Good weather, the Coronation, and a rise in staycations are all likely to increase the practice opportunities – and challenges – for learner drivers this May, with many introduced to ‘holiday traffic for the first time this weekend.
There are expected to be jams on the M4 at Newport, Port Talbot and the end of the motorway at Pont Abraham with busy traffic over the Brecon Beacons, around the Gower and Welsh coast, and along the A55 linking North East Wales with Holyhead, Anglesey.
The RAC, in partnership with INRIX, recently revealed that there will be a predicted 32 million road trips over the course of the first two May bank holidays, with many learner drivers using this time as an opportunity to get in extra practice time with family or friends in a private, insured vehicle.
While many learner drivers and motorists will know and follow the rules, lack of understanding and awareness of these rules around learning to drive in a private vehicle may leave learners and other road users vulnerable to thousands of pounds of fines and points on their license if they fail to comply.
Beware of beer-goggles fines
Anyone using a learner driver as their ‘designated’ driver, without a sober and qualified supervising passenger in the front seat – so-called beer goggle driving – , can face fines of up to £2,500, 10 points on their license, or a ban from driving – even though they’re not personally at the wheel.
James Armstrong, CEO of Veygo says: “Parents of learner drivers – or their friends – might be tempted to offer taxi money in exchange for a lift home, and cash-strapped learners might be happy to accept.
“But many people don’t realise that accepting a lift from a learner – no matter how confident they are – means that, as a qualified driver, you are responsible for the control of the vehicle. This means that you must comply with the rules you would normally adhere to if you were in the driving seat – including being under the drink-drive limit.
“If you’ve enjoyed one-too-many before getting in the front passenger seat with a learner driver at the wheel, you could face 10 points on your license, a fine of up to £2,500, a three-month prison sentence, or a potential driving ban”.
Road rage warning
Busier roads are likely to lead to journeys taking longer or being delayed, which can be frustrating.
In particular, frustration and impatience can often be felt or aimed at learners who may be a bit slower on the road or manoeuvres as they are newer to it and still learning. However, showing frustration by beeping or driving close to other learners can land you fines or points as your driving becomes “careless”.
A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £30 can be issued for illegal use of a car horn, like using it at a learner in anger when there is no genuine danger from their driving. If drivers don’t agree with an FPN being issued, they can challenge the decision in court – but if they lose, the fine can be increased to up to £1,000.
James Armstrong, CEO of Veygo said, “Some drivers will feel road stress more than others. The best thing to do to avoid fines and points from this – or even experiencing driving frustration – is to allow enough time for your journey over bank holidays, so you don’t get anxious at being late or on busy motorways or roads.
“It’s important to be considerate of other drivers at all times; whilst it might be stressful to sit behind a driver taking their time to park or who is slower to accelerate than you, it’s important to bear in mind their circumstances and that they are not doing anything illegal. More often, these drivers could be learners, and to beep the car horn in anger or tailgate can be intimidating for new motorists and even land you fines and points. We were all learners once!”
As a learner driver, are you driving with the right insurance?
76,336 learner drivers in the UK have points on their provisional driving license, all before passing their test – this is 2,000 more than in 2021*.
According to the most recent DVLA data, the most common offence learner drivers are penalised for is driving without the right insurance, with this accounting for 40% (33,000) offences as of 16th April 2022. Many learner drivers may find themselves foul of this law because they have been persuaded to borrow vehicles by qualified drivers who are equally unaware of the rules or who rely on learners to provide lifts to friends and family over busy periods, like bank holidays.
Those on the wrong side of the law could land a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if caught driving a car they are not properly insured for by the police. The car could even be seized.
James Armstrong, CEO of Veygo says: “The long weekends and extra time off present the perfect opportunity for learners to clock up some additional driving hours by hopping in the car with a family member or friend for a drive around the block or in a quiet car park. This extra practice is important for learners whose driving test is just around the corner as failing could mean waiting until 2024 for another test slot.”
“However, we are urging learners and their parents to check out our guidance to ensure they’re staying on the right side of the law in terms of adequate insurance. To avoid prosecution or fines, we recommend that all learners have learner driver insurance or check that they have been added to the insurance policy of the owner of the car, ahead of practicing in a private vehicle.”