Can a learner driver have passengers?

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Learner driver passengers
How many

If you’re learning to drive, you might be wondering if it’s okay to have other passengers in the car while practising.

The simple answer is: yes! 🥳.

As long as the person sitting next to you meets certain rules as a supervisor, and the car isn’t overloaded with people, it’s perfectly legal to drive with passengers as a learner driver.

Before you start offering out rides, though, there are a few important things you need to think about.

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Who must be in the car?

Learner drivers are not allowed to drive alone. You can be fined £1,000 for breaking this law!

If you’re not with a driving instructor, then you must have a qualified driver in the car with you.

This can be a friend or family member that:

  • Is over 21 years old
  • Has had a full driving licence for at least three years (from the UK, European Union or European Economic Area)
  • Has the right kind of licence for the car you’re driving – for example, a manual car driving licence
  • Is not using their mobile phone while supervising

Learning to drive can be stressful, so you might also want to choose someone who’s calm, patient and a great driver themself.

There’s no better feeling than passing your driving test
Bonus reading 📚
Check out our learner driver cheat sheet for the practical test. Learn more.

How many passengers can a learner driver have?

There’s no legal limit on the number of passengers. Just know that you need to stick to the maximum number of people allowed in the type of car you’re driving.

For most standard cars, that will mean you can have the person supervising you in the passenger seat, and up to three people in the backseat.

Can I drive with children?

Again, the simple answer is: yes.

There are no special laws preventing learner drivers from having children in the backseat. Older children need to wear their seatbelts, and those under 12 (or 135cm / 4ft 5inch tall) should be in a child seat. These need to be properly fitted and the right size for the child’s age and size.

But just because you can drive with children, doesn’t mean you should.

Children are not always the best passengers, and they can be very distracting even for experienced drivers. The extra weight of responsibility you might feel with children in the car could make you nervous about driving too.

If you’ve just started learning to drive and are building up your confidence, it could be a good idea to wait a little while before you drive with children.

If you need to have children in the car with you – maybe because there’s no other childcare option – try to set some expectations up front about how long you’ll be in the car, and how they should behave (easier said than done!).

Is it a good idea to have passengers when learning to drive?

There’s nothing wrong with having passengers in your car when practicing. All those hours (and pounds!) spent learning to drive should prepare you for the reality of driving independently – and passengers are going to be part of that reality.

Just remember that cars handle differently when they are full. A heavier car takes longer to slow down and there will be subtle differences in how early you need to brake, and how the car feels taking corners. You also need to accelerate a bit harder to build up speed.

Remember, you’ll use more petrol too.

These are the kind of things that feel perfectly natural to an experienced driver, but could take a learner by surprise.

Learner drivers are allowed passengers even before they pass their test
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How to handle blind spots, stopping distances, roundabouts and hill starts. Learn more

Learner driver FAQs

Here are some quickfire answers to other learner driver questions.

Can a learner driver go on the motorway? Yes, but only with a qualified driving instructor who has dual controls in their car.

Can I practice at night? Legally, there is nothing stopping learner drivers from practicing at night time. However, some insurers have rules on exactly when their learner driver insurance can be used - so always check the small print.

Does a learner driver need L plates? Yes – by law you must display one at the front of the car and one at the back every time you drive. The sign must be the right size (we’ve got all the details at the bottom of our learner drive insurance page) and have red lettering on a white background.

Driving without L plates (or the wrong size L plates) could land you up to six penalty points on your licence.

Does a learner driver need insurance? Yes, and here you have a few options.

If you’re practising in someone else’s car, the owner can add you to their insurance policy as a named driver. You can also get special learner driver or provisional insurance – this means any claims you make won’t affect the car owner’s no claims bonus.

Cuvva’s temporary learner driver insurance gives you a little more flexibility, with hourly policies that are perfect for practicing.

Whatever you’re after, it only takes a few minutes to get a quote.

What age can you start learning to drive? You can get your provisional licence before you turn 16 but you have to wait until you’re 17 before you start driving a car. (There are some exceptions, like if you have personal independence or mobility support from the government.)

Can I buy a car with a provisional licence? Yes, you can! If you see a great deal for a car you love, you can buy it with a provisional licence before you get your full driving licence. It’s great to practice in the car you’ll eventually be driving.

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Updated on 3rd April 2023