Are you learning to drive? There here may be a lot you don’t know about the process. Everything from the cost to the mechanics of a driving lesson may currently be a mystery to you. It is worth familiarising yourself with all that learning to drive entails, so that you can stay safe on the road.

The 10 pieces of advice presented in this article will help you on your way towards becoming an accomplished new driver. So read on and find out the 10 things you need to know about learning to drive. You’ll be driving with confidence in no time.


Is Learning to Drive Expensive?

Learning to drive can cost you, on average, approximately £1,500 - though there will be various additional costs relating to insurance premiums and getting your vehicle ready for the road. 

As we all attempt to navigate the current cost of living crisis, it can be helpful to plan ahead when it comes to these expenses.

The practical driving test costs £62 on a weekday, or £75 on a weekend. The theory test will cost you an additional £23.

If you choose a driving school, the average UK rate for driving lessons can range from £30 to £50 an hour. An independent driving instructor can cost far more, and the cost of driving lessons will vary depending on your instructor. You may be able to pay per hour, or otherwise buy 5 or 10 hour blocks at a time.


learner driver holding white square with red L into a cloudy sky and ripping it in half, symbolising passing driving test

Getting rid of your L plates feels so rewarding - but you need to have them on at all times while you're learning to drive!

How Do Driving Lessons Work?

When it comes to driving lessons, you’ll definitely want to know what to expect before you show up for your first lesson.

In the beginning, your instructor will do most of the driving. You will learn the basics in a car park or on a quiet side street, before moving onto main roads once you have a good level of control over the car. 

As your confidence grows, so will your time behind the wheel. Eventually, your driving instructor will focus on giving you directions, rather than guiding you through gear changes. 

Once you can drive with full independence and know all the necessary manoeuvres, your instructor will begin preparing you for the test. Alternatively, you can book yours quite early (as it can take months to find a slot) and give yourself a target date to work towards. You can book your driving test up to 24 weeks in advance

Make sure that you know what to expect from a driving test. Whilst not everything you learn in these lessons will come up in the test, it all could come up, so learn as much as you can. 


How Many Lessons Should I Book?

There is no legal minimum number of lessons you need to book. The number of lessons booked with vary from driver to driver. You may find that you need more lessons to feel confident in your driving ability. For others, 10 lessons may be enough. 

According to the DVSA, it takes the average learner 45 hours of lessons in addition to 22 hours of extra practice to pass their driving test. It can be intimidating when you know that each lesson comes with a price tag attached, but try not to rush your progress if possible.


Which Driving Instructor Should I Choose?

When it comes to choosing a driving instructor, be sure to pick someone who makes you feel relaxed. You will likely learn much quicker and retain knowledge better in a calming environment. 

If you suffer from performance anxiety, know that this is entirely understandable. Chances are, the more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel behind the wheel of a car. There is nothing wrong with being a cautious driver. To limit any potential stress, remember to stay hydrated and reduce your caffeine intake where possible.

You must be accompanied by a driving instructor - in a car fitted with dual controls - in order to drive on the motorway. A vehicle with dual controls will have clutch and brake pedals in the passenger footwell, allowing the instructor to take over the controls. This can give you additional peace of mind, as the instructor will be able to step in if you need them to. 

You should know that legally you will not be able to drive a manual car if you pass your test in an automatic - another thing to consider when sourcing an instructor. 


Will I Need to Practice?

Outside of the lessons you book with a qualified driving instructor, you will want to practice as much as you can. If your parent/guardian agrees, you can buy insurance for learner drivers and get behind the wheel of their car after you’ve already had a few driving lessons.

You must always have a parent or a guardian with you in the car. They must sit in the front passenger seat, and have held a UK driving licence for more than 3 years, and be at least 21 years old

If your parent/guardian leases or hires their car, they might not be able to insure you on it. As the leasing/hiring company owns the car, they probably won’t want a learner driver due to the extra risk.

Make sure you remember to put an L plate on the front and back of the car as well, so that other drivers can give you the space and time to make decisions on the road. 


How Early Should I Book My Theory Test?

You can’t book a driving test without having passed your theory test first. The theory test takes around an hour to complete, and consists of a computer-based multiple-choice test made up of questions about the Highway Code

You will then take a hazard perception test, which will involve watching video clips and clicking your mouse when you notice a hazard forming. As soon as the test is complete, you will find out if you have passed, and be able to move onto thinking about your practical test. 

When you pass the theory test, the certificate lasts 2 years, so you will have plenty of time to book driving lessons and arrange your practical test. All you’ll need to book the theory test is a provisional licence, so you can book as soon as you turn 17. Bear in mind that if the 2 years expires, you will have to retake the theory test.


Are Wait Times Long?

You won’t be the only person trying to book in for driving lessons, and wait times can be long. Chances are you will have to wait at least a few months to start learning to drive. The earlier you start looking, the sooner you can get your name on a waiting list.


What About My Passengers?

Whilst a learner driver can have passengers, you will need to ensure that at least one of them is a registered driver. As previously mentioned, this individual will have to sit in the front passenger seat beside you. 

If you don’t feel like a confident driver just yet, it might be a good idea to wait a while before you have a larger audience in the car with you. The more passengers you have, the heavier the car. It may take you longer to slow down as a result, and you might need to brake earlier than you normally would. You may also find that acceleration is slightly more difficult.


How Long Does a Provisional Licence Last?

A provisional licence lasts 10 years, and you can keep renewing it until your 70th birthday.

A provisional driving licence costs £34 with an online application. Whilst the licence only becomes valid as of your 16th birthday, you can apply as soon as your turn 15 years and 9 months old. It is free to upgrade from a provisional to a full licence, but it will cost you £17 if you want to update your photo. 

You can’t start learning to drive until you have your provisional licence, but you should make sure that your eyesight meets the required ‘standard of vision for driving’ before applying. You will need to be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away, offer a legitimate form of ID, and provide addresses for where you have lived over the last 3 years.


What Should I Do Before My Driving Test?

Know that learning any new skill can be a daunting prospect, but just think how many people before you have already learned how to drive.

Everyone starts out exactly where you are now. The best thing you can do is take everything one step at a time.

Just think - you only have to learn to drive once! 

The driving test itself is only 40 minutes, so it will be over before you know it. 


senior driving instructor marking clipboard during driving lesson as young female driver sits in drivers seat learning to drive

Driving lessons are all about building up your confidence, so make sure you choose an instructor that's highly recommended and a good fit for you.


Before each driving lesson, try to get a good night’s sleep. Make sure you eat breakfast, and know exactly where you will be picked up. You should wear comfortable shoes that won’t slip on the pedals - and don’t forget your glasses if you wear them. Unless you have already paid for the lesson, remember to bring cash as well. 

When it comes to the driving test itself, be sure to arrive at the test centre in plenty of time. If possible, try and fit a driving lesson into your schedule on the day of your test. This can give you a chance to perfect any manoeuvres or ask any remaining questions. 

Make sure you remember to bring any required documents so that the test can go ahead as planned - you will need to bring both your provisional driving licence and your theory test pass certificate. 

During the test, know that you can ask an instructor to repeat any instructions you may have missed or misunderstood. In preparation, you may wish to familiarise yourself with the area surrounding your chosen test centre, so that you know roughly what to expect on the day. 

Though learning to drive is a big step, it is by no means the end of your driving journey. Always be willing to learn more about the process, and make sure that your car is safe to drive at all times by booking in for a car service when needed.


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