Private Practice with a Learner Driver

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Private Practice

It’s a brilliant way To Gain Experience!

Private practice is a good way of augmenting the experience that a learner driver gains through lessons with a professional ADI (Approved Driving Instructor). Experience shows that most learner drivers really benefit from the additional practice sessions.

Private practice is not a replacement for lessons and ideally, parents need to speak regularly with the instructor to ensure the practice and the lessons are co-ordinated.

By taking a structured approach to their private practice sessions, you will help to build up the learner driver’s awareness and planning abilities. Increased awareness and forward planning can reduce the risk of being involved in an accident once they pass their test and are able to drive unsupervised.

Next we’ll look at how you and the learner need to prepare for those practice sessions – the do’s and don’ts, the records you should keep and the way the sessions will be  “interwoven” with professional lessons

Before you arrange any practice sessions:-

Is The Learner Ready?

Before considering practice lessons, you need to make sure the learner has a working knowledge of the basic car control skills and a skill such as the emergency (Controlled) stop.

Wait until they’ve had some lessons with a professional Instructor in a dual-controlled car, then speak to their instructor to find out his/her views on whether they are ready to start private practice sessions.

You make sure that both you and the learner meet the necessary legal requirements – for example:

The Learner must:

  • Hold a valid provisional      driving licence.
  • Be insured to drive the      vehicle in which they intend to practice.
  • Be able to meet the legal      minimum eyesight requirements, (20.5 metres in good visibility)
  • Make sure he/she only drives      whilst supervised and that the car displays L Plates to the front and rear      of the vehicle (can be D Plates in Wales).

Are You Ready ?

The supervising driver must

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have held a full driving      licence for a minimum of three years for the type of vehicle in which they      are supervising (e.g. manual or automatic)
  • Make sure the car is in a      safe, roadworthy and legal condition, is taxed, Insured and holds a      current valid MOT certificate.
  • Be able to meet the legal minimum eyesight requirements, (20.5 metres in good visibility)
  • Make sure that the car displays L Plates to the front and rear of the vehicle (can be D Plates in Wales).

We mentioned the importance of co-ordinating private practice with the learner’s professional lessons. For these reasons, your own knowledge needs to be up to date, so you are only reiterating what the Instructor says and you are therefore reducing the risk of passing on outdated techniques and practices; you will also minimise the number of bad habits your learner picks up.

Why not ask the ADI about a short Refresher Course; most Instructors will oblige and then you will, as they say, be singing from the same hymn sheet.

For advice on Refresher Courses, and advanced training courses, please visit:

Make sure that you are familiar with the latest Highway Code – you can check out the latest edition by following –


Make Sure the Car is ready too!

As stated above car must be in a legal and safe condition;

Involve the learner in some basic car-checks:

Are the lights working properly?,

Do the tyres have the legal tread depth and are in a safe condition, without cuts or bulges in the sidewalls?, Are the windows clean?

Is there sufficient oil?, Engine Coolant and windscreen wash solution?)

These checks help them to know how to keep the car in a good, safe and legal condition and in any case, the learner needs to be familiar with such checks (and more) when asked the two “Show Me/ Tell Me” questions at the beginning of their driving test
A good idea is to buy a suction-type interior rear-view mirror for your side of the car. This will help you to see following vehicles from your passenger seat.

Make sure when fitting it, that is doesn’t interfere with the operation of any of the airbags; your ADI or alternatively your local dealer would advise you on this.

Keep Records

During the learning period, it is helpful to keep a log book of your learner’s development. There publications from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) which can help you do this, ‘The Official Guide to Accompanying L Drivers’ is a prime example and can be purchased from your local larger bookshop; you should also ask the Driving Instructor to provide a “Private Practice “ document – failing that you can visit

A long URL but worth the trip to download the DSA Pupil Practice Doc.

Decide What You Want To Work On During The Practice

The aim of private practice is to give the learner more experience in dealing with the situations they have been introduced to in their professional lessons.

Before you take a learner driver out on a private practice drive, decide on the skills that you want to focus on. These could be things that the learner wants to practice in order to gain more confidence, or areas that the instructor has said need improving.

Ideal times to Practice

During the earlier stages of learning to drive, it’s perhaps better to limit practice to quiet estate roads, ideally similar to where the lessons have or are being carried out.

The same rule applies to the improving learner who has trained and should therefore practice, in a busier traffic environment –but in all cases both learner and supervising driver should establish confidence levels before planning any practice.

Take advice by means of regular discussions with your ADI (with the pupil’s agreement of course) and as above, you should observe the points highlighted for practice, by the ADI.

Private practice with a family member can be extremely useful but is also an ideal time for the learner to adopt undesirable habits, which have then got to be undone by the Instructor.

Lack of mirror-checks, coasting, dry steering and hand-over-hand steering are typical and should be discouraged in favour of the methods taught by the Instructor; again an effective co-operation between ADI – Learner and Supervising Driver can go a long way to assure standards are maintained between lessons.

Practice between lessons means there is actually a small team, working in tandem to produce a development in the pupil, with each having an interest in producing a safer driver, NOT just to produce the skills to survive a 40 minute driving test.

Hopefully, with attention paid to their Instructor and the relevant skills then practiced, the young driver will develop an attitude towards “safe driving for life;”

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