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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

THINK! Put your phone away during driving lessons

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors

A mobile phone in a glove compartment.

As an ADI, you’re training the next generation of safe drivers. So it’s important that you lead by example and put your phone away during driving lessons.
Using a hand-held phone whilst driving is a huge safety risk and, from 1 March 2017, the penalty for drivers caught using mobile phones doubled.

The impact on you

If you’re supervising a learner driver then these rules apply to you too. Check your phone during a lesson and you’ll now get 6 points and have to pay a £200 fine. We can remove you from the ADI register if you get 6 points on your licence. This could cost you your job as a driving instructor.

If you check your phone, you won’t be paying full attention to what’s happening on the road. If something happens that requires your intervention, you’ll be less able to react.

So, you get a text during a lesson. Maybe it’s a pupil asking to re-arrange a lesson, or your partner texting you about dinner. As soon as you pick up the phone you’re not only breaking the law, you’re putting yourself, your pupil, and other drivers at risk.

To avoid temptation, THINK! is encouraging drivers to put their phone away in the glove compartment. THINK! have created stickers to remind drivers to put their phone away before driving.

You can order them from the THINK! website.

A sticker reading "Phone Compartment" to put on your glove compartment.

New drivers will lose their licence

Get 6 points within 2 years of passing their test and new drivers will lose their licence. They’ll have to apply for a new licence and complete both their theory and practical tests again.

The potential consequences go far beyond simply losing their licence, though. In 2015, 99 people were seriously injured and 22 were killed in crashes involving drivers using mobile phones. It’s vital for their safety and the safety of those around them that they don’t use their phones while driving.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your pupils are safe and competent drivers. So please do everything you can to educate them about the dangers of using their phone while driving.
Put your phone away.

Using your phone during a lesson could cost you your ADI status and your job. It also puts you, your pupils, and those around you in danger. To learn more about the risks of using your phone while driving, visit the THINK! website.

So, whether it’s you or your pupil behind the wheel, put your phone away.

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  1. Comment by Clare Scott posted on

    I really don't THINK Professional Approved Driving Instructors need to be told not to use their mobile phones as hand held devices during a lesson or at any time while they themselves are driving.
    However, as the DVSA have decided in their wisdom that Candidates on the practical driving Test need to follow the directions off a Sat Nav, instructors are using their mobile phone Sat Navs for practise of this element of the Driving Test.
    Therefore Mobile phones will not necessarily be in the glove compartment in the car.

    • Replies to Clare Scott>

      Comment by Sally Davies posted on

      I agree Clare. If we are to start training them to use sat navs then we are using a hand held device. The sat nav , I think will distract them or/and confused them whilst they are concentrating on the road. I also believe that it will make teaching them effective observations more difficult because they will be less enclined to look for road signs. But who are we to question why ?

    • Replies to Clare Scott>

      Comment by Keith arksey posted on

      I take your point about satnavs, but question the advantage of a smartphone app versus a satnav. With the smartphone on to help with directions, there's the temptation or likelihood that it will be still active and receive calls, texts and so on. Also, the satnav gets its information from.... satellites, which communicate fine unless you're in a tunnel. The smartphone, however, takes info from the phone's mobile network, which isn't as good at all. Just when you need directions the phone signal and the map and the directions can be lost. We're all aware of places where our smartphone won't get a signal. Very annoying, and certainly not helpful of we're heading towards a function of some sort. So, yes, switch off the phone. Switch on the satnav and don't get lost!

      • Replies to Keith arksey>

        Comment by Pedro Stephano posted on

        @Keith, Smartphones have GPS and their SatNav app pick up geo location from there. Mobile network provides data and internet, not (precise) geo information #FYI

    • Replies to Clare Scott>

      Comment by Tan posted on

      My first driving instructor was on phone whilst I was learning to deal with a junction. Whilst talking on phone he did not pay attention and I careered into a pavement. He screamed at me 'ITOLD YOU TO HANG ONTO MY EVERY WORD!'...
      Needless to say, I stopped driving lessons for a year, then changed instructor at least 4 times because of the fear and anxiety of them telling me off if I made a mistake.

