If you want to learn to drive you will need driving lessons. Let us show you your options and guide you through what to do next.
Date updated: 13th March 2021
The earliest your provisional licence can become valid is your 17th birthday, however, you can apply for the licence up to three months before your 17th birthday.
The exemption to this is if you are receiving disability living allowance at the higher rate your provisional licence can come into effect when you are 16, again you can apply for it up to three months before your 16th birthday.
You can apply for your provisional driving licence online if you:
- Are a resident of Great Britain.
- Meet the minimum age requirement.
- Can meet the minimum eyesight requirement.
- Are currently not prevented from driving for any reason.
- Can pay £62.00 by Mastercard, Visa, Maestro, Electron, Delta or Solo debit or credit card.
- Have a valid UK passport.
- Be able to provide addresses of where you have lived over the last three years.
To apply for your provisional licence online Click Here.
The DVLA will normally send your driving licence to you within two weeks of you submitting your application.
Should you learn with an Approved Driving Instructor or Private Driving Practice?
This does not necessarily need to be a one or the other decision. The Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) advises that the best way to learn to drive (and pass your test!) is to take driving lessons with a qualified ADI plus, where practical, private driving practice with family or friends. For more information and advice see the practical driving page and our Private Driving Practice Handbook. Even if you are unable to undertake private practice with family or friends they may still be able to help with the learning process (please see the section on private driving practice).
It is unlikely that anyone other than a fully qualified ADI will have the expertise to teach the full learning to drive syllabus and prepare the learner fully for the driving test and of course pass the test. I would therefore always advise someone wishing to learn to drive to seek professional tuition from a fully qualified DSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).
Types of driving lessons.
I would suggest that the first question should be how do I want to learn? Do I want to learn over a period of time possibly having 1 or 2 hours of paid tuition (practice) a week, or do I want to learn on an intensive or semi-intensive course over a much shorter period of time? Of course, there is also another question and that is which will be the best way for YOU to learn to drive and pass your test.There are plus and minus points for the different ways that you can learn to drive.
Learning over a period of possibly 20 to 30 weeks will give you plenty of time to take in and practice all the new skills you will be learning and give you time to gain more experience with practice with family and friends, even if this is only talking through lessons with your parents both before and after lessons. This is how most people learn, it will also spread the cost and time needed for lessons and the tests over a longer period of time.
The next option is an intensive course, sometimes over as little as a week or 10 days. This often sounds great, as particularly a lot of 17-year-olds cannot wait to pass their test and be out driving on the road. This way of learning is becoming increasingly popular but does not suit everyone! You should think very carefully about whether or not this will be the best course of action for you, and whether it will give you the best chance of passing your test 1st time? Many people find it very difficult or impossible to take on such a large amount of information and practice in such a short time. Normally you will need to pay the full amount for the course in advance. If you then find it does not suit you it may prove to be a very expensive experience.
You will also not have the opportunity to gain as much experience or practice as someone learning over a longer period of time. Experience has shown that this extra experience and practice is not only extremely important when it comes to passing your driving test, but even more importantly after the test when driving on your own.
Semi-intensive driving lessons.
Finally, there is a third choice of a semi-intensive course. This is often the best way for many people. You can agree with the ADI prior to starting lessons how many hours of tuition or practice you will do each week, usually anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, and then plan and book the driving test for when your instructor suggests you should be ready. This will mean that you will know the date that you are working too as in an intensive course. This choice will also give you more time to gain the experience, and practice that is so important. As an ADI I feel that this option generally gives the learner the best chance of passing their test 1st time and still becoming a safe driver.
Driving lesson costs.
Driving lesson costs will vary between different instructors and areas of the country. Normally you can expect to pay between £22-£28 for an experienced instructor (ADI). Compared to many other services such as plumbers etc this is not a high hourly rate. Trying to save money by using a cheaper instructor is often a false economy. More lessons or practice at a cheaper cost will still normally mean you paying more money in total.
Over the many years (20yrs) that I have been an instructor, I have lost count of the number of pupils that have come to me after taking a large number of cheap driving lessons and having got nowhere or having failed numerous tests. When we start our lessons and the pupil realises all the areas/topics missed, poorly covered or explained by their previous instructor, they really wish they had spent the time to find a good instructor in the beginning. Now there are lots and lots of very good instructors out there. So don’t rush in, do your homework and find a good instructor who will teach you correctly and help you to pass your test, hopefully passing the 1st time!
Private Driving Practice.
Instead of trying to save money on the cost of the driving lessons I would suggest looking at the section on practical driving and our own private driving practice handbook to see if there are ways you can, with private practice etc help reduce the overall number of hours paid tuition or practice needed and possibly the number of tests also needed to pass your test!
The average number of driving lessons needed to pass the test.
This is an extremely difficult question and one that instructors hate being asked. This is because it all depends on the person learning to drive (you). We all learn at different rates and find different subjects easy or difficult to understand and perfect. The DVSA website suggests that the average number of hours taken to pass the driving test is 45hours paid tuition, plus 22hours of private practice, normally this will be less for younger learners and possibly more for anyone learning later in life.
