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Learning to drive in a family car

Rebecca Goodman
Written by  Rebecca Goodman
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
Updated: 22 Aug 2023

If a parent is happy to take you out for some driving practice it can really help to build up your confidence and experience of driving, and could see you passing your test sooner. But before you set off, there are some learner driver rules you need to follow.  

Should you learn to drive with your parent or a friend?  

Learning in a parent or friend’s car can cut down the number of lessons you need with a qualified instructor, saving you time and money. Yet it needs careful consideration and you both need to be happy with the arrangement.   

The pros of learning in a parent’s car 

  • You’ll save money if you’re not paying an instructor 

  • It’s more flexible as you can go out whenever you’re both free 

  • The experience might be less stressful for you if you’re learning with a parent 

The cons of learning in a parent’s car 

  • There won’t be dual controls in the car 

  • If there’s an accident when you’re driving it will impact your parent’s insurance 

  • It will only work if you both get on as it can be a tense experience  

Should you learn to drive with a professional instructor?

Most people use a professional instructor when they learn to drive. If you’re able to go out with a parent as well, this can give you more hours of experience of driving and can help you pass your test faster. If you’re deciding whether to pay an instructor or not, you’ll want to look at the pros and cons of each option first.  

The pros of using a professional instructor  

  • The instructor is qualified to teach learner drivers and will be used to lots of different driving situations 

  • They will know what is likely to come up in the driving test 

  • They will be up-to-date with the latest driving rules 

  • The car has dual controls and will be insured 

The cons of using a professional instructor  

  • Driving lessons are expensive 

  • There’s less flexibility over when you can go out in the car 

  • It may take longer to learn if you’re only having one lesson a week, instead of going out more regularly with a parent or friend in their car 

What are the legal requirements when learning to drive in someone else's car 

There are certain legal requirements you must follow if you are learning to drive in someone else's car and the driver must:  

You can practice driving with your provisional licence in any type of car, but it must follow the rules. The car must:  

  • have L plates (D plates in Wales) on the front and back of the car (but make sure you remove these when anyone else is driving the car). 

  • be taxed and have an up-to-date MOT 

  • be safe and roadworthy 

  • be registered with the DVLA 

  • have an extra rear-view mirror  

What are the legal requirements when someone is learning to drive in your car  

Most people are allowed to sit with a learner driver when they are practicing to drive. However, there are rules around this too and the person must:  

  • be aged 21 or over 

  • be qualified to drive the vehicle 

  • have had their full licence for at least three years 

  • not use their mobile phone while they are supervising the learner 

  • know and be able to apply the rules in the Highway Code  

If these rules aren’t followed, the learner could be fined £1,000 and receive six penalty points on their provisional driving licence.    

How to teach someone to drive  

If you’re taking your child or a friend out in your car, there are lots of things you can both do in advance to make the experience less stressful. The aim of taking them out is to give them more practice and experience of driving and the more prepared you both are, the better the drive will be.  

You should have a conversation in advance to talk about what roads the learner wants to drive on, where they feel comfortable, and places where they may feel stressed or anxious. Before you head out, think about where and when you’re going to go, which manoeuvres to practice and what the weather conditions are expected to be.  

When you are on the drive, you’ll need to make sure you’re following these rules: 

  • you must not hold and use a mobile phone, sat nav or tables 

  • your alcohol level can’t be above the legal limit and you must not be under the influence of drugs or medication 

  • the learner can’t drive on a motorway without an approved instructor in a car with dual controls 

The learner drive is allowed to have passengers in the car with them and they are responsible for making sure anyone under the age of 14 has a seat belt on. 

Insurance for learner drivers on a parent’s car  

Insurance is important for learner drivers and there are a few different options for cover.  It protects the driver, the vehicle, and also other people on the road and it’s a legal requirement.  

Do I need insurance to learn to drive in my parent’s car?  

Yes, you need insurance to learn to drive in a parent’s car as this is a legal requirement in the UK. Whatever type of driving licence you have, whether it’s a provisional licence if you’re learning to drive or full licence if you’ve passed, you can’t drive if you do not have car insurance in place.    

What insurance do I need to learn to drive in my parent’s car?  

A learner driver can be added as a named driver to their parent’s car insurance policy, they can take out their own learner driver policy, or they could take out a short-term or temporary car insurance policy.  

Being a named driver on a parent’s policy  

You can be added as a named drive on a parent’s car insurance policy if you occasionally use their car. This can be a great way of cutting down your insurance costs as it’s often a cheaper way to buy cover than taking out your own policy.   

However, you can only do this is the main driver (your parent) drives the car for the majority of the time. If you are added as a named driver but you are using the car more than your parent, this is called fronting and it is illegal.  

If you do have an accident as a named driver, your parent will need to make the claim and it will affect their insurance and their no-claims bonus.  

Taking out your own car insurance

You could buy your own learner driver car insurance policy to cover you when you are driving someone else’s car. You’ll be able to drive any other cars with your own policy, as long as the rules are followed.  

This is usually more expensive than being a named driver but it means you parent’s insurance won’t be impacted if you do have an accident.   

Buying short-term or temporary car insurance  

If you only need cover for a short period, such as for the month before your driving test, then temporary or short-term insurance is an option. This could be a cheaper option than taking out your own policy which will be priced on a yearly basis.  

How to record your private practice

After each learning session with a parent or friend, you should write down what you’ve practiced. You can then show this to your instructor so they know what extra experience you’ve had. You can print off a free driving record from the website or you can fill in this form online.  

What to do after you pass your driving test  

Congratulations, you’ve passed your driving test! All the hard work paid off and you will now need to get your full UK licence sorted. Before you head out, you also need to make sure you have the right cover in place with new driver car insurance.