LEARNING to drive is widely considered a nerve-wracking rite of passage.
And in addition to road signs, parallel parking lots and roundabouts, budding motorists also risk penalty points before they even pass their tests.
Learner drivers can have up to 11 points on their provisional licenses and still be able to pass their tests.
But these will transfer to their full licenses upon successful completion – so the stakes are high when students get it wrong.
And if a driver accumulates six points within two years of passing, their license will be revoked and they will have to retake the test.
A staggering 74,104 provisional license holders had points in April 2021, of which 1,383 had more than 10, according to insurer Veygo.
But luckily, there are simple ways to avoid getting any at all.
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MAKE SURE YOU’RE COVERED
Just as drivers who have passed their tests must do, learner drivers should ensure they have insurance before they get behind the wheel.
Driving without it can see you slapped with six penalty points and a fixed £300 fine.
The police also have the power to impound your vehicle, and if the matter goes to court, you could face an unlimited fine or even be temporarily banned from driving.
So whether you drive your own car or work for a loved one, you need to have the right policy.
It could just be insurance on your own vehicle, your own policy on someone else’s, or adding you as a named driver on another car.
L OF A PENALTY
Once your insurance is sorted, it’s crucial to make sure your L-plates are displayed correctly or you could break the law.
That means making sure they’re the right size and in the right place.
Opt for two 178mm x 178mm plates and place one on the front and the other on the back of your vehicle and you should be safe.
But make sure they don’t block your windshield or view – which could also result in penalties.
And don’t forget to buy them from a legitimate retailer as there are also specific dimensions for the red letter L itself.
Fines of up to £200 can be imposed for spoiling the crucial stage – and you can also end up with six points on your licence.
KNOW THE ROADS
Assurance? Sorted. L-plates? Sorted. Now is the time to set foot on the ground.
But it is essential to be familiar with the rules of the road.
Book your theory test as soon as possible and start revising immediately.
This will give you much more confidence, which means you are safer in the car and avoid the dreaded fines and points.
Once you have succeeded, remember to put into practice what you have learned during your lessons, but also at your own pace.
A simple mistake can see drivers punished – even in dual drive cars.
Joseph Bell, 18, was caught stopping over the line at a traffic light by an automatic camera.
There were no oncoming cars or pedestrians, but he was given a fixed-term fine of £100 and three points on his provisional licence.
He fought the punishment in court, where he was granted an absolute discharge, but other Learners may not be so lucky.
Its instructor was not prosecuted, even though he had dual control of the vehicle, but others called on teachers to face some form of punishment for learners’ mistakes.
Lawyer Bruce Stuart, who runs a driving law website, told the BBC: “In my opinion, if you take a course with an instructor there should be no prosecution – if someone one must be prosecuted is the driving instructor.”