5 December driving practice tips for you and your learner
Getting enough driving practice outside of lessons is so important - but even more so in the winter. As driving conditions can change daily (hourly in some cases!) it's difficult to predict what it’ll be like on practical test day.
If your child has their driving test coming up, the best Christmas present you could give is to let them take you out in your car. But since driving in December brings its own unique challenges, we’ve put together some tips for making it through to the new year in one piece.
Navigating Christmas shoppers
Just the thought of driving into a town centre on a weekend in December fills us with dread. It’s full of frustrated drivers trying to find parking and more frustrated ones trying to get home again! But, if you can grin and bear it, driving in local traffic and dealing with other drivers is great practice, for your teen.
We’d recommend avoiding peak shopping times to begin with and then giving it a try when you’re both feeling more confident. It's also probably best to block out some time where you don't have 7 guests to feed and an angel costume to make - just to keep things calm in the car.
Braving winter weather
December is an odd month for weather. It’s either mild or freezing, raining or icy, and occasionally lovely and sunny. This all means it’s a great time for learners to practice driving in different types of road conditions.
Just do all the usual winter car checks first to make sure you’ve got your bases covered. If your teen passes in the summer they're going to need to be confident using their lights and heaters when bad weather hits.
Check out our advice on how to stay safe if you find yourself driving on icy roads.
If you can muster up the strength to leave the warmth of your living room sofa, December is a great time for practicing those parking manoeuvres. For less confident learners, there are a few really quiet periods over Christmas where you can take them (or they can take you) to a supermarket or town centre car park to practice bay parking.
The streets also tend to have less traffic during this time so it’s ideal for parallel parking practice without the stress of holding up any traffic trying to get past.
Knowing your limits
Taking your teen out to practice driving can be stressful at the best of times, especially while they are fairly inexperienced. But Christmas often adds an extra layer of stress for parents, and if this sounds familiar to you, we’d say avoid doing any driving practice completely!
A stressy car journey and an anxious learner will only do more harm than good and if things don't go quite to plan it may knock your teen's confidence.
Encourage them to do a bit of driving theory revision instead, to keep the ball rolling and make a promise to take them out on the roads in January.
Protecting your NCD
It’s easy to insure your child on your car when they are learning to drive, but winter driving can be more risky than usual so it’s probably not worth putting your hard-earned NCD on the line.
The simplest solution is to take out short-term learner driver insurance, which is affordable and can be cancelled at any time without fees. Check out some more info on ingenie’s learner driver cover.
You can also download our free ingenie Learner app on iOS and Android, even without buying a learner insurance policy with us. It's great for keeping track of the driving practice you've covered and encouraging your teen to reach milestones like driving at night and during rush hour.
Still feel a bit unsure about letting your teen take the wheel? Have a read of our private practice do's and dont's before you set off.
Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.