So, you want to pass your driving test, get some wheels and hit the open road? Many people often wonder what learning to drive entails, how long it takes and, importantly, how much it will cost. One of the best parts about learning to drive is the fact that you can take however many, or few lessons you want before you take the test. However, each lesson costs money so the number of lessons you can afford will become a deciding factor. From your bank balance’s point of view, the fewer lessons you need and the quicker you pass the better! So how long does it take to learn to drive and pass your test?
In short, The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says that, on average, it takes most people 45 hours of lessons to learn how to drive. On top of this, the average number of practice hours is 22. The complicated and unspecific answer is that the amount of time it takes to learn to drive really depends on you as a person and how quickly you learn…
The earliest you can start the process of learning to drive is two months before your seventeenth birthday when you can apply for a provisional driving license in the UK. However, your provisional license will not become valid until your seventeenth birthday and then before taking a test you must pass a theory exam as well. It takes longer to learn to drive a manual car than an automatic one. This article will go into depth into all things learning how to drive so buckle up for the ride!
How Long Does it Take to Learn to Drive a Manual Car?
Driving a manual car means that you must learn how to change gears yourself. Most cars or at least most cars you will be learning to drive in will be manual, which means that you will have to take time to learn, in detail, how to change gears. Because of this, learning to drive a manual car will take longer than an automatic one.
In a manual car, you will have five/six gears to switch between, depending on how much power you need from your car’s engine. These gears will take a longer time to learn in detail.
If you want to be better prepared for driving any car, then your best bet is to learn to drive in a manual vehicle. This will give you the transferable skills you need to drive any type of car you need to.
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Drive an Automatic Car?
Driving an automatic car means that you don’t have to change gears manually as the car does it for you. This means that, in general, an automatic car may be easier to learn to drive in than a manual one.
Driving an automatic car is vastly different to learning in a manual one. Instead of choosing between the five gears when driving, you only have to put the car into ‘drive’ and the vehicle will change gears for you depending on how much power it needs. Because of this, learning to drive in an automatic car generally takes a shorter amount of time to learn than a manual one.
If you are confident that the only cars you will be driving will be automatic, then learning to drive in one is the best thing for you, however, you will not be able to drive a manual car with an automatic license.
What is the Shortest Amount of Time it Can Take to Learn to Drive a Car?
If you are dead set on passing your driving test quickly and efficiently, then you can make a few choices to cut down the time it takes to earn your license.
People who have not yet reached the minimum age at which you can take driving lessons can still start studying for their theory and hazard perception tests. This will cut down the chances of you failing these tests and get you on your way to passing quickly.
The quickest type of car to learn in would be an automatic one. This will make your actual, practical learning stage of driving a lot shorter.
If you are really dedicated, and put work into fully learning your skills, it is possible for you to pass your driving exam in as little as a month. However, you must bear in mind that people each learn differently and at different paces – don’t beat yourself up over not passing on your first try.
How Long Does it Take to Learn to Drive With an Intensive Driving Course?
You may want to consider taking an intensive driving course, sometimes known as ‘crash courses’. These courses can help you pass your test in under two weeks. Most driving schools which provide intensive driving courses will want you to have passed your theory test and have at least basic driving skills before you start. You should be able to find a course like this in your local area, but some providers offer residential courses. Most of these courses will offer one-to-one tuition with a qualified driving instructor. You will cover exactly the same skills as you would with regular driving lessons, just in a much shorter period of time.
These courses can be tailored to fit you as an individual and concentrate on your areas of weakness, if necessary. Usually, these courses run over a one-to-two-week period, but you will be driving for at least 5 hours a day. The downside is that these courses can cost approximately £1000 per week and, as the test will always be carried out by an independent examiner, there is no guarantee of passing.
Intensive driving courses are not everyone’s cup of tea, particularly if you have never driven at all before. Some people tend to find them quite stressful and feel overwhelmed by the pressure to pass straight away at the end of the course to justify the cost involved.
The benefits of intensive training are that you will progress rapidly and all of the skills you learn will be fresh in your mind when you take your test at the end of the course rather than having weekly lessons when it is sometimes easy to have a lapse in knowledge between each lesson.
7+ Ways of Shortening the Time it Takes to Learn to Drive
If you are dead set on cutting down the time it will take you to pass your test, here are a few tips on how to do that:
- Apply for your provisional license as soon as possible. Remember, you can do this two months before your 17th birthday and you can apply online.
- Book your theory test as soon as possible, as you cannot sit your final practical test without passing it first.
- Start studying for your theory test as soon as possible, so that you have a good chance of passing it on your first try. There is nothing there to stop you studying for your theory test at age 12 or younger!
