Preparing for private practice

Preparing for private practice

Posted by Chloe Martell on 10 September 2018

Learning to drive and passing your test is a huge milestone in everyone’s life. It’s something we strive for, work for and remember for a long time. In a recent survey, we found that out of the 500 learner drivers who took our survey, 40% of them were having private practice with their parent or guardian, meaning around 60% do not take private practice outside lessons!*

We think taking private practice in a family for friend’s car is a great way to build confidence and to learn to deal with real-life situations, and the DVLA recommend getting in as much practice as you can outside of your driving lessons too!

So, here’s some advice to get you started, before you hop behind the wheel and start getting that extra experience!


Accompanying driver

You need to make sure that you choose the right person to accompany you when you’re driving. Try and pick someone you feel at ease with to assist you in your driving, and, as it may be out of their comfort zone, someone who is happy to supervise. Remember, they’re not there to teach you but to help you put the skills you learn in lessons into practice. By law, they must be at least 21 years of age and have held their licence for 3 years.

It’s also a good idea to choose someone who has good knowledge of the area you’re driving. It goes without saying, they won’t be able to help you with the driving much if neither of you has a clue where you are or what lane you need to be in at a roundabout!

If you’re looking for tips to give your supervising driver, check out our top 5 tips on helping a learner driver.



Of course, you need to be insured when you’re driving – we all know that! If you’re lucky enough to have your own car with insurance, that’s great, but if you’re practising in someone else’s car you will need to arrange cover for when you are behind the wheel. You can, of course, get added to their insurance as a named driver or a great alternative is short-term Learner Driver Insurance, designed to cover you until you pass without affecting the car owner’s No Claims Bonus!

It’s worth noting that some policies will only cover you to practice with a supervisor aged over 25, so please check your policy before you get on the road.

Car checks

As the person who will be driving, it is your job to ensure the car is up to the standard of driving. Even though the car is probably not yours, you’ll need to check that it is taxed, has a valid MOT certificate and is generally in a safe and legal condition to be out on the roads. If you don’t know what to check on the car (let’s face it, who really does?) have a look over our regular car maintenance tips!


Plan your route

It may not be wise to head out to an unknown destination on your first private drive. Instead, stick to the routes you’ve been practising in your lessons, and make sure you plan out exactly where you’ll be going before you hop in the car. That way, you and your accomplice can concentrate on perfecting your skills and getting stressed too much about where you’re heading!  

Your private practice session

Having a plan is key to getting the most out of your private driving practice lessons. Just as you wouldn’t start a lesson with an instructor without a plan of action – you should decide before you get behind the wheel, what it is you want to practice most. Stuck on the hill start? Head to a quiet place and work on it. Want to perfect the forward bay park? Choose an empty car park and give it a go!

It’s also a good idea to get your instructor involved. Ask them what they think you should work on, too. Some instructors will even give a lesson to the supervising driver – so if your Mum is feeling a bit nervous about supervising you, this is a great way to help her gain confidence!


Choose the right time

Whilst you’re probably super eager to head out on the road to get in as much driving as possible, but if you or the person supervising you are stressed, short of time or generally not in the right frame of mind to drive – then it’s best to leave it until another day. It’s better to wait and have a great time driving than rush it and have a bad session.

L plates

And finally, don’t forget your L plates! You need to let other road users know that you’re still learning – it’s the law!

However you decide you want to learn to drive, whether it’s with an instructor, with a friend or parent, or a mixture of the two – it’s key that you’re confident behind the wheel and this really does come with time and practice. A perfect way to get in this extra practice is with our Learner Driver Insurance, giving you short-term cover to perfect the Parallel Park before test day!


*This online survey of 500 UK learner drivers aged 17-25  was commissioned by Marmalade Car Insurance and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society's code of conduct. Data was collected between 13/04/2018 and 27/04/2018. All participants are double-opted in to take part in research and are paid an amount depending on the length and complexity of the survey. This survey was overseen and edited by the OnePoll research team, who are members of the MRS and have corporate membership to ESOMAR.