can practise at any time of day, as long as they’re properly supervised by a person who fits the criteria.

Can I supervise a learner on the motorway?

No, learner drivers are only allowed to drive on motorways with an approved instructor and in a car with dual controls.

Motorway driving isn’t currently part of the UK driving test, but learners can choose to have motorway lessons with an approved driving instructor if they want to. The rule allowing learners to drive on the motorway was introduced in 2018 and is designed to give learners broader driving experience, a chance to practise driving at higher speeds and improve confidence.

Can I use a mobile phone while supervising a learner driver?

No. Under UK law, anyone supervising a learner driver needs to have their full attention on the road – exactly as they would if they were driving themselves – and the learner driver. 

If you’re caught using a hand-held mobile while supervising a learner, you could receive six points on your licence and a £200 fine – the same penalty you’d receive if you were driving.

Insurance for learner drivers

Learner drivers who want to practise outside of lessons must be insured for the vehicle they want to practice in.

There are three main options for insuring learner drivers:

  • To practise driving in a car you own, the learner will need to have their own insurance policy. Your supervising driver will usually be covered by this but check your policy to make sure.
  • To practise in a car owned by someone else, the learner will need to be added to the car owner’s insurance policy, as an additional named driver.
  • Learner drivers can also get provisional insurance on a temporary basis. This allows them to practice in someone else’s car for a temporary period.

Some insurance providers will ask that your supervising driver is over 25 years old. 

Where can I buy insurance for a learner driver?

You can compare insurance quotes for learner drivers from a range of UK insurance providers, right here at Comparethemarket.

Start comparing insurance quotes today, to find a deal that’s right for you.

Tips for supervising drivers

Here are some tips if you’re planning on supervising a learner driver:

  • Make sure L plates (or D plates in Wales) are visible on the front and back of the car.
  • Consider taking a driver assessment or advanced driving course to refresh your skills and avoid teaching bad habits. 
  • Brush up on the latest version of The Highway Code. New rules for 2022 introduced a new hierarchy of road users that every driver should know. Pedestrians are at the top, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists as they need most protection. 
  • Turn off your mobile phone or leave it stored in the glove box.
  • You might want to invest in a rear-view mirror for the passenger side of the car to easily check on the road behind you.
  • Plan your route in advance to find quieter roads to practise on if the learner is particularly inexperienced or nervous. 
  • Advise the learner to take lessons with a professional instructor first.
  • And finally, be patient.

Frequently asked question

Does a supervising driver need to sit in the front?

Supervising drivers are deemed to be in control of the vehicle – the best way to do this is from the front seat where you can take control of the car more easily if needed.

What are the penalties for driving without the right supervision?

If a learner is caught driving without the right supervision, they can be fined up to £1,000 and receive up to six penalty points on their provisional licence. 

Can a supervising driver be under the influence of drink?

No. The same drink driving rules apply to supervising drivers as those behind the steering wheel. Although you could technically have a small amount of alcohol, it’s best to avoid it altogether to stay sharp if you need to intervene and take control of the car at short notice.  

Is the maximum speed limit different for learner drivers?

In England, Wales and Scotland, learner drivers must stick to the same speed limits as fully licenced drivers. Learners in Northern Ireland are limited to a maximum of 45mph. 

Will I receive a fine as a supervising driver?

That depends on the police force dealing with the offence. If a learner commits an offence, it doesn’t automatically mean the supervising driver will be charged. 

Do I need to wear glasses while supervising a learner?

If you normally wear glasses to drive, you’ll need to wear them when supervising a learner driver. You should be able to read a number plate made after September 2001 from 20 metres away. 

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