- Be organised and get your lessons booked at regular intervals. If you leave it until the end of each lesson to book the next one, then you may not be able to get another lesson for a number of days, if not weeks and you will lose momentum. Block booking lessons is therefore the way to go!
- Practise in between lessons. Remember, practice makes perfect! The more time you spend behind the wheel in between your lessons, the less time you will have to spend on the lessons themselves and the quicker you will pass your test.
- Discuss with your instructor how far off you are from being prepared enough to take your test and book your test as early as possible, within reason. The worst thing you can do is have a big gap between your last driving lesson and taking your test. This may happen if you are unable to book a suitable slot for your test and end up having to wait several weeks for a slot to become available. A gap of this sort may also result in your driving becoming stale and lessen your chances of passing.
- Think about booking onto an intensive driving course (see below).
How Much Does it (Actually) Cost to Learn to Drive?
Learning to drive comes with a hefty price tag, but how deep do your pockets need to be? The cost of a provisional driving license is £34 (applying online) or £43 (by post) and the cost of taking the theory test is £23. A driving test on a weekday will set you back £62 and if you choose to take your driving test on a weekend, this will be £72. In addition, you will have to pay for your vehicle insurance which, if you are under 25, will cost you approximately £1000. The reason insurance is so expensive for under 25s is due to the fact that insurance companies consider young drivers a riskier bet as they are proven more likely to be involved in accidents.
In the UK, the average cost of a driving lesson is £24, but this can vary depending on whether you choose to learn with an individual instructor or a national driving school. The cost of individual lessons varies depending on whereabouts in the country you live.
Check out this student article about the cost of learning how to driver here.
How Should You Prepare to Learn How to Drive?
Before you can simply jump into your driving lessons, there are a few things you need to do. These things include finding an instructor to teach you, sorting out your learner driver insurance, and making sure you know which type of car you are going to be learning in.
How to Find a Driving Instructor?
Driving instructors can be found locally – the best place to search could be online but consider personal recommendation as not all driving instructors are equal! Bear in mind that different instructors charge different rates. There are also larger, more widespread companies which offer driving and theory lessons. Some of these companies are even offering remote learning courses during the pandemic. If you need help finding a driving instructor who is approved by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency), then you can check the official government website which gives you a place to research your local driving schools to see if they are licensed, and their grade.
During the COVID pandemic, learning to drive may be a difficult thing to do if local or national restrictions do not permit it in person. The official UK government website suggests that people who are wanting to learn to drive in these times should take lessons with a family member/someone in their bubble. You can find more information on the Driving Lessons page of the UK government website.
Where to Find Learner Driver Insurance?
Almost all insurance companies offer learner driver insurance just in case something goes wrong while you are learning. The cost of this insurance will depend on both you personally and the car which you plan to learn in. Companies such as Confused.com and Compare The Market can give you quick quotes to give you an idea as to how much your insurance will cost.
Which Car Should You Learn in?
Choosing which car, you want to learn in is an important choice. Some cars are better than other for beginners who are just starting out. As long as you have a car insured, you can learn to drive in it. This means that you can use your own car if you have already bought one, or you can use the car which your driving instructor teaches in. Learner drivers are recommended to learn to drive in a car on the smaller side. This is because they are easier to control if you have never driven before.
How Does the Driving Theory Test Work?
Before you can take your driving test, you must pass a theory test. This test makes sure that you know the rules of the road and what each road sign means. It is important that you know this information back to front, as it is what passing your driving test will mostly rely on when you take it. In addition to your theory test, you are also required to take a hazard perception test, where you must identify hazards on the road.
There are plenty of ways to make sure you know your stuff for your theory test, including books on the tests, example tests and apps to learn what signs mean and the rules you must follow. The test you will take depends on the vehicle you are planning to get a license for, and you can find free mock tests for each vehicle on the government’s official website. There are also free resources to help you prepare for your hazard perception test.
Once you think you know your stuff, you can book a test online to take in person. Unfortunately, despite the pandemic, these tests must be done in person at your local DVSA Test Centre. There is also a fee of £23 that you must pay in order to take your theory test. Depending on your current restrictions, this might not be possible for you at the moment. However, this just means that you have extra time to really make sure you know your stuff.
What’s Different About Learning to Drive a Motorcycle or Moped?
The process by which you gain a license for a motorcycle or moped is different to that of a car. Along with the theory test, you must also take an on-road riding test and an off-road riding test. These tests are taken instead of the hazard perception test you would take when learning to drive a car. Both assessments are taken in person with an examiner.
Once again, you can prepare for the theory test the same way you would prepare for a car test – flashcards, apps, books and practice tests which can be found on the official government site.
4+ Tips for Cutting the Cost of Learning to Drive
If you feel like the money aspect of learning to drive may be a problem, here are some tips to try and lower the cost for yourself.
