Learning to drive is a rite of passage, and most people rely on their parent to take them out to practice a few times before their test. However, figures from price comparison site uSwitch show that as many as one in ten learner drivers are being taught to drive just by family and friends, and receive no professional lessons at all.
The cost of learning to drive seems to be a driving factor behind this trend - 72% of learners being taught by amateurs said they could not afford professional driving lessons, and with learning to drive with a qualified instructor costing an average of £1,127, it’s no surprise. The driving school of mum and dad may be cheap, but is it a good enough substitute for professional lessons?
There are some definite downsides to learning to drive with family and friends: almost half (46%) of those polled reported ‘in-car’ arguments, over a quarter (27%) felt they were picking up bad driving habits and 17% of those polled said that learning to drive with a family member or friend was a ‘bad experience’ and that they would not recommend it to other learners.
Learning to drive with a professional instructor can be stressful at the best of times, but it seems like it’s even worse when it’s family or friends doing the teaching: almost a quarter (22%) have been shouted or sworn at, 22% have had the wheel grabbed and 16% have been evicted from the driving seat.
Worryingly, 18% of novices learning from a friend or relative ended up having a ‘bump’ - perhaps partly because of the lack of dual control. Compounding the danger, some of these drivers may not be properly insured - over a quarter (27%) of those learning with family and friends were unsure whether their ‘instructor’ had checked their car insurance first – and 7% said that they definitely didn’t. When teaching a friend or relative to drive, the learner must at least be a named driver on the car insurance policy – but adding a 17 year old with a provisional licence can add an additional £1,360 to your premium. Driving without insurance is a criminal offence, and is subject to a heavy fine and six penalty points – the last thing a learner drive needs.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s hardly surprising that 46% of learners who start off taking lessons from amateurs end up giving in and taking proper driving lessons with a qualified instructor.