Private Practise

Practising outside of your driving lessons is important in your journey to becoming a safe independent driver. You must do it safely and legally. Below is my guide to private practise with a family member or a friend. You can greatly improve your chances of passing your driving test by getting some additional hours behind the wheel, the more the better! Driving in all weather and light conditions with a good mix of road types will really develop your driving skills.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE JANUARY 2021: In England, you can only practise with someone from your own household during the lockdown

Before you can do this there are some important step to take;

The Practise Vehicle

L plates private practise

You can practise in any vehicle you wish but it is recommended that you use a vehicle similar to the one you are learning in with your driving instructor. You must:

  • Clearly display ‘L’ plates in the front and rear of your vehicle and remove them when you are not driving. Some learner drivers buy their own car before they pass their test while others practise using their parents or friends car.
  • Ensure the car is Taxed and MoT’d
  • Ensure you have a valid Provisional Licence

I recommend you buy an internal mirror for the supervising driver to use.

Move any distractions such as fluffy dice or bags that could move around the car when you’re driving.

Turn the radio/music down or off completely (some people concentrate better with some background music).

Your accompanying supervising driver

Anyone you practise your driving with (without paying them) must:

-Be over 21
-Be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn ins for example, they must have a manual car licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car
-Have had their full driving licence for 3 years or more.
Please be aware that it is illegal for your accompanying driver to use a mobile phone while supervising a learner. This is also the case for your driving instructor.

Move any distractions such as fluffy dice or bags that could move around the car when you’re driving.

Turn the radio/music down or off completely (some people concentrate better with some background music).

Safety

Make use of the practise time. Plan your journey and practise what you have been learning in your driving lessons. Try not to learn anything new or ask you accompanying driver to teach you anything new. Use the practise time to re-enforce what you have learned in your driving lessons and build upon those skills.
Often, having a family member or friend teach you something new can contradict what your driving instructor has been teaching you and can lead to a heated atmosphere in the car with your friend or family. This in turn can lead to putting yourself and others in safety critical/dangerous situations that you may not be able to handle or get out of.

Recording your practise

Just like your driving lessons, recording your progress in your private practise is a good way of tracking how well you are doing. It will help your driving instructor better understand your progress.
Record when you have been driving in different times of the day, different weather conditions, different types of roads and various road conditions. ​

Download a copy of the official DVSA private practise record here

8 Tips to get the best from your private practice sessions

  1. Who to ask? Ask a family member or friend that feels at ease helping you – nervous drivers are probably not the best people.
  2. Know your car. Familiarise yourself with your car – get a feel for the clutch and brakes in a quiet area first. Make sure you know how to turn on the lights, signals, window wipers!
  3. Plan the route. Start with areas you are BOTH familiar with and you know you can cope with. Plan what types of road you will be using and make sure you have covered them in lessons. Remember you are PRACTISING skills you have already learnt. Avoid trying to learn new topics before you have covered them in lesson.
  4. How long? Start with short trips of around 20 minutes, then build up to longer trips as your confidence grows.
  5. Use the System. Always drive to the MSPSL system and you will develop good habits to last a life time.
  6. Avoid distractions. Youneedtobe able to concentrate. Filling the car with family members is not a good idea, we’ve all heard of back seat drivers. Concentrate and stay focused.
  7. Dealing with conflict. Driving can be stressful and shouting at each other will not help. If you do find yourself feeling upset or frustrated during a drive, find somewhere safe to stop, and talk.
  8. Keep a record. Each time you take a trip, log it on the Private Practice Log and be sure to reflect on what went well and what you need to work on.

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