Before gaining the freedom of the open road to drive your own car when and where you want, you need to pass your driving test.
That means that you need plenty of driving practice to prepare yourself for the practical part of the test, with an examiner in the car alongside you.
The typical way of gaining the experience, skills and knowledge you need to drive a car safely and considerately is to take formal driving lessons – preferably with a qualified instructor, who has passed the three-stage series of tests to gain official recognition by the Driving Standards Agency.
Lessons may be given in a driving school car – typically fitted with the safety of dual controls – in which you are also able to take your driving test. If you are happy to forego the reassurance of dual controls, however, you might also elect to have driving lessons in your own car outside of your driving lessons so you can build up your confidence and driving experience.
Practise your driving
There are no standard number of hours of driving lessons before taking your test – the number depends on your own aptitude, dedication and speed of learning. The Driving Standards Agency (DSA), however, suggests that an average of 22 hours of private practice in your own car are generally necessary.
However many driving lessons you need – or are able to afford – there is no doubt that regular practice driving in between lessons is likely to increase your confidence and chances of passing the driving test first time.
That is why practising driving in your own (or borrowed) car outside of your driving lessons may make sense.
So, what do you need to consider before starting your own private practice?
Who will be practising with you?
The person who does your private practice with you can be anyone who:
- is aged 21 or over;
- has held a full licence for at least 3 years;
- is not receiving payment for supervising you;
- is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or using a mobile phone.
Ideally, this should be someone without driving convictions (so you don’t learn bad habits!) and who has lots of experience, for example mum or dad.
Whilst you are taking lessons in a car provided by any reputable driving school, you are covered by the school’s own motor insurance.
When you are driving your own car – whether during formal driving lessons or in private practice – you need to arrange your own provisional licence motor insurance.
- if you are driving under the supervision of a driving instructor, his own motor insurance is likely to provide at least third party cover in the event of the instructor having to take over driving in an emergency.
- if you are driving a car owned by a friend or member of the family, you might want to consider special short term provisional licence insurance so that you are covered independently of their own motor insurance – to ensure that you do not have to claim on their insurance and lose them their no claims discount as a result.
Talk to your driving instructor
Tell your driving instructor what you are planning to do and ask them for tips on what areas of your practice you need to focus on. Also ask if your practising partner can sit in on one of your lessons with you, so they can get a better feel for any of your strong or weak driving points.
Check your car
There is just one more thing you need to before you hit the open road – make sure the car you will be driving is suitable.
It must be fully taxed and hold an up to date MOT, as well as having learner plates fitted to the front and back of the car.
You also need to check the vehicle over. Not only does this make sense from a safety point of view, but does form part of your driving test. This will include checking:
- Fuel type
- Tyre tread
- Oil, coolant and windscreen wash levels
- Windscreen wipers
- And so on.
This article gives more in depth car checking tips.
We hope this article given you some useful ideas on how to legally and safely practice learning to drive in your own car. Happy Motoring!