Hands up if you’re experiencing a mixture or excitement and mild panic about your teen getting on the road? I for one, am counting the days to hand up the keys to “mum’s taxi” (as I’m affectionally known), but part of me is not quite ready for my little girl to be in charge of a car on her own!
If you’re like me a good old list helps me to feel ready for a new challenge, so I’ve pulled together a step by step guide to getting your teen on the road with as little stress as possible, for both you and your son or daughter.
1. Order the provisional licence
If your son or daughter is turning 17, you can order provisional car licence two or three months before they turn 17 to ensure it arrives ahead of time. It’s a simple online form and it normally takes a week or so to arrive. You can read our guide to applying for a provisional licence for more details on this.
2. Start the search for a driving instructor early
Driving instructors are in high demand at the moment as a result of COVID-19, and with the rise in the birth rate from 2003, this increased demand is likely to continue. I’d recommend starting the search for a driving instructor a few months your teen would like to start lessons. An ideal place to start is seeking recommendations from friends and family, and of course Google is also a resource to find instructors in your area. If you’re struggling to decide who to choose, look for independent reviews or a nationally recognisable brand name.
3. Look at the insurance options
It’s never too early to start discussing what the options are for while they’re learning, and after they pass in terms of what car they will be driving. Today there are more options than ever to help young drivers share the family car or insure a car of their own. One size doesn’t fit all so it is worth looking at the car and insurance options before making any firm decisions. Don’t forget to get quotes on any cars you are considering as this will help you plan and budget and you may avoid a nasty surprise later down the line. Why not read our tips on how to save money on young driver insurance, or check out this handy insurance finder tool?
4. Get them studying for the Theory Test
Your teen is likely to be in the swing of studying, and there is nothing to stop them getting familiar with the rules of the road ahead of their lessons. Getting prepared for the Theory test and passing it sooner than later will not only mean they have a good knowledge of the highway code and hazard perception before they get behind the wheel, but it will also take some of the stress away so that they can concentrate on the practical side. It may also help their confidence in the first few lessons.
5. Swot up on the Highway Code yourself
Yes, you heard me right! If you’re anything like me, it may have been over 30 years since you last looked at the Highway Code. It goes without saying that I’m a bit rusty on the content – and I know there have been a number of changes over the years, too. It’s a good idea to read through the highway code, or one of the many Theory Test revision guides to brush up your knowledge. Not only will it save you being caught out if they ask you any questions, you’ll also be more confident helping them with their revision.
6. Speak to their driving instructor
Once you’ve found an instructor and your teen is good to go, I would recommend keeping in touch with their instructor to understand what’s being covered in the lessons and what they want the young driver to work on outside lessons. This way you can provide the best support. It’s also advisable to avoid arguing with your child about something the instructor has taught them, as this can confuse them and affect their confidence. Driving best practice may have changed since we learned to drive, so raise any questions or concerns directly with the instructor so they discuss the reasoning with you.
7. Sit in on a driving lesson
Maybe not the first lesson – but it may help to sit in on a lesson with your teen and their instructor before you start taking them out for extra practice and highlight the importance of staying patient and calm. Not only will you be able to observe how the instructor works with the pupil to advise and encourage, but you can see how your handles the experience, and what their strengths and areas for development are. When I sat in on a lesson, what really stood out to me was just how many things the pupil needs to consciously think about when driving. As experienced drivers we take this for granted as it comes naturally.
8. Help them with driving practice
Giving your teen the opportunity to hone their skills and practise their driving outside lessons will increase their confidence and help them prepare for real-life situations they may be faced with after they pass – like navigating a multi-story car park or driving in the pouring rain. Provided you’ve held a full UK licence for 3 years or more and you’re aged over 25, all you need is L-plates for the front and back of the car and valid insurance. Marmalade offer affordable learner insurance from just £1.23 per day*. You can choose 30 – 180 days cover and they can be covered to drive your car with no risk to your No Claims Discount!
9. Encourage and support them
No doubt you’ve been their biggest cheerleader their whole life, and we’re sure helping them through their driving test will be no different. It’s going to be a stressful from time to time for both of you, particularly as it’s likely you’ll be a bag of nerves in the passenger seat to begin with. But if you can take a deep breath, stay calm and offer encouragement and support while they are learning it will help them stay calm, and better still increase their confidence.
10. Be ready for the big day!
With their hard work, and your support, it won’t be long before they bring that magic pass certificate home. In the run up to their test, it’s important to discuss what will happen after and make a plan together if they will be driving shortly after. This will take the stress away from rushing around afterwards trying to find a car and insurance. After you have celebrated their success, you can look forward to them returning the “taxi service” favours from time to time!
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Get short term cover on a friend or parent's car as a learner, to help you get that magic pass!
* Price based on £221.76 for a 180 day policy. This amount is currently achievable by drivers from over 440,000 households in the UK. Price and cover dependent on location.