Tips for parents teaching their son or daughter to drive

While there are no set rules about learning to drive with an instructor vs parents or friends, it goes without saying that learners need as much practice as possible.

According to the Driving Standards Agency, learner drivers usually spend at least 47 hours with an instructor compared to 22 hours with family or friends.

If you’re a parent planning on taking your son or daughter out for some extra lessons before their test, you need to be sure you are giving them the best advice possible.

A recent study by Young Driver, found many parents are teaching their teens outdated techniques while out on the roads.

So to help make sure you are up-to-date, we spoke to Richard Smith, Young Driver Direcotr of Driving Standards who’s been teaching people to drive for 22 years.

Admiral: What should parents do before taking their teen on a driving lesson?

Richard: They need to take their teen out on a route they’re familiar with; make sure you know it well and give instructions in good time.

Kids often tell me they fell out with mum or dad on a lesson because they gave instructions too late. Here’s how to give a clear instruction: “At the end of this road, turn left.” Keep it simple. You should reinforce the instruction; if you want your child to take the second exit on a roundabout, as you go past the first say: “This is the first exit and we are taking the second.”

Don’t change your mind – if you’ve told them something, stick to it.

Admiral: How can parents and instructors work together?

Richard: Communication between the instructor, the learner driver and their parents is vital.

The student needs to tell their parents which manoeuvres they’re working on in lessons so they can perfect them with their parents.

But both parents and the learner need to listen to the instructor; if they say the learner isn’t ready to be on the roads on their own, parents shouldn’t take them out. This is normally a sign the instructor still needs to use the dual controls, something parents don’t have. The only control parents have is the handbrake and you should never be in a position where you need to put the handbrake on.


Admiral: Should a learner have lessons with a professional before heading out with mum and dad?

Richard: I recommend having a few lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor before heading out with mum or dad. Learners need to be reasonably confident using the clutch, gear changing and braking on their own.

Admiral: What else should parents think about before taking their son or daughter out in their own car?

Richard: The golden rule before using your own car for lessons is having the right insurance in place. Over the years I’ve taught lots of people think they can drive anyone’s car through the owner’s insurance.

It’s also really important to make sure the car is roadworthy; make sure it has an MOT certificate if it’s over three-years-old, and that it’s taxed and insured. Check the tyres to make sure they meet the legal requirements by having no less than 1.6mm tread depth.

So before you head out with your son or daughter, make sure you can tick off all of Richard’s top tips below:

  •          Wait until the instructor says your son or daughter is ready to go alone
  •          Use roads you know well for lessons
  •          Give clear instructions well before the next move
  •          Stay calm, be patient and don’t get irate
  •          Practise the same manoeuvres from their lesson with an instructor
  •          Get insurance, MOT and tax in order
  •           Make sure the car is roadworthy

If your son or daughter is learning to drive, take a look at Admiral’s Learner Driver Insurance – choose between cover for 7, 30, 60 or 90 days and your child will be protected while they learn in your car and, if they need to make a claim, you No Claims Bonus won’t be affected. 


Cover starts from just £1.96 per day for a 90-day policy. T&Cs apply. 

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