Young learner driver with adult sitting next to him

It can be hugely beneficial for learner drivers to receive additional driving experience from friends or family members. But it’s important that you know who can legally sit next to a learner driver as failure to follow the rules, can result in the learner driver being fined up to £1000 and getting up to 6 penalty points on their provisional licence.

Who Can Sit Next to a Learner Driver?

The rules for supervising a learner driver are as follows:

  • Be 21 years of age or over
  • Be fully licensed and qualified to drive the type of vehicle that they’re supervising
  • To have held their full driving licence for 3 or more years (from countries in the EU/EEA)
  • Meet the minimum eyesight requirements for driving

It’s the learner driver’s responsibility to ensure that L plates are displayed, that the car is in a good and road legal condition and that they have suitable learner driver insurance. Now let’s answer some other frequently asked questions on the rules for supervising a learner driver and the responsibilities for learner drivers.

Does the Supervising Driver have to Sit in the Front?

There’s no specific rule that states the supervising driver must sit in the front of the car, but by sitting in the front, it will provide the supervising driver a better view of the road and the ability to take control of the steering wheel if necessary.

Does a Supervising Driver need Insurance?

No, it’s only a legal requirement that the learner driver has appropriate insurance. Although by law the supervising driver does not need car insurance, it’s recommended that they have a policy that covers them to drive the vehicle, just in case they need to take control at any time.

Can the Supervising Driver use a Mobile Phone?

In the UK, it’s illegal for a driving instructor to use their phone while supervising a learner driver. Equally, it’s also illegal for family members or friends that are supervising the learner driver to use their phone while the learner is driving.

It is of course important that the attention of the supervising driver is focused on the road rather than their mobile device. Supervising drivers caught using their mobile phones whilst on a driving lesson can be fined £200 and receive 6 penalty points on their licence.

Learner Driver Caught Speeding, who gets the Points?

Ultimately it’s the learner driver’s responsibility to not break any traffic laws and if caught speeding, it’s the learner driver who pays a fine and penalty points will go onto the learner’s licence.

Learner Driver Not Displaying L Plates

It’s a legal requirement for a learner driver to display L plates; one on the front and one on the rear of the car while driving. A learner driver who’s caught driving without L plates comes under the offence of ‘driving not in accordance with your licence’ and can see the learner driver receive up to 6 penalty points on their licence.

Can a Learner Driver Drive Alone?

No, it’s illegal for a learner to drive alone as they must always be accompanied by a supervising passenger that’s at least 21 years old and has held a full licence for the type of vehicle that they are supervising in for 3 or more years.

If a learner driver is caught driving alone or if the supervising driver is legally unsuitable for the purpose of supervision, penalty points and a fine will be issued to the learner driver.

A learner driver who’s caught driving alone will usually receive 6 penalty points on their licence. These points, if still valid will then pass over to their full licence when they pass the test. New drivers have a probationary period of 2 years in which they face losing their licence in they accumulate 6 or more penalty points during this period. If the offence occurred before the probationary period began, it’s unlikely their full licence will be revoked.

Can a Learner Driver Drive on a Motorway?

Learner drivers can only drive on motorways when being supervised by a fully qualified driving instructor (ADI) and in a car that’s fitted with dual controls.

Can a Supervising Driver Drink Alcohol?

Providing that the supervising driver remains below the drink drive limit, then yes a supervising driver can drink alcohol. However, it is of course highly recommended that those in such a responsible position as supervising a learner driver should refrain from consuming any alcohol at all.

Can Learner Drivers Drive at Night?

Yes, learner drivers can drive at night. There are talks to consider restricting new drivers who’ve just passed their test from driving at night due to the high rate of accidents.

For learner drivers however, it’s recommended that you take driving lessons during both the daytime and during the hours of darkness as it adds to driving experience.

Can Learner Drivers Listen to Music?

There’s not a specific law that prevents a learner driver from listening to music. However, it is a from of distracted driving, especially if the music is loud. It’s recommended that learner drivers do not listen to music and concentrate on learning to drive.

Can a Learner Driver Carry Passengers?

Yes, there’s no law that prohibits learner drivers from carrying passengers. There are proposals being made to limit the amount of passengers that new, full licence holders can carry, but for learners, they can carry as many passengers as the vehicle can legally hold, providing it includes a supervising passenger.

Can a Learner Driver Carry Child Passengers?

Yes, a learner driver can carry child passengers on the rear seats as the supervising driver must be seated in the front. However, it is the responsibility of the driver to follow the law when carrying child passengers under the age of 14. As the driver, you must ensure that children up to the age of 12, or shorter than 138 cm are using the correct car seats and that children under the age of 14 who do not require a child seat, must be wearing a seat belt.

You should also consider that young children can be a source of distraction. This in itself can be valuable experience for a learner driver, but perhaps not best suited to drivers at an early stage of learning.

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