Your Questions and Stories
Commonly Asked Questions
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Q: Can learner drivers carry passengers while on private practice?
A: Yes, learner drivers can carry passengers whilst on private practice, provided that the learner is being supervised by someone who is at least 21 years old, has a full, valid driving licence and has held that licence for at least 3 years. The number of passengers depends on the number of seats in the vehicle, so for a normal car, a learner can have up to 3 passengers in the rear plus the supervising driver in the front passenger seat.
However, passengers can be distracting, especially for a learner driver. So we suggest that learners do not carry passengers (except the supervising driver, of course) while practising until they, and the supervising driver, think that they have gained sufficient driving experience. If the learner is also taking professional lessons, we suggest they also ask the instructor if s/he thinks the learner is ready to take passengers.
If any of the passengers are under 12 years old or 135 cm tall, they must be carried in a suitable child seat – not just the car’s seat belt. For advice on child car seats see www.childcarseats.org.uk. Passengers over this age or height should, of course, wear seat belts.
Q: If I am a supervising driver will my licence be affected if the learner breaks road traffic laws?
A: The supervising driver is judged to be ‘in charge’ of the vehicle, but if the learner driver committed a motoring offence, it is the learner's licence that would suffer. For example, if a learner driver exceeded the speed limit, they would have their licence endorsed and have to pay a fine, not the supervising driver. However, it's possible that action could be taken against the supervising driver if they were being negligent (for example, by encouraging the learner to misbehave, not spotting something very obvious or not paying attention).
Some of the laws that apply to drivers apply just as much to the supervisor. For example, it would be illegal for a supervising driver to use a hand-held mobile phone, or to be over the drink drive limit, while supervising a learner, even though they were not actually driving.
The role of the supervising driver is not just to sit there while the learner practises, but to help the learner to make safe and responsible decisions while driving. Supervising drivers should ensure that their learner fully understands the traffic laws before taking them on the roads.
Q: I bought a CD disc to study the theory and hazard perception (HP) test. I’m a bit concerned by the hazard perception part. I can see hazards up ahead well in advance and click when I'm quite far away, this scores zero. My driving instructor says make sure and wait a second then click just in case. If I wait and click then I'd almost be on top of the hazard! I'm concerned if this happens on my theory test day I will fail when I've clearly seen the hazard way in advance!
A: The Hazard perception test can seem daunting at first. The aim of the HP test is to teach learner drivers to scan the road, recognise at the first opportunity from the road environment that a hazard is developing, and adopt a driving plan to reduce the risk. To score highly on the HP test you need to correctly identify the developing hazard and respond in the early stages of its development. Consider a parked car at the side of the road. When you first see it nothing is happening; it causes no risk and you should not respond. As you get closer the indicator is switched on suggesting the driver is intending to pull away. The car is now a developing hazard rather than a potential hazard and you should respond. Another response would be required if the car started to actually move away from the curb. So remember to complete the HP test successfully you need to ensure that you respond quickly but not until the hazard is developing.
Q: I would like to know once you have passed your test is it compulsory that you must display green P plates for 2 years?
A: It is not compulsory to display the green P plates. It is advisable that you do display them to inform other drivers that you have just passed your test; hopefully they will give you more room and time to manoeuvre.
Q: I am 28 years old and have just been to my third driving lesson I am finding the whole thing quite daunting. Is it normal to feel this way and is it more difficult to learn to drive the older you get?
A: It is often daunting at first when learning to drive, but you can learn at any time during your life. Your driving instructor should be able to help you if you are feeling nervous and always speak to him or her about your concerns. You could try choosing a driving instructor that has extensive experience of teaching older or anxious learners, who will provide a more sympathetic learning environment.
Q: Can I keep the L plates on my car all the time or do I have to remove them when my son, who is learning to drive, has finished his lesson?
A: The Highway Code states that L Plates "should be removed or covered when not being driven by a learner (except on driving school vehicles)". This is because L plates are designed to show that the vehicle is being driven by a learner driver so that other drivers can be aware that the driver may be a bit more hesitant than they would otherwise expect, or more likely to make mistakes. This enables other drivers to (hopefully) be a little more patient. Although, it is not an offence to leave L Plates showing when the vehicle is being driven by a fully licensed driver, it can mis-lead everyone else. If it became very commonplace, it would also mean that L Plates would no longer signify learner drivers and so they would lose the benefits of displaying the L plates. Therefore, L plates should be removed when the vehicle is being driven by a fully licensed driver.
Q: I want to start learning to ride what sort of bike can I ride?
A: The type of bike that you can ride is entirely dependent on age. Learners who are under 21 cannot ride a motorcycle more powerful than 125cc. Those under 21 will be eligible to ride more powerful bikes after two years of holding the full motorcycle licence. Those learners over 21 have the same choices as those under 21 but can also ride more powerful bikes as well.
Q: Does my son have to have an L plate on both front and back of his 50cc scooter? He is 16yrs and has passed the CBT test.
A: A learner rider must continue to display L plates, both front and rear, after passing the CBT test. This test is not the final test that learner riders must take. They must complete a theory test and a riding test before they can remove the plates.
Q: I have held a full motorcycle licence since 1984 could I be a pillion passenger for a learner rider?
A: A learner rider cannot carry a pillion passenger. Pillion passengers can only be carried once the full motorcycle licence has been obtained. However, private practice is a good way of building upon the experience that a learner rider picks up during professional lessons. Unlike car drivers learner riders can and do ride on their own without supervision. This is to be encouraged because they need to get plenty of experience of riding over different routes and under different conditions. However, it should be co-ordinated with the learner's professional lessons (they are not a replacement for lessons). Talk with the learner's instructor regularly to make sure the practice and the lessons are co-ordinated.
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