LEARNING to drive is widely considered a nerve-wracking rite of passage.
And on top of the road signs, parallel parking and roundabouts, wannabee motorists also face the prospect of penalty points before taking their tests.
Learner drivers can have up to 11 points on their provisional licences and still be able to take their tests.
But these will transfer to their full licences after passing – so the stakes are high when students slip up.
And if a driver racks up six points within two years of passing, their licence will be revoked and they must retake the test.
A staggering 74,104 provisional licence holders had points in April 2021, with 1,383 of these having more than 10, according to insurer Veygo.
But thankfully there are some easy ways to avoid getting any at all.
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MAKE SURE YOU'RE COVERED
Just as drivers who have passed their tests have to, learner drivers must ensure they have insurance before getting behind the wheel.
Driving without it can see you slapped with six penalty points and a fixed fine of £300.
Police also have the power to seize your vehicle, and if the case goes to court you could face an unlimited fine or even be temporarily disqualified from driving.
So whether you are driving your own car or practicing in a relative's, you must take out the appropriate policy.
This can simply be insurance on your own vehicle, your own policy on somebody else's, or adding yourself as a named driver on another car.
L OF A PENALTY
Once your insurance is sorted, it is crucial to make sure your L plates are correctly displayed or you could be breaking the law.
This means making sure they are 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 windscreen or view – which could also lead to 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 issued for messing up the crucial step – and you can also wind up with six points on your licence.
KNOW THE ROADS
Insurance? Sorted. L plates? Sorted. Now it's time to put your foot down.
But it is vital to be familiar with the rules of the road.
Get your theory test booked in as soon as possible and start revising right away.
This will give you much more confidence, mean you are safer out in the car and help you avoid the dreaded fines and points.
Once you've passed, remember to put what you have learned into practice during your lessons, but also in your own time.
Just one simple mistake can see drivers punished – even in dual-control cars.
Joseph Bell, 18, was caught stopping over the line at a set of traffic lights by an automatic camera.
There were no oncoming cars or pedestrians present, but he was handed a fixed-term penalty 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.
His instructor wasn't prosecuted, though he had dual control of the vehicle, but others have called on teachers to face some form of punishment for learners' mistakes.
Barrister Bruce Stuart, who runs a driving law website, told the BBC: "In my view if you're on a lesson with an instructor, there should not be a prosecution – if anyone should be prosecuted it is the driving instructor."
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