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How many passengers can a learner driver have in the car?


As a learner driver, you have to follow a lot more UK learner driver regulations than qualified drivers. Obviously, when you’re just starting out you won’t be instantly aware of all of them. But the last thing that you want is to be caught breaking the law, knowingly or unknowingly, before you even have your full license. So you’ll need to be aware of how many passengers a learner driver can have in their car during private driving practice as well as in your official lessons. 

First things first, there is one passenger that you will 100% need to have with you when you are practising driving as a learner. UK law demands that learner drivers are always accompanied by experienced drivers who meet the following conditions:

  • Are over the age of 21
  • Are qualified to drive the type of vehicle you are learning in
  • Hold a UK, EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein driving licence
  • Have had their full driving licence for 3 years

Penalties for learner drivers are pretty steep, and failure to have this essential passenger in your car can earn you up to six penalty points and a maximum fine of £1,000.

Can a learner driver have passengers in the UK?

As a learner driver, you can carry as many passengers as your vehicle can legally hold. This means that in a standard five seat car, you can have your supervising driver in the front and still carry three passengers in the back. There are no learner driver passenger laws that stop you from practising in people carriers or minivans that carry six or seven passengers, so in this case you can carry more passengers if needed.

The main goal of practising driving outside of official driving lessons is to gain experience, so practising driving with passengers in the car can be a good idea under some circumstances. It can give you a better sense of how the weight of passengers in a car will affect your driving in terms of break speed, acceleration and taking corners. It is also a good idea to build expectations of how your friends and family should behave when in the car with you so they don’t cause distractions or encourage illegal behaviour like using your phone while driving. 

Of course, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It’s well known how dangerous passengers can be in cars with learners or newly qualified drivers, especially if you are a younger learner. Various UK road safety bodies have even run awareness TV ads about it. Passengers can add pressure that you don’t need to an already difficult task that puts you out of your comfort zone. So it’s important to make sure passengers are respectful of you and follow general rules like wearing seatbelts and not distracting you from the road. 

Protect yourself and your passengers when learning to drive with learner driver insurance at Quotezone.co.uk 

Can a learner driver carry passengers who are children?

Learners can carry children as passengers when they are practising driving. And like with other passengers, as long as the qualified supervising driver is prioritised, you can carry as many children as the car will legally hold. However, you will need to be aware of the laws and regulations around car seats for children, and ensure that each child is safely secured in the appropriate seat.

UK laws on child car seats apply to all children under the age of 12 or children under 135cm tall. And all children over these need to wear their seatbelts at all times. 

When you are learning to drive it makes sense that you will make mistakes, but you need to seriously consider this higher risk when having children in your car. Likewise, children do not always make the best passengers. Unlike friends and older family members, they can’t always grasp that your full concentration needs to be on the road. So they could be as much of a risk to you as you are to them.

However, if you are working your driving practice around your children and need them to be with you in the car, this is permitted under UK law. In fact, if you will be driving with children in your car when you have passed your driving test, this can be something you need to gain experience in anyway, and doing it under the supervision of an experienced driver can take some of the pressure off early on. Ultimately this decision is a personal one especially when it is your own children. 

How many friends can a learner driver have as passengers?

Learner drivers can carry as many passengers as their vehicle legally allows, and this includes friends. But the experienced supervising driver needs to take priority over your mates. This means in a regular five seater car, you can have the experienced driver in the passenger seat and up to three of your friends as passengers in the back. 

When you’re first starting out driving can be a novelty, especially when you are the first in your friend group to learn. But it can also be dangerous, and having your friends messing about when you need to be concentrating on the road and listening to your supervisor’s instructions is not a great mix. If you’re taking your friends as passengers it’s important that they respect the risks to them and yourself as a driver and that they avoid distracting you at all times, especially when it comes to using phones or playing music in the car. 

You could argue that having your friends as passengers while you are learning to drive can be good practice. After all, if they are going to be in your car when you pass your test then it is a circumstance that it could be worth getting experience with. But it’s probably better to take this on later in your learning journey when you feel more confident in your basic driving ability.

Does UK learner insurance affect how many passengers can you have as a learner driver?

