After you’ve passed your driving test, you can swap your L plates for P plates.
With a big green P on a white square, sometimes accompanied by the words “new driver”, P plates are a pretty common sight on UK roads. But are P plates a legal requirement?
What Are P Plates?
P stands for “probationary”. You place them on the front and back of your car after you’ve passed your driving test, in the same spots where you previously put your L plates. Essentially, P plates are there to tell other drivers that you’ve recently passed your driving test and you’re new to the road.
Are P Plates a Legal Requirement?
No. There is nothing in UK law that says you need to put P plates on your car after you pass your driving test. It’s entirely up to you. However, in Northern Ireland, all new drivers must display R plates for one year after they pass their test.
R stands for “restricted”, and it refers to certain safety precautions new drivers are required to take.
Why Do People Display P Plates?
Despite not being a requirement, some people choose to display ‘P’ plates so other road users know that they are a new driver. For example, if you stall your car at a set of traffic lights, other drivers may be more patient and understanding if they realise you’re a new driver.
P plates may also make other drivers more courteous by maintaining a safe distance when driving behind you.
Because of this, P plates can make new drivers feel a little bit more confident on the road. They won’t prevent you from making mistakes. But they might ensure that, if you do make a mistake, other drivers will understand, and even act to make things a bit easier for you.
How Long Should You Use P Plates?
As there are no laws surrounding P plate use, it’s entirely up to you not just whether or not you use them, but also how long you use them for.
In short, you can use P plates for as long as you feel like you need to. After you pass your driving test you’ll have to get used to driving by yourself, without any supervision. This can be nerve wracking at first. But the more you drive, the more confident and capable you’ll feel behind the wheel.
One day you’ll probably find that driving just doesn’t faze you anymore. At this point, you’ll know you’re ready to take off those P plates.
This could take a couple of months. Or it could take six months, or even a year. It’s entirely up to you.
Car Insurance for New Drivers
Have you just passed your driving test? Congratulations!
As well as considering whether to buy P plates, you may also be shopping around for your first ever car insurance policy.