      Glad for the new rules!!

  2. Comment by Kevin Hope posted on

    I think it is a bad idea to put your phone in the glove box while driving, this could encourage people to be leaning across rumaging through the glove box when the phone is ringing, it is human nature.
    Switch it off and put it in the boot.

  3. Comment by Paul Tinton posted on

    So are the rules applied to all supervising passengers ? As a parent whilst I'm not driving these rules shouldn't not apply to me, I understand the need to be vigilant to help the person driving. But I can only do so much from the passenger seat. ... if this is the case then speeding fines would go to the none driver too !!!!! Ridiculous!!!!! Common sense please !!!!!!!!

    • Replies to Paul Tinton>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on

      Hello Paul,

      The rules apply equally to drivers and supervising passengers – including those supervising in a non-professional capacity, such as family members or friends.

      Even if you’re only supervising a learner in a car outside of your capacity as an ADI, you need to remain alert and pay attention to the road.

      It is only on the understanding that there will be a licence-holder present that learner drivers are allowed to drive before passing their test.

      So you must pay full attention to the road and not use your phone.



      • Replies to Chris (DVSA)>

        Comment by Keith arksey posted on

        Paul, I'm saddened by your comments, in that you do not appear to be taking your responsibility as a supervising paseanger very seriously. You are there to supervise the learner, to watch that they're driving safely, to offer help and guidance. You must, therefore, follow the rules of being a driver. Your eyesight must be up to required standard, you should comply with drink & drug driving regulations, too. Likewise, you must be awake and alert. You're not supervising the learner if you're having a nap. If you only have an automatic licence then you can't supervise a learner with a manual licence, for example. If your learner commits an offence you may well face prosecution yourself if it is shown you've been negligent in your role as supervisor. So, yes, if you allow the learner to break speed limits then you could face a speeding fine. Remember, the learner is not legally in charge of the car, because they do not have a full licence. The supervising driver does, and should take that responsibility or let someone else go with the learner.

      • Replies to Chris (DVSA)>

        Comment by John Grayson posted on

        I agree fully with the DVSA. The rules apply for ANYONE supervising a learner. After all that's the only reason that learner is ,allowed to drive - that he is being supervised by a full licence holder. So if that full,licence holder is not paying attention because he's on his phone etc, then he is not being effectively supervised.

  4. Comment by Suzanne Williams posted on

    As a former ADI I was always horrified to see other ADI's using a phone with students and on their own with their liveried car (and smoking) - what a great advertisement! A true professional should not need this advice! Before anyone criticises my abilities, I am only a former ADI due to a chronic health condition.

  5. Comment by David Brown ADI 320094 posted on

    My tablet is also my phone. My tablet also contains visual aids for learners. When parked at the side of the road I am both on a lesson and supervising pupils. This article suggests that I am breaking the law. This clearly is not the case. The article needs to be much more specific in its advice and refrain from emotive generalisations.

    • Replies to David Brown ADI 320094>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on

      Hello David,

      Provided you are safely parked, you can use your phone. So, if you want to use learning aids while parked, this is fine.

      However, it is illegal to use your phone while your pupil is driving. It doesn’t sound like you do this, so you should be fine.

      You can find further advice on the <a href="">THINK! website</a>.



    • Replies to David Brown ADI 320094>

      Comment by Richard Myers posted on

      To David Brown, if you are parked by the side of the road, providing the gear lever is in neutral, the handbrake on and the engine is switched off, then the car is not being driven and both you and the driver are quite entitled to use a mobile phone, tablet or whatever, connected to a mobile phone transmitter or satellite.

  6. Comment by Idris posted on

    Switch it off and leaving it in the boot!!! Lol
    Might as well just leave it at home.

    • Replies to Idris>

      Comment by Gary chalker posted on

      Just silence it and leave it in your pocket then you can check it quickly when you stop, then put it away again!

