For parents and supervisors

When your son or daughter is learning to drive, they’ll need someone to be their practice supervisor.

The road rules and the way we teach driving skills have probably changed quite a bit since you learned to drive. Here are some tips to help you get started on becoming a great driving practice supervisor.

Who can be a supervisor

To be a practice supervisor you must have a full licence, which you’ve held for at least two years.

It also helps if you:

  • are patient and good at explaining things
  • give clear instructions
  • know the road code
  • can spend a lot of time with your learner in the car
  • stay calm under pressure
  • are willing to support a carefully planned learning programme

You could even book yourself a refresher lesson with an AA instructor to ensure you’re on the right track before you start helping your learner.

Getting a restricted license in New Zealand is now harder than ever before - pass rates are at 50 percent.

A learning programme that works

You, your learner driver and an AA driving instructor will make a great team.

The instructor will put together a learning programme that works for your learner driver. Each lesson will have clear goals. At the end of each one, your instructor will sit down with you and your learner to review the lesson and explain what you should practise together before next time. You’ll get a proven, personalised programme of learning and practising, learning and practising.

You're welcome to sit in the back seat during your learner's early lessons with the AA.

For most learners, it pays to start out with a couple of lessons a week and plenty of practice in between each one. There’s a lot to learn in the early stages and it’s important to create a good foundation. From there it’s about building experience with a lot of supervised practice in a variety of conditions. Regular instructor lessons through this time will help prevent bad habits creeping in and give you and your learner fresh things to focus on.

Your instructor will let you know when your learner seems ready to pass their test, and a few final practice sessions around the testing area will help ensure success.

Planning time to practise

Life can be busy and sometimes it’s difficult to find time to practise driving together. It’s a good idea to plan regular practice sessions well in advance, and agree to make them a priority.


  • Think about opportunities when your learner driver can practise their driving on a trip you have already planned
  • Consider who could share the role of supervisor with you, to provide more opportunities for your learner driver to practise
  • On journeys where you are driving, you could ask your learner to practise describing the hazards they observe and what actions they would take in response
  • If you sometimes have to work late and that could prevent a planned evening session, let your employer know ahead of time that you’re making a commitment to be a driver supervisor at set times and ask for their support

Creating good practice sessions

Your learner will need to practise new skills and manoeuvres over and over again before they become second nature. They also need to become really good at spotting possible hazards and responding quickly and safely to unexpected hazards. Learning things in the right order, building slowly and mastering each stage before moving on will save a lot of stress for everyone.


Before you start driving, sit in the stationary car and check your learner has mastered the controls, mirrors and switches.

Find a place where there is no traffic, such as an unused car parking area, and practice moving off, stopping and turning. Then move onto a planned and familiar route with little or no traffic.

Once your learner is controlling the vehicle well in easy road conditions, start to introduce more challenging, complex driving conditions. This will improve their observation, reactions and thinking skills. For example:

  • keep varying your routes
  • drive to different places
  • drive longer distances
  • drive in different weather conditions
  • drive at busier times of the day
  • drive in the day and evening to introduce different lighting conditions
  • take different passengers with you
  • practise vehicle manoeuvres

Ask your learner to describe out loud the hazards they observe and what actions they are taking to respond safely.

As a supervisor you should also be driving the car, in your mind, from the passenger seat. Look well ahead and use your experience to coach your learner driver on potential hazards and the correct action to take if you think they have not recognised it.

At the end of each practice session, spend some time reviewing what went well, what didn’t go so well and what to include in the next session. Try and keep your feedback relaxed, maybe at dinner later that day.

Supervised practice checklist

Here’s a handy checklist to help you get the most out of your practice sessions. Feel free to add to it if you wish. 
Download a copy of the supervised practice checklist.