Electric Vehicle Revolution: A Learner Driver's Guide to EV Driving Skills

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With the UK striving to be virtually carbon-emission free by 2050, change needs to happen. Experts suggest that for the UK to achieve this goal, most cars will need to be electric by 2035.

But what does that mean for drivers hitting the roads for the first time? The skills learners pick up will need to adapt to the electric vehicle (EV) revolution.

IAM RoadSmart, the UK's leading road safety charity and advocate, focuses on helping motorists acquire new skills. Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart Head of Driving Standards, believes a widespread move to electric cars is inevitable, and drivers should start planning now.

“The average car has a useful lifespan of about 12 years, so the car-buying decisions you will make in the next few years will soon start to be impacted by the timetable for banning petrol and diesel cars,” says Richard.

So, we’ve put together a guide on what you need to know about driving an EV and how the switch to electric will impact driving tests.

  • Some models of EVs allow for One Pedal Driving
  • EVs are much quieter, so drivers need to keep an eye out for pedestrians crossing in front
  • There’s a lack of dedicated EV learning schools and instructors

EV driving tips for learners

Worried about making the switch to an EV? Fear not, they’re really easy to drive and we’ve got some tips to help you learn how to drive an EV below. But first, check out our article on how EVs work.


Accelerating and braking

All EVs are automatics, so you don’t need to worry about changing gears – the car will do it for you! Automatics and EVs have two pedals - a brake and an accelerator.

Some models of EVs allow for One Pedal Driving. Essentially, this involves using the accelerator pedal to speed up and slow down. You keep your foot pressed down to accelerate and lift your foot to break. This works by using the electric motor to capture energy from the vehicle's motion to recharge the battery and quickly slow the car.

The benefit of One Pedal Driving is that your battery will go a little further, and there’s less wear and tear on your brakes. But what about your brake lights? Well, those work even when slowing down with one pedal driving! But you should always use the brake pedal if you need to stop quickly.

Richard says that One Pedal Driving “will make things simpler but may be a challenge for some to master.” You should practise the One Pedal Driving mode before giving it a go on a road – find an empty parking lot or big, wide open space to get comfortable driving with one pedal. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you:

  1. Press down on the accelerator pedal to accelerate as usual.
  2. To slow down your vehicle quickly, take your foot completely off the accelerator.
  3. To slow down gradually, lift your foot off the accelerator partway.
  4. To return to previous speeds, press the accelerator pedal.
  5. Use your brake pedal in an emergency or as needed to stop or slow the vehicle.

Check out our article if you’d like to get more of an idea what it’s like to drive an EV.


EV charging guide

Making the switch to electric will also be a bit of a mindset change for all drivers, including learners. The thought of not having any petrol or diesel in the tank might seem odd at the moment, but with the UK continuing to invest in charging points, it’s getting easier!

“The main problem will always be maximising range and planning journeys to ensure you don’t run out of charge. This will require planning and knowing how to access information about charging points.” says IAM RoadSmart’s Richard Gladman. 

Zapmap has put together a helpful interactive map of UK electric car charging points to help you plan your journey. It’s a good idea to plan stops along your route if heading out on a road trip, or if you’re popping out for your weekly food shop, find a parking space with an EV charger.

And if you ever run out of battery during a drive… don’t worry, we’ve got you. Our electric car insurance covers recovery for a lack of charge and will take your car to the nearest charging point.

Read our article if you want to find out how much it might cost to charge your electric vehicle.


As EVs don’t have a big, noisy engine they’re much quieter than petrol and diesel cars. Because of this, people are worried that pedestrians won’t hear them approaching.

“There will be new problems caused by silent running for pedestrians but, overall, we expect electric cars to have the same crash performance as existing models,” says Richard. EV drivers will need to keep their eyes firmly on the road and anticipate pedestrians crossing in front of them or being unaware they’re there. It’s a matter of driving sensibly and carefully.



Electric cars can accelerate very fast and handling all that power could be an issue for some. Although electric cars are very safe, learners may also need to show they know what they need to do in the event of a crash.


Electric Car Driving Test Changes

The things that make you a good driver won’t change but, as EVs become more popular, there’ll need to be a bigger focus on drivers understanding their vehicle. So, it’s likely that the ‘show me, tell me’ safety questions used in driving tests will need to be updated to reflect how EVs work and how they need to be maintained.

“We’d also expect to see new content around single-pedal driving, most economic use of battery power, knowledge of basic charging techniques and networks and awareness of the limitations on battery range caused by low temperatures,” says Richard.

“Basic ‘show and tell’ skills will still be needed, such as ‘where is the windscreen washer bottle’? Observation and anticipation will always be needed to ensure safe overtaking and negotiating bends at speed.”


Finding an EV instructor

People are turning to EVs to make their lives and journeys a little more sustainable, so if you’re conscious about your footprint, you might be thinking about whether you could learn to drive in an EV.

Unfortunately, finding driving instructors that use an EV is a challenge.  “A limiting factor now is the short supply of training in the EV sector,” says Richard Gladman. Although there are EV-only instructors out there, with 1.6 million people taking a practical test between April 2022 and March 2023, we’ll need a lot more of them to support the demand.

“Even automatic-only instruction is a niche market, which can lead to frustration when trying to source instruction. An easy route to EV purchase and use for instructors, as well as candidates, would help,” Richard continues.

Instructors may need to adapt their techniques to help the next generation of new drivers to confidently drive EVs, including using their own electric car to teach in.


Buying an electric car

Not sure if an EV is for you? Check out our guide to find out whether you should consider buying an electric car and learning in one. If you’re already set on buying an EV, the next question is – which model? According to our Electric Car Cost Index, the best value electric cars are:

  • Nissan Leaf
  • MG5 Long Range Excite
  • Mini Electric Level 1


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