Parents or partners who are able to provide the opportunity for private practice can be a massive help to the learner driver as well as the instructor. The closer that you can mirror what the professional instructor does the more likely that success will be achieved. If you are a willing driver able to help give experience to a learner, the following information will help you.

The DSA recommend at least 20 hours of additional private practice if possible.

First things first

Before going out with a learner driver,you must make sure that you meet the minimum licence requirements.You are over the age of 21 and have held a full driving licence (for the type of vehicle that you are using) for a minimum of 3 years.

You must also remember that you are not just a passenger,but a supervisor with a legal responsibility to your driver and other road users. Please check that you have advised your insurance company of your intentions and that you have fixed “L”plates to the car.

Route Planning

Route planning is essential in the early stages of learning and if these are poorly planned then it can lead to the learner making mistakes and becoming frustrated. This often leads to arguments with the person you are teaching and possibly other drivers. Inappropriate routes can often lead to a loss in confidence and can cause learning to be slow.

One step at a time

If you find that your learner is stalling quite a lot when emerging from junctions or in traffic,the likely cause is insufficient practice in quieter areas with less pressure. Busy traffic is best avoided ,such as at school times and rush hour until confidence is gained. You may think that its good to cover as much as possible in the early stages,but this can lead to problems later on in training.

Make sure the basic skills and foundations are in place and success will follow.Check with your driving instructor that your planned route will be suitable.

Talking sense

The choice of words will have a big impact on the way your learner responds.Try to be precise with your instructions;such as “slow down” – tell them how much to “slow down” and what speed you are looking for 20mph for example.Tell them to keep a safe distance from the car in front – tell them to keep 2/3 car lengths apart so they have something to measure.

You must bear in mind that actions that you take for granted can be quite difficult for a learner to understand and if you become short tempered and snappy this will make them feel demoralised.When mistakes have been made instead of telling them what they did wrong,tell them what they need to do next time to get it correct. When success is achieved tell them how good they were and this will help build their confidence and lead to learning faster.

Too fast

When starting to learn to drive, learners try to do everything too fast. I am not talking about driving in excess of the speed limit, but not leaving enough time to get things right. Emerging at junctions are a good example,certainly to begin with the approach speed has got to be no more than an old persons walking pace. It is much better to do it slow and succeed then to rush and make mistakes.As confidence and knowledge improves then a progression to a more suitable speed can be introduced.

As a supervising driver you must be familiar with the basic mirror,signal,manoeuvre process including position, speed and gear. MSPSL -driving routine. This process is fundamental to driving and if not followed can cause difficulties later. On occasions, we can spend some time correcting what Mum or Dad has said and this can cause confusion,(hence the reason for this guide) So please ask for any guidance you may need,because driving methods have changed somewhat over the years.

Finally,please accept that learners will not respond as quickly as you might think to some situations and you will need to be patience.

Good luck!

Jeremy Pollard