Driving schools and lessons have had to stop across the country due to Covid-19 restrictions. Initially, the government website stated that no practice was permitted for learner drivers, even if they were driving with another member of their household or support bubble, but on January 11 the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency confirmed that there were exceptions.
Lessons from a driving instructor are not allowed, but driving practice can be done with a family member or someone within your support bubble, and it must be done as part of an essential journey. This could be travel to work, education or to pick up essential items.
The full statement on the government website says: "You cannot take driving lessons in England, Scotland or Wales.
"You can only practise driving with members of your household or support bubble. It must be travel for work, education or other essential journeys."
Racheal Smith, from Over the Moon Driving Tuition in Peterborough, told Peterborough Matters: "If students have had approximately 20 hours with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), then it would be important for them to keep topped up and refreshed. Usually by then they have a good understanding of the car and roads, roundabouts, junctions, who has priority, so parent or householder supervision would be an advantage.
"If they have little or no driving experience, then the risks of going out with a parent or support bubble driver would be far higher, and therefore the lost time is annoying but skill and understanding won't be affected.
"Parent supervision can be very varied, and for an ADI can hinder the basics of learning to drive."
She continued: "As an ADI, we've all made lots of extra provisions to be Covid secure. We've made more time between lessons, we sanitise all touch points on the car, wear face masks/shields during lessons, keep windows on both sides open to allow air flow. Some instructors have paid up £400 for special air purifying units in their cars.
"We have good contact with our pupils so they can tell us if they’ve been in contact with any people with Covid, and we are only 1-1 tuition.
"All these extra measures were put in place so that we could keep working and provide students with an essential skill - but here we are again, shut down.
"We haven't recovered from the last lockdown, so this is only going to aggravate the situation, and the demand for parents to rush lessons will increase, causing even more dangers on the road.
"Some pupils, may have to re-do their theory tests, as these are not being extended - which is unfair - and the back log for practical tests is likely to be up to six months wait.
"On the whole I feel we are providing a valuable teaching service and should be able to remain working, using strict Covid guidelines, even temporarily, with students that we've already started to teach."
Racheal's advice for students:
Use every opportunity to make your own decisions - if you do happen to be making a journey in a car or on public transport, assess the situation:
- Would you pull out at the junction/roundabout?
- Can you anticipate what the car approaching is going to do?
- Plan ahead where you might time a signal
- What is the speed limit of the road I’m on?
Keep doing theory training even if you’ve passed - it's easy to forget when you’ve not driven in while.