Whilst we are all required to stay home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it can be an especially difficult time for young people who are not only likely to have had their exams cancelled, but may also have had their driving journey put on hold! Driving theory tests are currently suspended until 20th May, and practical driving tests suspended until 20th June. So, for parents and young people who are now staying at home today, we’ve got some tips for you both to work together to help maintain momentum and prepare to get back in the driving seat, when restrictions are lifted, whether it’s the start of the journey to get on the road, or it will soon be driving test time!
1. Theory test preparation
This is probably the most obvious one, but if you, or your young driver, are yet to pass the theory test, this is the perfect time to study! Whilst a lot of studying will be alone with your head in the Highway Code and self-testing on apps and online, parents can get creative by finding different ways to test the young driver – like a family quiz at home, or set up a mock Theory Test at home using the government website. You could even suggest a Theory Test challenge (as most of us parents got away without needing to take a Theory Test when passed our driving test) – you may be surprised by the outcome! Discover how two members of the Marmalade team (me, a mum versus young driver Chloe) got on when we did just that in our theory test challenge.
2. Get hands-on with car maintenance!
Families have never had so much time together, so whilst you’re both at home, why not take the time to show them how to do essential car maintenance tasks, like checking and topping up the oil, checking and adding coolant, topping up screenwash, checking tyre pressure, and running through the car warning lights? As a parent, if you’re confident you could teach them to change a tyre, replace a headlight and windscreen wipers. Whilst some of these will not feature in the test, it will definitely give more confidence to new drivers – and you can do all of this without leaving the driveway! In our survey of parents, 80% of parents of young car owners said their child came to them for help with car maintenance* – so you may save yourself time down the line!
3. Watch driving tutorial videos
Fancy a change from binge-watching box sets? It’s the ideal time to set some time aside to have a chat together about areas you (or if you’re a parent, your child) would like to gain more confidence on with their driving. For a young driver at the start of their driving journey – this could be what to expect from learning to drive, or if they’re well underway and struggling on a particular area, like roundabouts or parking. Some driving instructors have their own YouTube channels and websites with tutorial videos, or your driving instructor may be able to recommend a couple of good channels to follow. Why not get them to check out our YouTube channel, where we host videos to help you master manoeuvres and watch some of our young driver Ambassadors share their driving stories.
4. Practice driving skills on essential trips
Current guidelines state that you should only leave the house if it is essential. This means that a scenic drive around the rural countryside or a spot of city driving practice is out of the question. However, there is currently no restriction on learner drivers being behind the wheel for essential trips provided the driving is solely for such purposes, these include:
- Shopping for basic necessities, for example, food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- Any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home (you do not need to be a key worker to travel for work).
So, learner drivers can drive if they are travelling for an essential reason (as listed above), they have valid insurance and that they are accompanied by a member of their household (over 25 years old who has a full driving licence – ideally a parent). More info on leaving your home on the GOV.UK website.
5. Reduce anxiety about having a break in driving
Learning to drive and passing the driving test is a huge milestone, so it is likely to be an anxious time if your test is cancelled, and confidence will be dented with a break in driving. Spending time preparing at home can help ease this anxiety, as well as talking about feelings and encouraging each other to stay positive. If need additional advice about anxiety or feeling low at this time, mental health charities such as Young Minds, Mind and AnxietyUK offer a range of online resources and support guides for managing wellbeing as well as phone or chat support.
* Marmalade Census April 2019, email survey with 188 parents of Marmalade NDI policy holders – qualified drivers
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