/ Motoring, Parenting

Could you teach your children to drive?

A chalk drawing of a car on a blackboard

Young drivers already face the mounting costs of car insurance and fuel. Having to pay for more lessons before securing a driving licence would add an extra financial burden. Would you coach a learner driver?

I remember the sharp intake of breath and how admirably my dad stopped himself from shouting as I narrowly missed a parked car while trying to navigate a crowded street.

This was the first of many practice drives that helped me to pass the driving test first time. Even more helpful than my dad was a good friend, who put me on his car insurance and let me drive him and other friends around for a whole summer. I did also have professional lessons, but only about a dozen because money was tight.

Last week, road safety campaigners put forward new proposals about young drivers. The campaigners suggested a restriction on the number of passengers a novice driver can carry. I’m concerned that such a restriction could make it even harder for young drivers to get the experience they need.

Mum’s driving school

Perhaps parents should step in and spend more time being ferried around by their children. But would you feel confident enough in your own driving skills to act as their instructor?

I’ve had the privilege of going on lots of driving courses over the years. I even retook my driving test for a Which? investigation a couple of years ago, so I would feel prepared for the challenge of coaching someone else.

But a quick straw poll around the office showed a distinctly different situation – only two out of 10 people thought they were good enough to coach their children behind the wheel.

Rather than having to fork out for more lessons for their children, perhaps my colleagues could take advantage of new, tailored lessons being offered for anyone wanting to coach a learner driver. For example, the AA’s new tailored two-hour lessons highlight skills examiners will be looking for and offers advice on how to coach a learner.

AA figures show that 20 years ago learners needed around 30 hours of lessons to pass their test, but today this figure has risen to 47 hours. So perhaps coaching from parents could be a really good way of helping youngsters pass the test, while saving money.

Are you confident enough to teach a learner driver or would you rather leave it to the experts?


We should all be very careful about the political interests of professional driving instructors. They have been trying for years to make driving teaching “professionals only”. It’s a classic ‘Producers’ Ramp’ – trying to creep into the statute book as the only people “qualified” to teach driving.

I and my siblings were taught by my parents. I’ve helped teach my four children to drive. Most passed first time; all have driven safely and accident-free since.

So full marks to the AA for spreading the knowledge about good driving teaching.

Well done!

L Jones says:
2 April 2013

Learning to drive is a complex skill and sadly parents and ‘experienced’ drivers often engender poorer skills and bad habits. Driving Instructors are highly trained professionals – trust me, I know how long it takes to become a professional instructor. Would you tell a supermarket that they shouldn’t bake cakes and bread just because you think you know how to cook?

Please don’t underestimate the skills of learning to drive. Just a few lessons telling you how to pass a test does not make good drivers as it is a skill for life.

Parents an friends can certainly help their offspring but please don’t think that teaching young people a safe and secure way to drive confidently is something we can all do – just look at all the ba habits and dangerous driving that is commonplace next time you are around.

richard says:
3 April 2013

Sadly I’ve seen bad habits and dangerous driving from driving instructors and there is certainly no real correlation between good driving and good instructors – It depends on the individual acting on their own – the fact they know how to do it properly does not mean they do it properly all the time – In fact it seems the younger the driver is the more likely they are to drive badly causing incidents (not accidents)


“Would you tell a supermarket that they shouldn’t bake cakes and bread just because you think you know how to cook? ”

I would not tell a supermarket to stop baking, but if I had the skills, I would do my own baking, to save money.

Similarly, whilst driving instructors can be in existence for learners who need them, I see no reason for suitably skilled relatives and friends to take the role of instructor, in order to save money.

By way of example, I am teaching my wife to drive. I have a career as a teacher, so teaching skills are there. I am a sensible driver. I still remember some of the advice imparted by my instructor decades ago. I have several books on driving skills and on teaching learners.

So what’s wrong with me teaching my wife to drive? Nothing! She may need a few professional lessons to bring her to test standards, but that’s all. She can learn the bulk of the skills from me.


With respect, I think you should let the professional driving instructor give the first lessons, Louis. A lot has changed in the last few decades and even though you are a safe driver, a driving instructor is likely to be better able to prepare your wife to meet the expectations of the examiner. Think about how your own teaching style has evolved over the years.

Another factor is that your wife will hopefully be comfortable with you in the passenger seat, but may be less at ease receiving instructions from a stranger. The driving examiner will not only be a complete stranger but also placing your wife under the stress of assessment. It’s not just children who can find examinations stressful.


I’m happy to help novices and have done this from time to time. My approach is the same as what my father did when I learned to drive. That is to leave most of the discussion until the end of the lesson, so as not to undermine confidence. Highlighting strengths is complementary to pointing out weaknesses.

brat673 says:
2 April 2013

I am 71 and feel quite confident to supervise a learner to give them extra hours practice. It is the acquisition of some automatic skills that only comes with practice. Having done a old age driving course which pointed out my bad habits and we were made aware of some changed driving practices. Feel that having passed the “test” a P plate for a year should be compulsory and perhaps an hours motorway driving lesson?

drivingsince60s says:
2 April 2013

I would bee more than happy to accompany a young learner. Believe I have seen most things on road in 40 years of riding & driving. Don’t really trust driving instructors these days- having observed the standard of driving by learners in driving instructors cars; and also the appalling standard of driving some of these so-called instructors in what are obviously their Learner car on their own! It is high time car drivers were subject to a similarly strict learning regime imposed on motorcyclists. This should take the form of limits on engine size dependant on their age, no driving at night for first two years, and no passengers under 21.


What is wrong with driving at night? The roads are quieter, with less vulnerable users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Many users drive more cautiously at night, and headlights provide a warning of vehicles approaching at corners and junctions. I believe that it is essential that all learners are comfortable with driving in the dark.