Driving is fun and can even be exciting! But, before you get the privilege of driving on your own, you must first learn important facts.
We created this article that will teach you everything you must know about these specific plates, to save you from possible penalties.
This information may prove crucial to your driving experience… Help others learn by sharing this content with them.
What Are L Plates?
An L plate is a large single red letter “L” on white paper. The UK law mandates that every learner driver should display learner plates or L plates on the front and back of a vehicle. The L plates indicate to everyone on the road that the person in control of a vehicle is a learner driver.
Learner drivers are more prone to lack of better judgment and unpredictable reaction. People around them should know that the person in control of the vehicle is inexperienced and needs more patience and precaution.
D plates or L plates are acceptable to use in Wales. This is a form of acknowledgement of the bilingual status of the person in control of the vehicle.
Did you know that the first official driving test in the UK happened in 1936 and it became mandatory for learners to display L plates the following year, in 1937?
The UK suspended The British Driving test for the entire duration of World War II.
What Are P Plates?
A P plate is a single green letter “P” on white paper. While L plates are for learner drivers, P plates are for probationary drivers who recently passed their driving test. Unlike L plates, displaying P plates on the vehicle is voluntary; it is not a legal requirement.
L Plates Rules
There are a few rules and requirements concerning L plates. Here is everything you need to avoid or face a fine and/or penalty.
- All learner drivers must display L plates while driving a vehicle on a public road.
- L plates must be clean, clear, and visible at the front and the rear of the vehicle.
- The required size of an L plate is 178 x 178mm, but please be guided there is a specific dimension for the lettering itself as shown in this diagram.
- L plates are only for learner drivers; thus, no vehicle is allowed to display these plates if not driven by a learner driver.
- Once the learner driver passes the test, P plates should replace the L plates.
Important Notice: A learner driver must be accompanied by a professional driving instructor or a friend or a family member above 21 years of age, qualified to drive the vehicle that the learner is driving, and has acquired a full driving licence for at least three years.
If stopped by a police officer for failure to display or correctly display L plates, a learner driver is subject to a variety of possible penalties. It can be as light as an issued warning or advice, but it is important to know it can go up to six penalty points and a fine. Normally, though, the Fixed Penalty Notice, which falls under the offence of ‘driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence’ – code: LC20 takes effect whereas a fine of £100 and 3 penalty points is issued.
P Plates Rules
Meanwhile, P plates are compulsory in some countries. In Northern Ireland, the law requires the use of R plates (restricted driver plates) for one year after you pass your test.
If used, P plates should be on the front and the rear of the vehicle. However, unlike the L plates, there are no specific requirements for the size or placing of P plates. Thus, a police officer may not stop you for improper display of P plates. Also, there is no required time limit when P plates are to be used. A driver may display P plates until the person is confident enough to remove the plate.
Do You Need to use P Plates?
Using P plates can help pedestrians and other drivers determine you have limited driving experience. While it’s not mandatory, it may help you get more leniency from other more experienced drivers.
21.6% of new drivers were involved in a car accident during their first year of driving due to lack of confidence and judgment, which is one out of every five drivers. Using P plates will help new drivers transition to becoming an experienced driver with ease and confidence.
Where To Put L Plates and P Plates
There is no regulation where to put L plates specifically. In this note, The Highway Code simply states they “must be placed in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of the vehicle.”
Failure to comply with the regulation may cause offence to LC20 – Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence; being similar to not displaying L plates at all.
Tips on Where to Mount L Plates and P Plates:
- Mount L plates close to vertical where it is highly visible in front of the vehicle. Most mount their plates on the vehicle bonnet.
- For the rear of the vehicle, L plates should be placed in the similar horizontal location to the brake lights.
- This is not necessary but may be useful: bring extra L plates just in case the one displayed falls or flies off.
Important Note: When taking the driving test, you must make sure that L plates are securely mounted on the vehicle you’re driving because the examiner may refuse the vehicle if seen without one.
What to Avoid When Mounting:
L plates should not be anywhere in the windshield of the vehicle. Doing so may obstruct the view of the driver and the passenger.
- Avoid mounting in the lower bumper area of the vehicle as this may not be visible to pedestrian or other drivers.
- Front grills should also be avoided when mounting L plates as this may reduce the air-flow of the engine, worse, the L plate could go in the engine compartment when displaced.
- Where to Mount on Motorcycle:
- L plates must be in front of the motorcycle, avoiding, the headlight at all cost.
- In front, the plates could be above or below the headlight.
- At the back, it is advisable to mount the L plate just below the number plate of the motorcycle.
Types of L Plates and P Plates
There are several types of plates you can use. Magnetic, stick-on, see through, and even DIY plates. Depending on your need or preference, it is crucial to find which one will serve you best.
Now that we have established the importance of L plates and P plates, it’s time to learn which type of plate is best for you!
- Magnetic L Plates and P Plates – this is the most common type and probably the most convenient if you don’t own the car you’re driving. You can simply mount it and remove it when needed. However, with all the brands and variations out there, it is important to find the best quality. This type of plate tends to fall or fly off if not installed properly. Find one that is: weather-resistant, fully magnetic, will not scratch your car and can withstand high speeds.
- Stick-on – this type is only advisable for those who own the vehicles they are driving. Since it’s a stick-on, you must commit to having it on your vehicle for a long period. It stays in place most of the time, but just like the magnetic type, you need to install it properly. Removing can be difficult, and it could leave a mark on your car.
- DIY – if you don’t want to bother buying, you can simply do-it-yourself. It is legal to make your own L plates if you follow the measurement guidelines.
How To Stick on Car
Mounting your L plates or P plates is simple and self-explanatory. However, check out these tips:
- Before you mount your plate, carefully check if the specifications comply with The Highway Code.
- Ensure you clean the surface of the vehicle where you’ll display your L plates.
- Find a flat surface from your car, where there will be no room for any air bubbles to form when you stick your plate.
Removing Your Plates
Depending on the plates used, removing can either be easy or difficult. Magnetic L plates are the easiest to remove, simply peel it off and you’re all set to go.
This is entirely different when dealing with stick-on plates. Chances are, the adhesive in stick-on plates is already hard due to prolonged use. You can soak the plate in soap and water and wait for the adhesive to soften before you remove your plate. If this process is ineffective, you can apply very mild dissolving agents like methylated spirits directly into the hardened glue.
Complying with The Highway Code is important when using L plates and P plates. It will save you from possible troubles with a police officer or even other drivers on the road. Good luck and drive safely!