Some UK learner insurance policies will place restrictions on learner drivers outside of the ones covered by UK law. If you are not aware of the details of your learner driver insurance, this could lead to trouble when carrying passengers during practice. Some insurers will limit the age or number of passengers you can carry, so it’s best to check the specific details of your insurance to be sure. Going against these restrictions could completely invalidate your insurance and leave you with no cover in the event of an accident. 

Some of the main coverage restrictions for learner drivers that can be included in UK learner driver policies are:

  • How many passengers you can have as a learner driver
  • The age of the passengers you can carry – they could restrict child passengers
  • The age of the supervising driver – some insurers require them to be over 25
  • Whether you can practice driving at night 
  • What vehicle you can drive – usually only drive the car you are insured on
  • Specific coverage restrictions – for example, damage caused when under the influence of alcohol or drugs

It is necessary to have learner driver insurance when practising driving outside of your official lessons in the UK. This insurance is tailored to cover your higher risk as a provisional licence holder for the period when you are learning to drive. Passenger restrictions or not, this is not something you can not do without. If you are caught driving without learner driver insurance you can get an unlimited fine, up to eight penalty points and even be banned from driving.

You can get insured as a learner driver in two ways:

  1. You can be added to an existing car insurance policy as a named driver – This is usually done with close family or friends and will give you a chance to practice driving even if you do not own a car yourself. 
  1. You can get learner driver insurance on your own car – This allows you to get driving experience in the car you will be driving after your test, and lets you start building your own no claims discount. 

At Quotezone.co.uk we can help you to compare learner driver car insurance policies quickly so you can get on the road today. 

Who is responsible for passengers when a learner driver is driving the car?

Since you are training to be a qualified driver, it makes sense that you will have the same responsibilities as one when carrying passengers in your car. This means that if you are driving and have an accident the passengers in the car will be protected under your learner insurance. That’s why it is important to be familiar with your insurance and know what to do after a car accident as you will be taking the same steps as a fully licenced driver, whether your passengers are affected or not. 

This does not mean that your supervising driver holds no responsibility. It is their job to supervise you and advise you on driving safely. So they have to pay the same attention and follow the same rules as you, like not supervising under the influence, and not using their mobile phone. If they don’t meet these or take their responsibility as a supervisor seriously they could also be penalised. 

If you are worried about the safety of a learner driver who is on your insurance it is wise to use your own judgement on allowing passengers to sit in with them. If they need to make a claim it will affect your insurance and your no claims discount. If in doubt, you can fill in our learner driver insurance quote form at Quotezone.co.uk and speak directly to experienced UK learner driver insurers about getting a learner driver policy today. 

Can learner drivers have passengers during their driving lessons?

There are no laws against having passengers in the car during driving lessons. However, during your official lessons you are protected under your instructor’s driving instructor insurance, so ultimately whether you can have passengers or not is their call. 

Of course, if you need to have a passenger with you once or twice some instructors might try to be flexible to allow you to keep using their service. But, if it is going to be a regular thing they have every right to say no as they are more aware than most of the risks when it comes to learner drivers, and may see it as a distraction for both you and them. 

They could be more reluctant if the passenger is going to be a child. As mentioned before, they can be distracting passengers at times when your full attention needs to be on the road. And it’s unlikely that you will be able to soothe or care for children without being distracted to some extent. There is also the question of your driving instructor’s insurance policy and if it will cover children passengers. Likewise, you need to make sure that you can secure the child in the right child seat and that it can fit into your instructor’s car safely before each lesson.

Having passengers could also impact the quality of your lessons. The average learner in the UK will take 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of extra private practice to pass their driving test. And with the price and time involved in this, you don’t want to be wasting time during your lessons fitting and removing a child’s car seat or making unnecessary stops if you can avoid it. Another option for practising driving with a child could be to take out temporary learner driver insurance.

Ultimately, it’s natural for family and friends to want to join you when you’re practising driving, either to give you extra guidance or just because it’s a novelty. Sometimes it’s not a want but a need if you are working your driving lessons around your family life. But learner drivers are just that, learners, and are more likely to make mistakes or get into accidents than experienced drivers, so this is a risk you take when carrying passengers. To avoid any unnecessary loss and ensure you, your passengers and your car are covered in the event of an accident, make sure you have learner driver insurance that meets your needs and budget and compare at Quotezone.co.uk. 

This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes

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