From my own experience, I would suggest the better the tuition the fewer lessons will be needed. Whilst this is clearly a lot of paid hours of tuition if the learner can receive good quality assistance from family or friends then the total number of paid hours needed to pass the test may be noticeably reduced. Unfortunately again from personal experience, the quality of private practice varies greatly, from very good to extremely poor! This can then often lead the learner into bad habits, which will normally require more paid tuition to correct. Making the right decisions and preparation will help in keeping the number of lessons and therefore costs down.
If it is your intention to help a learner with private driving practice then our Private Driving Practice Handbook is an absolute must for safe, effective practice.
First drive and cockpit drill.
Your first driving lesson should be to get you used to the cockpit drill (seating and mirror positioning), the vehicle’s controls and how to use them correctly. The instructor will explain both clutch and brake control and how to position the vehicle and use the steering wheel correctly. When this has been covered the next stage is to explain how you will move the car away safely and under control, including further areas such as how to change gears etc. Then the exciting moment of actually moving the car away and driving along the road. Normally you will keep practising parking beside the road and then be moving away again to give you the opportunity to keep practising the use of the mirrors, signals, steering and pedals.
When you first start driving it can seem that there is just too much to remember and everything is a bit of a blur. But with careful practice, it will become much clearer.
How to?..(clutch control).
A driver will use the clutch control to enable them to move their vehicle from a parked/stationary position, under full control and at the speed that the driver wants.
How the clutch works.
First a brief explanation as to how a clutch works. The clutch has two plates; the first is linked to the engine and is rotating all the time the engine is running. The second plate is linked to the vehicle’s wheels and will only rotate when the two plates are held against each other (clutch pedal up). When the driver depresses the clutch pedal the plates will be forced apart. With the clutch pedal depressed (down), there is a gap between the plates, therefore no power is being transferred between the engine and the vehicle’s wheels.
In short, if the clutch pedal is up the engine is connected (subject to being in gear) to the wheels, if the clutch pedal is down the engine is disconnected from the vehicle’s wheels.
Next, we need to look at the Biting Point (Bite Point) which is the point when the two clutch plates begin to make contact/come together. By controlling the amount of contact, by either slightly raising or depressing the clutch pedal, the driver will be able to control the amount of power being transferred through to the vehicle’s wheels.
Whilst the driver can depress the clutch pedal as quickly as they want/need, if the clutch is raised too quickly it will cause the clutch plates to come together too suddenly, which is likely to cause the engine to stall, or the vehicle to jump/move forward faster than intended and out of control.
During your driving lessons, you will deal with a number of different types of junctions. Normally you will start with turning into and emerging out of side roads (T-junctions) Then roundabouts and crossroads, together with a variety of other traffic light controlled junctions. Whilst each of these junctions will have its own rules as to how they work, there are also certain areas that will remain very much the same regardless of the junction being practised. The way we approach a junction is a good example of this. This will normally be Mirrors, Positioning, Signals, Speed and Gears. This is often referred to as the MSM routine (Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre), and is basically the same regardless of the type of junction being approached.
If you want a guide to the full Learning to Drive syllabus, then why not look at The Official complete DVSA Learner Driver Pack covering both the theory and practical driving tests.
On the driving test, you will be asked to complete one of the four manoeuvres. They are the turn in the road, left or right reverse (around a corner) and the reverse park either in a car park or beside the road. The examiner will be looking at the control of the vehicle (clutch or brake control), the accuracy and good effective observation throughout the manoeuvre. One of the skills that need to be mastered is the ability to combine all of the above, and not to simply concentrate on the accuracy and control, completely forgetting about the observation.
Choosing your driving instructor.
To help you choose, consider the following:
- Driving instructors experience.
- Pass rate.
- Lesson costs.
Take your time choosing, as a good instructor will save you time and money.
Please remember only a qualified ADI may charge for driving lessons or practice. The instructor must display their ADI licence clearly when providing paid tuition. If in doubt ask to see the licence which will have a valid date on the front and their photo and ADI number on the back. Further details can be found on the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website.
The Private Driving Practice Handbook.
This is not simply another book on learning to drive. Firstly it is not aimed at the learner. Instead, it has been developed as a guide to family or friends who may wish to accompany the learner for Private Driving Practice.
When I started my training to become an ADI I remember being surprised at just how much you had to think about, both in the planning of lessons and what needed to be said and watched for during the lessons.
As an experienced driver who also had the experience of training people in a previous career, I thought that I already knew what to say and do to teach someone to drive. However, I soon realised this was not the case and discovered just how easy it was to miss out on important information or miss errors in the learner’s drive.
But with the right information and advice I was soon providing good quality tuition, enabling my pupils to become safe competent drivers and of course, pass their driving tests.
Now as an experienced Driving Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor (Car) I have developed a structured course full of essential advice and information to enable you to help your son or daughter with their driving practice. Either as an additional private practice to their driving lessons or even to teach from start to finish yourself!
It is this essential information and advice that I am now passing on to you through The Private Driving Practice Handbook available to you to download to your computer or to simply print out your copy direct from this website.
Covering all the topics needed for safe and effective practical driving practice, including lesson plans, legal requirements, mock tests and much, much more.
With the right advice and guidance, you can greatly improve the quality of your Private Driving Practice. Good quality tuition from the accompanying driver will help the learner towards their goal of passing the driving test 1st time.
The Private Driving Practice Handbook has 85 pages of information, advice and diagrams. All compiled for Your Online Driving School by a fully qualified and highly experienced DVSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI). Click here to get your copy.
Good luck with your test.