  7. Comment by Martin Caswell posted on

    This is a very patronising article. Any ADI who needs to be given this advice or is guilty of this offence, should not be an ADI and should be removed from the ADI Register. We - ADI's - teach Safe and Competent Driving and therefore there would be no exception to allow use of a mobile phone.

    • Replies to Martin Caswell>

      Comment by Keith arksey posted on

  8. Comment by Mr G CROSS posted on

    As pointed out on driver awareness course I recently attended. By putting the phone in the glove box out of reach, although good to stop you checking, could prove life threatening in an instance where you are put in a position needing to contact emergency services should you be involved in an accident and then not able to get to your phone.

  9. Comment by Richard posted on

    I think from a couple of comments -
    It is a little patronising saying put it in the glove compartment. It's a little like saying keeping candy away from kids to remove the temptation.
    Also as another said, in the event of an accident, the glove compartment could prove difficult to get to.

    'Turn your phone off' is perfectly sufficient.

  10. Comment by Mohammed. maroof. posted on

    Yes I have seen loads of people on phone when driving. It's sad, it takes lot of Time and money to get behind steering wheel. And then they abuse it. Shame on you. Dvsa Adi.

  11. Comment by Steve Thompson posted on

    Dear DVSA
    PLEASE do not have the impertinence to tell driving instructors what the rules are. We all know and teach all of the current legislation ad do not need nannying (sorry Nannies)
    If you really want to bang a drum, try your "Safe Driving for Life" strapline, whicj everyone knows is a joke

  12. Comment by J Hall posted on

    Already following the practice of forgetting about the phone whilst driving or teaching. Lead by example

  13. Comment by Frank posted on

    Instead of encouraging distracting and potentially dangerous use of sat navs by including their use in driving tests, they, along with mobile phone use should also be discouraged and made illegal. Too many contradictory messages here. phone

  14. Comment by sean posted on

    What about using a tablet to mark a mock test?

    • Replies to sean>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on


      The use of a tablet while in a moving vehicle is illegal, as that device is capable of transmitting moving images, which can cause distraction to you, the driver, and other road users.



  15. Comment by Peter Bowen posted on

    Are we still allied to use mobile phones hands free while driving? For example; blue tooth. Or is that a no go area now?

    • Replies to Peter Bowen>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on


      Hands-free devices are not illegal, but not recommended.



  16. Comment by Martin posted on

    This really is shocking to think that you need to give ADIs this advice. What's next advising us that we should wear a seatbelt?

    • Replies to Martin>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      I'm surprised at all the huffing and tutting by ADIs on this. Well, maybe I'm not so surprised.

      If you don't do it, then the article isn't about you, is it?

      The problem is that there are a fair few ADIs out there who DO do it. Most of us have seen them, and this "profession" is far from being filled solely by Mastermind contestants or paragons of virtue. It is therefore quite possible there are those who got through Part 3 still having gaps, shall we say, in both their knowledge and attitude.

  17. Comment by C Appleton posted on

    I would suggest .......Setting front or rear demister controls whilst driving is just as dangerous

    • Replies to C Appleton>

      Comment by Gerry Harrison ADI posted on

      Asking pupils to set demister controls on test while driving or before driving is strange. The pupil should already have the controls set before they move off. They have been driving for 1 hour before the test or driven to the test centre. Have they been driving with misty windows? They only have to press the rear heated window switch because you have to reset it.

  18. Comment by Clare Scott posted on

    Well said Martin Caswell!

    This article at this level of "advice" should have only been aimed at the general public that "supervise" Learner drivers - & some of them need to be reminded to stay vigilant while accompanying the Learner drivers.

    This article does talk down to ADI's!

    The DVSA obviously doesn't understand how well qualified we are as Professional ADI's - it's why they feel the need to constantly check out our standards!
    Perhaps everyone at the DVSA should undergo ADI training!

  19. Comment by Gary Fossey posted on

    My only issue with this blog, as originally published, is that it is very patronising towards ADIs; something I've become more aware of from the DVSA over the 11 years I've been an ADI. This is all the more galling at a time when the DVSA are, following not only an incomplete but also in contravention of their legal duty consultation process, changing the ADI Part 3 qualification examination in a way which many driver training professionals believe will result in underqualified ADIs and a potentially negative impact on road safety.

