What are ‘P Plates’ and what does the ‘P’ stand for?

P Plates = Probationary driver (indicating you are a fairly new qualified driver)

Although P plates are not compulsory, you are strongly recommended to use these once you have passed your driving test as they help to warn other road users that you are a new driver and to be more patient.

Is there a law to use P Plates?

Currently there are no laws in force in the UK about having to display P plates on your vehicle. Some people believe that P plates should be made compulsory for newly qualified drivers, for safety reasons.

In other countries such as New South Wales and Australia, new drivers must display P plates for a minimum of 24 months by law, observe extra speed limits and have zero alcohol.

There have been similar discussions to possibly introduce a similar scheme here in the UK, where all new drivers must display p-plates for the first six month of passing their test.

Should I use P Plates?

Once you’ve passed your test, it’s recommended that you use P plates until you feel confident driving alone, within different situations as well as in a range of weather conditions too. Depending on the driver, this could potentially take weeks or months.

Unfortunately, P plates are frowned upon by most newly qualified drivers as they seem uncool and too similar to L plates. However if this is the case, it is a good idea to keep a set in your car. You may want to use them if you are traveling on a motorway for the first time, or visiting an unfamiliar place.


  1. If you are not confident to be driving alone safely and efficiently, you should not pass your driving test. Displaying ‘P’ plates shows that you have no confidence in your own skill and therefore should not be on the road.

    • Not at all you can’t say that what so ever I recently passed my test a month ago with flying colours how ever it is other road users that can cause problems speeding, being impatient when your abiding by speed limit and recklessness

    • Zac that is an ignorant immature attitude. Robs answer is intelligent and reasonable. In the uk drivers are such jerks that any reminder to be more patient is a good thing.

  2. Not at all I feel pretty confident in my driving I have took mine off now but it’s other road users that make you nervous/cautious as you may be abiding speed limits roads etc ect but other drivers can be idiots, impatient and recklessness. Yes not all drivers but you do also get a lot of idiots on the road

  3. With ‘L’ plates, most other road users automatically hate you. With ‘P’ plates you are susceptible to the same abuse by other road users as with ‘L’ plates on. I am a fully qualified driving instructor with extremely high first time pass rates, and drive with ‘L’ plates on for on average 9 hours each day, 5 days per week, so I experience this multiple times on a daily basis. I advise against my newly qualified pupils to put ‘P’ plates on for this exact reason.

  4. I think P plates sound like a great idea, even if your country doesn’t require them. I know that when I was a new driver, I was worried that people would drive too aggressively around me. It seems like a smart way to keep young drivers and new drivers safe while they are still adjusting to the rules of the road.

  5. I’m an ADI with over 30 years instructing. I advise against using P plates – the general driving public will “target” the newly qualified drivers and endanger and harass them.

  6. I’ve been driving with P Plates and I am in my second week of driving after my test. P Plates have been 50% good, 50% bad. They’ve been good in regards to people’s patience when I stall. After learning in diesel car with lots of gadgets to help me learn to drive, driving in an old basic petrol car meant aloooot of stalling at the start. I would panic and think people would get annoyed but so far 80% of people have been okay. On the second day of driving I actually had someone walk up to my window to help me when they saw I was struggling with the stalling because they noticed my P Plates.

    On the other hand I have found people will speed and overtake me alot, even though I am usually doing the speed limit. Scarily this will often happen as I’m moving off at a junction, turning at lights and (most terrifying to me) at roundabout entrances & exits. On one hand I do understand people get impatient and do not want to wait behind a new driver. But on the other hand, everyone is a new driver at some point and driving so aggressively is dangerous to them, me and other road users. It would be much safer to over take when on a road, not at these intersections. It’s not really worth risking a crash to speed and sHave a few minutes off your journey.


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