Can a Learner Driver Have Passengers?

The answer is yes, so long as the correct rules are followed. Learning to drive is a complicated process that raises lots of questions, such as how many lessons you should take or how much …

A learner driver leaning out of the window

The answer is yes, so long as the correct rules are followed.

Learning to drive is a complicated process that raises lots of questions, such as how many lessons you should take or how much it costs to learn. One of the most common queries people have before getting behind the wheel is whether you can have passengers in the car with you while you’re learning. You may want a friend or family member to take you out for some unofficial lessons to keep the cost of learning down, for example.

Let’s look into this in more detail and see whether it’s okay to have passengers while learning to drive a car.

Are learner driver passengers allowed?

Yes, it is permitted to have passengers when you’re learning to drive. Not only is it allowed, it’s actually a legal requirement that learner drivers are supervised by someone. This means that you can get friends or family to supervise you when you learning to drive. While it is okay to have other people in the car with you while you practise, there are a few conditions that have to be met.

Who can sit in with a learner driver?

Unfortunately, not just anyone can sit in with you while you’re learning to drive a car, so let’s take a look at the conditions.

Rules for supervising driver:

  1. Supervisor must be at least 21 years old
  2. Supervisor must be qualified to drive the type of car you’re in — if you’re learning to drive a manual car, your supervisor must have a valid licence for a manual car
  3. Supervisor must have had their driving licence for 3 years — They must have got their licence in the UK, EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein
  4. Supervisor must not be serving a driving ban currently

These rules make sense since it’s important that learner drivers are supervised by someone who’s qualified to drive the type of vehicle they’re using.

And don’t forget, there are also conditions that the learner driver themselves must meet:

  1. The learner must have a valid UK provisional driving licence
  2. The learner must meet the minimum eyesight rules
  3. The learner must be at least 17 years old

There is an exception to the learner age restriction: anyone who gets the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is allowed to learn from the age of 16.

How many passengers can a learner driver have?

The requirements above apply to the person in the front passenger seat of the learner’s car, but there are no explicit rules for those in the back of the car. This means that as long as the car’s total capacity isn’t exceeded, learners can have any number of passengers.

Can learner drivers have child passengers?

Yes, as there’s no age limit for passengers in the rear seat of a learner driver’s car, as long as there is a supervisor in the front passenger seat. Rear seat passengers mustn’t distract the driver, for obvious reasons. As with a non-learner driver, it is the learner driver’s responsibility to ensure children below the age of 14 in the back of the car are wearing a seatbelt or using a child seat if necessary.

Are there any other rules?

Several other rules must be adhered to when learning to drive with a supervisor:

  1. It is illegal for the person supervising you to use their mobile phone, as they must be focused at all times on overseeing your driving.
  2. It is also against the law for you to drive on the motorway with friends or family — only an approved driving instructor is permitted to take you out on a motorway and only in a car with dual controls.
  3. Your supervisor is not allowed to accept any money from you, neither for their time nor for any petrol costs.

Other recommendations for those supervising a learner driver:

  1. Supervisors should have a good understanding of The Highway Code so that they can pass on that knowledge to the learner.
  2. The supervisor could ask the learner’s instructor to give them a brief lesson to avoid passing on any bad habits or outdated techniques.
  3. The supervisor could fit an extra rear-view mirror so they can see behind the car while supervising.

What about the car? The supervisor should check that the car meets these conditions:

  1. The car must have learner ‘L’ plates that are clearly visible so that other motorists are aware that a learner is driving. In Wales, ‘D’ plates are also an option. Be sure to check the size and format rules. These should be removed when anyone else is driving.
  2. The car must have valid road tax.
  3. The car must have a valid MOT.
  4. The car must be safe to drive.
  5. The car must be registered with the DVLA.

What happens if you break the rules?

If you break any of the rules outlined above and learn to drive with incorrect supervision, you could face a hefty fine and get penalty points on your provisional licence. The fine could be up to £1,000 and you could receive up to six penalty points, otherwise known as endorsements.

When you pass your test and get your full driving licence, these points will be carried over. If you get any more endorsements within the first two years of driving, your licence could be cancelled (if the total adds up to 6 or more). Penalty points can stay on your driving record for between 4 and 11 years, so it’s a good idea not to make a bad start and avoid getting penalties while you’re learning to drive.

What type of insurance do learners and supervisors need?

Both the learner driver and the supervisor need to have the correct insurance before heading out for a practice session. The type of insurance required depends on who owns the car:

  1. If the learner owns the car — The learner needs to take out an insurance policy as a learner driver and ensure the supervisor is covered by this.
  2. If the supervisor owns the car — The learner may be covered automatically if the supervisor’s insurance allows for learners, otherwise they’ll need to take out their own policy so they can drive the car as a learner.

Be aware that some insurance companies may require that the supervisor be at least 25 years of age.

The potential punishments for driving without the correct insurance are even more severe than breaking any of the other rules. You could get an unlimited fine, a driving ban, and up to 8 points on your licence. Check out Howden’s learner driver insurance to make sure you have the right cover.

Recap: Can a learner driver have passengers?

To summarise what we’ve learned, yes you can have passengers when you’re learning to drive

In fact, you must have at least one: a supervisor who’s qualified to drive the type of car you’re driving. Supervisors must have had a valid driving licence for at least three years and they can’t be serving a driving ban currently. They aren’t allowed to use mobile devices while supervising and are expected to have a good understanding of The Highway Code so they can pass knowledge on to the learner.

Learner drivers can also have other passengers of any age in the back seat, so long as the car’s capacity isn’t exceeded and everyone’s wearing their seatbelts.

Both the learner driver and supervising driver need to be insured, and the type of insurance will depend on who owns the car. If the supervisor owns the car, the learner may be automatically covered. If not, they’ll need to take out their own insurance.

Penalties for breaking any of the rules mentioned in this article can be severe, ranging from a £1,000 fine and 6 points up to an unlimited fine and a driving ban, so you must be aware of all the requirements and have the correct insurance.

When you’re ready to take the next step and pay for a qualified driving instructor, make sure they’re qualified and approved. They’ll need to display a badge to prove they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). It’s also a good idea to record the private practice you do so that you can show your instructor (you can download a form for this here).

Howden’s learner driver insurance has you covered as you embark on your first journey.

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