    I appreciate that a DVSA representative has responded to correct the opinion of a parent who thinks they should be exempt from the law in this respect, but the DVSA need to stop pointing the figure of blame as often as they do at ADIs. "supervising passengers including ADIs/PDIs" would not only be more correct but also more acceptable. I turn my phone off during lessons, full stop. I do agree though that putting the mobile in the boot is not to be advised in the event of any incidents; be they crashes or hostile action by other drivers, etc. In the event of a genuinely threatening event of the latter and especially if substantiated by dash cam footage or independent witnesses, it is likely that a magistrate would overturn any penalties in this respect.

    I believe that a "Think!" campaign encouraging the DVSA to engage their ears and brains before their fingers (on keyboards) and mouths would be highly beneficial and I'm sure many ADIs would support any advertising materials in this respect along with discussion, articles and advertisements in the likes of meetings with senior DVSA officials (such as NASP), trade publications, etc. Maybe ADIs could assess and mark the DVSA against competences in this respect and these could be published quarterly on the DVSA website, annual reports, etc. using an A, B or Fail grading system and if the DVSA receives three fails in a row the DVSA Chief Executive gets the sack?

  20. Comment by Terry posted on

    Just why are they sending this to ADI's when we all see this done by drivers Every day?
    Personally I have seen no change in other drivers attitude to the ban of mobile phones when driving I would even say i see more texting reading in traffic now as they think it's ok as there stoped.

    Also you should use your mobile phone to call 999 if you feel threatened or your life is in danger as recommended by the police?
    So puting the phone where it can not be reached is not the best thing to do.

  21. Comment by Kevin Taylor posted on

    I think it's a bit arrogant to say ADI's don't need to be told not to use their phone's, I have seen many using the phone while teaching & driving themselves
    There are plenty of ADI's who do not act as a professional, I've had one tailgating me just this week. I've done over 30 years as an ADI trainer and the standards have gone down year after year, so yes,ADI's do need reminding how to behave sometimes.

  22. Comment by Mr Adams posted on

    I think this is a good thing to promote, but I'd like more detail please.
    Is it illegal to touch the screen if the phone is in a bracket, therefore not being held in the hand? Like you would whilst operating the cars radio.

    If the phone is connected to the cars audio system, can you use voice commands like Siri?

    If using the sat nav app on your phone during a lesson for the pupil to follow, should the car be pulled over before turning the sat nav app on? Even if it preprogrammed with the destination, again the phone would be in its holder.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Replies to Mr Adams>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on


      A mobile phone can be used as a GPS device, but should not be programmed whilst driving - just like a sat nav device. You should programme the sat nav while stationary. This applies to the driver or accompanying driver if supervising a learner.

      Using a hands-free device with voice activation is not illegal but not recommended.

      The use of a tablet whilst in a moving vehicle is illegal, as that device is capable of transmitting moving images, which can cause a distraction to the driver and other road users.

      The use of a mobile device mounted in a bracket while driving can be illegal if it causes a distraction, obstructs your view of the road, or otherwise impairs your driving ability.



  23. Comment by Jack posted on

    I find this a little condescending, although I appreciate the message behind it.

    What has it come to when we must put our phone in the glove compartment, or just to be sure in the boot! Is it that the mere sight of it will be all consuming and we must pick it up, turn it on and get our fix.

    Getting a teenager to turn their phone off is harder than pulling teeth. I explain the problem with having a mobile on while driving and that with best of intentions, (once they passed and are driving their own car) ‘that no, I won’t look at it if a text comes through’ They Will! And you might get six points, oh and by the way you might Kill someone.

    So, we put it on airplane mode. It’s not off, they like that, but they can’t get a signal. And the bonus is when they get to their destination and switch to normal mode…well it’s like Christmas as come; all those lovely messages! They love this. Problem solved.