- Booking your driving lessons in bulk means that you can usually negotiate a discount to try and save yourself some cash.
- You can limit the number of hours you pay for by practising driving in your own car or your family’s car, as long as there is a suitably qualified adult over the age of 21 with you. The more practise time you have before paying for lessons, the less lessons you will need, and the more money you will save.
- Shop around for your car insurance and consider learning in a car with a smaller engine which will therefore cost less to insure. You could also consider having a ‘black box’ fitted to your car to monitor how you drive. This can greatly reduce the amount you pay for your insurance as it uses GPS technology to keep an eye on your speed, time of driving and braking speed – bear in mind that a black box can have the opposite effect too, so if you drive poorly, your insurance costs may increase.
- Apply for your provisional license online as it is cheaper than doing it by post.
- Use online apps to practice for your theory test to lower the chance of you having to retake it.
What Happens if You Fail Your Driving Test First Time?
Many, many people don’t pass their driving test the first time. This can be for a variety of reasons – the theory test, the hazard perception or the actual final driving test. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry! It happens to loads of learner drivers. In fact, around 47% of learner drivers do not pass on their first try. The best thing about driving tests is that you can do them again! There is no limit on how many times you can take a driving test. As long as you can pay the test fee, you are fine.
If you are planning on retaking your driving test, then here are a few things you might want to do to become better prepared:
- Revise for the theory and hazard perception tests like your exams. You could use flash cards.
- Stay calm! Getting worked up over your test will only make you less likely to perform at your best.
- Identify which factors caused you to fail your last attempt – your examiner will let you know what went wrong at the end of your test. You may only be slipping up on a minor detail which can easily be fixed.
What Happens After You Pass Your Driving Test?
Once you have passed your driving test, your examiner will take your provisional license and you will receive a brand-new full license within about three weeks. You do not have to wait for your full license to arrive before you can drive – the examiner will also provide you with a paper certificate as proof that you have passed your test. It is important to tell your insurance company that you are no longer a learner driver.
Passing your test is the minimum qualification you need to drive on UK roads – you will still have a lot of experience to gain once you have passed your test. Some people say that you only start learning to drive properly once you have set off on the roads by yourself. You should make sure that you only drive on familiar routes to start with and get rid of any distractions like loud music and distracting passengers.
P-plates are worth considering. These are like learner ‘L’ plates but with a green letter P on them and the let other drivers know that you have recently passed your test and are new to driving. They are advisable as they alert people to the fact that you are a novice driver and, hopefully, mean that other drivers will treat you kindly if you are hesitant or make minor mistakes. P-plates are not compulsory in law, but they are a great idea.
7+ Quick Tips for Confident Driving
You have not truly learnt to drive until you can drive confidently by yourself. Your first journeys on your own are bound to be quite daunting, not to mention nerve-wracking. Up until now, you will have simply walked, caught buses or hitched lifts, but now you have the responsibility of driving and are in complete control of your vehicle. Here are a few tips for driving confidently:
- Get lots of practice! The more you drive, the easier it gets. Get into your car and start driving as soon as you have passed your test – don’t put it off, otherwise, you might lose your nerve and forget all of your hard-won skills.
- Take the easy routes. Drive to familiar places and plan your route before you go. This will fill you with confidence before you start branching out further afield.
- Take the pressure off yourself. For example, choose to park in quiet car parks and side streets to avoid putting yourself under undue stress.
- Ignore your phone. One of the most common causes of road accidents is using a phone while driving. Phones are a major distraction, and this is the last thing you need as a newly qualified driver.
- Keep calm. Ignore bad driving from other people and do not give in to road rage. Slow down or stop if someone is driving dangerously near you and let them pass. It is best not to get involved.
- Drive during daylight hours to begin with. Obviously, you will need to get used to night time driving, but until your confidence increases, daytime is best as you will not have to deal with operating your headlights and getting used to different road conditions.
- Don’t be swayed by your friends. If your friends are passengers in your vehicle, do not allow them to persuade you to take unnecessary risks on the road such as speeding, overtaking or pulling out at junctions when you are not comfortable in doing so. As well as this, don’t allow them to turn up your radio to an extreme level or mess about while you are trying to concentrate on your driving. These distractions could lead to accidents.
- Make sure you have your driving license and insurance details with you in case of accidents. If you are involved in an accident, whether it is your fault or someone else’s, remember to always exchange these details with the other driver involved, take photographs of any damage and note down the names and addresses of any witnesses. If in doubt, call the police.
In conclusion, driving is an extremely useful skill no matter who you are. The time you take to you pass your driving test and how confident and competent you become at driving will rely completely on you: the way you practise, how many lessons you take, the time you spend learning your theory and, once you have passed, how many hours you spend safely behind the wheel.