Learner drivers will be able to get behind the wheel with their driving instructor again from 4th July. Whilst many learners will be thrilled and chomping at the bit the get back to driving lessons, there will be some anxiety around what to expect, and about the safety, not to mention some nervousness about getting back in the driving seat after a break in driving.
Here’s a short guide as to what you may expect, although your driving school or instructor should be the first port of call for any formal advice on requirements and processes.
When can I start lessons with my instructor?
Whilst driving lessons can start from the 4th July, this doesn’t necessarily mean all driving schools and instructors will be setting off from the starting block on that date! Whilst many schools will have been preparing for this time, the official guidelines will only have been released at the end of June, so schools will want to ensure that they are confident and have all the PPE, measures and processes in place. Your instructor will be able to let you know when they are planning to re-start, and the process for booking lessons.
How quickly will my instructor be able to fit a lesson in for me?
Not every driving school will have the same approach, so it’s best to ask your driving instructor. Like hairdressers and dentists, instructors may wish prioritise those who had lessons cancelled during the lockdown period and may already have critical workers that are undertaking lessons.
Why not keep an eye on your inbox or your instructor’s website/social media channels for updates – or drop them a text or email to ask about the process for booking.
Before the driving lesson
Your driving school will have created their own new guidelines and processes to ensure the safety of instructors and pupils, which they will share with you ahead of lessons, and you would need to follow. We have briefly highlighted what you may expect ahead of your session:
- You will be asked if you, or anyone in the household, are shielding or experiencing any symptoms, or have had a positive test. If you answer yes to having a positive test or having experienced symptoms in the last 7 days or have been in contact with someone who has in the last 14 days, you will be asked to move the lesson until after you finish self-isolating. This assessment may be over the phone, or you may need to complete a form online or by email.
- In order to limit contact, your instructor is likely to encourage you to pay online, and if you are a new pupil is likely to check you have your provisional licence using an online tool, rather than asking you to bring it to the lesson.
- Prior to your lesson, the driving instructor will have been through a process of sanitising the car, paying particular attention to the touchpoints in the car (e.g. the steering wheel, gear stick, mirrors, indicators, controls, car keys, etc).
- On arrival, your instructor may take your temperature prior to you getting in the car. Again, if a temperature is detected or you are displaying symptoms, the lesson will be postponed. If you’re given the green light, you’ll be expected to have washed your hands and to use hand sanitiser before you get in the car.
- The driving instructor may wear a mask and is likely to ask you to wear one too (we’d advise being prepared and bring your own, but your instructor is likely to carry a couple of spares). Wearing a mask is not mandatory but is advised. People with health conditions, such as asthma, are exempt from this.
If you or anyone you are living with have any symptoms you must cancel the driving lesson before the start time. Lessons should only resume after following the Government isolation recommendations. This applies to the instructor as well as the pupil!
The lesson itself
For the most part, it should feel like a normal lesson, with a few adjustments that are there for everyone’s safety!
- We’re sure you already know this, but parents, guardians, or friends will not be able to sit in on the lesson.
- You’ll be asked to keep your phone and keys on your person rather than in the car side pocket, and if you have a bag, it is likely this will need to be kept in the boot until the lesson is complete.
- We hope you like fresh air! The car will need to be kept well ventilated during the lesson, meaning the windows will be kept open where possible. If you feel the cold, it may be worth bringing a jumper (or coat). Likewise, the use of air conditioning will be avoided where possible.
- It goes without saying that you will be looking straight ahead where you’re driving, but the lesson will be conducted with both of you facing forward unless, of course, there is an emergency where the instructor needs to lean across to help.
- If on rare occasions, the instructor does need to intervene to use your controls, the instructor will ask you to pull over at the earliest opportunity so that you can wipe over the controls and you can both sanitise hands.
- If you do need to sneeze or cough in the lesson, you’d be expected to do this into your elbow or sleeve (or a tissue if stationary) – in the opposite direction of the instructor. If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 during the lesson, the lesson may be terminated early for safety reasons.
After the lesson
We’re sure you’ll be breathing a huge sigh of relief when your first lesson after lockdown is over – and will already be excited about the next one!
- We’d advise you to wash your hands as soon as you can after the lesson, and if you develop symptoms and have a positive test for COVID-19 shortly after the lesson please ensure you pass on your instructor’s details to the Contact Tracing service.
- Your driving instructor is likely to have a busy diary – so if you’re not able to get lessons as frequently as you’d like, you can practise your driving skills alongside your lessons, in a family car or friend’s car with our flexible learner driver insurance, with cover available from 30 days to 180 days.
Will I be able to find a new driving instructor?
If you turned 17 after lockdown or are looking to change instructor after a break from driving, you may be concerned about availability. The honest answer is we don’t know how easy it will be, as there will be increased demand. However, if you can be a bit flexible, we’re sure that you will be able to find a great instructor to help you with the next step of your journey. If you’re struggling to find a new driving instructor, maybe consider:
- Registering on a waiting list for when a space becomes available
- Consider a newly qualified Approved Driving Instructor
- Widening the criteria if you are looking for an instructor in a small area, or of a specific gender, for example.