  24. Comment by Michael Rigby posted on

    Michael Rigby
    Good information on mobiles,there is also the question of the customer paying for the lesson when my phone rings on a lesson it's on silent so not to put the driver off. Also bluetooth is switched off during lessons and dont'forget the practical test to . But please DVSA drop the sat nav on test it's a tool to aid driving nothing more.

  25. Comment by Clare Scott posted on

    Ive been an ADI more than 30 years now, and Driving for over 50 years, so I absolutely do NOT need DVSA to tell me how to drive, or teach/coach people to drive in a safe manner!

    I agree with many other ADI's you've got the new test wrong! …

    If you want the Test realistic to reflect driving conditions when they've passed their tests, then have the radio and mobile 's​ switched on. See how the candidate drives with these potential distractions. Do they turn down the radio volume when the Sat Nav directs them so they can hear it … does the candidate answer the mobile phone on a hands free if it rings or leave it, or pull up to answer it.
    Ask Candidates to turn their vehicle round, safely to go in the opposite direction, however they want to.
    etc; etc;

    Ask experienced ADI's to devise a challenging practical Driving Test.
    For one thing it would be an hour and a quarter long!
    For roads to be safer in the future, potential new Drivers need more skills at a higher standard.

  26. Comment by Paul Tinton posted on

    Dear Keith, before coming down on me saying I don't take my responsibility seriously, try reading what I was actually saying. For example, a parent instructs their child to slow down as they are starting to speed.... the child being slow to respond doesn't act as they should...... the parent having no break in order to slow the car now gets a speeding fine !!!!!! This is a joke ...... it only takes a second to start to speed and be caught by a camera, these rules whilst in principle appear to make sense and on paper I'm sure they work very well for the those sitting behind a desk making them, in reality most sensible people understand that life doesn't flow like that.
    Again if you check what I wrote, I do take my role seriously, but at the end of the day I may have limited control, if I'm to be punished for mistakes of a driver, that are reasonably out of my control to manage then the laws are totally wrong and unjust....

    If any student of any kind is speeding they deserve the punishment they get, this however cannot always be down to insufficient supervision, and more then likely be due to slower reactions by the driver. To punish a parent like this is wholly unjust...

    With regards to devices being used I'm in the mindset that they shouldn't be used at all.. but that doesn't change my opinion.

    We are meant to be teaching these young people how to be safe and take responsibility for themselves and their actions !!!!

    Yet the government and your rules are happy to send them the message that it's ok to make mistakes of any kind as it's the ADI's and supervising passengers fault.... "keep making mistakes it's fine" should be your motto !!!!

    The driving industry is a shambles in my opinion, and I've worked in it for 15 years as a grade 6 instructor !!!!!!! .. I know my job very very well, I don't need to spoken to the way I have !!! And it's about time the industry started to listen to the instructors not those behind a desk who clearly seem to have clue .....

    Just like the new test rules !!! Seriously? There's no gain in it other then to justify someone's job, to say look "I've improved the test" !!! ( in reality the changes are pointless) satnav training is nothing special, parking on the right should be standard training anyway, increasing the independent drive ( why ) do we want to give the examiners more time without saying anything ? Makes their role easier I guess !!
    And finally, thinking of letting learner drivers lose on motorways !!! Your all insane if you seriously think that can be managed and controlled under your defined guidance rules.

  27. Comment by Julian Dimock posted on

    Recent news stories with regard to ADI's have included one using a phone and drinking coffee at the same time (whilst conducting a lesson), and another accompanying a pupil to an early morning test while three times the drink drive limit ! Get real everybody, just as there are poor and irresponsible drivers out there, so too is the case with instructors. Another really good point made in this blog is that the same laws apply to "supervising" parents or mates, as this is widely unknown. I recently had cause to make a parent aware that they couldn't use their son ( whilst still learning), as a "designated driver", or Taxi as they put it, following a night out, they had no idea ! So we should all be reminded, and all have a responsibility to spread awareness. Julian, ADI.

  28. Comment by LP posted on

    The people commenting here are clearly following the rules, which is why most are totally indignant! The ones that know that they are breaking the rules (and don't care) are the ones who wont bother to read this or make a comment.