Learner Driver Rules

There are many learner driver rules. They are set out to keep the learner, other road users, the general public and anyone travelling with them safe, while at the same time giving them the ability to gain the necessary experience to pass their driving test. There are several things you need to know if you are a new learner driver or if you’re thinking about supervising a learner driver while they gain experience behind the wheel. This guide is designed to answer any questions you might have about:

  • The provisional licence
  • Learner plates
  • Insurance
  • Who can supervise you driving

The provisional licence

You can apply for a provisional driving licence when you’re 15 years and 9 months old, and begin driving from your 17th birthday. If you receive the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) you can begin driving at 16. A provisional licence enables you to drive everywhere, except on motorways, as long as you’re supervised by a suitable person (see ‘Supervising a learner driver’) and you display ‘L’ plates on the vehicle you’re driving.

Plates

You must put an L plate on the front and back of your vehicle so they can be seen easily. In Wales, you can use a D plate instead. These plates must have a red L or D on a white background and be a particular size – if it isn’t correct, you could receive up to six penalty points, which is a poor start to your driving career.

You can also display green ‘probationary’ ‘P’ plates to show that you’ve just passed your driving test, although this isn’t a legal requirement. Some newly qualified drivers do this to show their big achievement while others like to use them in order to ask other motorists to be patient with them. You can leave them on your vehicle for as long as you like.

The car, insurance and tax

Before you drive any vehicle, you must make sure that it’s roadworthy, as well as properly insured and taxed. You need your own learner driver insurance if you’re practicing in a car you own. If you learn in someone else’s car, make sure their insurance policy covers you as a learner driver. Some insurance companies require the person supervising you to be over 25 years old – read the policy’s terms and conditions carefully; otherwise you could face an unlimited fine, be banned from driving and get up to eight penalty points for driving without insurance.

Supervising a learner driver

You can learn to drive with a qualified driving instructor, who you will need to pay, or with friends and family that meet a set of criteria – they must be over 21 and have held a full driving licence for at least three years. It’s illegal for your friend or family member to use a mobile phone while supervising you.

You can drive with as many passengers as the vehicle can legally hold, although it may be distracting to have numerous people on board.

Find further information here on learner driver car insurance.