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Learning To Drive A Car In The UK

Updated on August 1, 2017
Driving Test Success The Complete Learner Driver Suite (PC)
Driving Test Success The Complete Learner Driver Suite (PC) | Source

Learning To Drive In The UK

Most people want to learn to drive a car at some point in their lives!

This page is an information resource for anyone wanting to find out more about what's involved in learning to drive a car in the UK!

Here you'll find videos, information, advice and resource links to help you at all stages of learning to drive, starting with what age you can start learning to drive, how to apply for a provisional driving licence, preparing for and passing your Theory Test, taking driving lessons...all the way through to taking your Practical Driving Test!

Everything You Need To Know About Learning To Drive!

Most people can start learning to drive when they are 17 years old
Most people can start learning to drive when they are 17 years old | Source

At What Age Can I Start Learning To Drive?

What is the UK driving age?

The simple answer is that you can start learning to drive from the date of your 17th birthday onwards!

There seems to be a LOT of confusion about whether or not the age at which you can start learning to drive a car in the UK has gone up!

Let me put the record straight:

THE AGE AT WHICH YOU CAN LEARN TO DRIVE HAS NOT GONE UP TO 18, 21 OR ANYTHING ELSE...AND WHAT'S MORE IT'S NOT GOING TO INCREASE IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE!

There has been a rumour going around for as long as I can remember that the driving age is going to increase but there are no current plans or proposals for any changes.

For most people, the age at which they can start taking driving lessons is 17. The exception to this is people who have a disability and receive the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (the higher rate of DLA). If you receive higher rate DLA you can apply for a provisional driving licence any time from 3 months before you are 16 and start to learn to drive a car from the date of your 16th birthday.

Those NOT in receipt of higher rate DLA, can apply for a provisional licence 3 months before they are 17 and start driving lessons from the date of their 17th birthday.


How Much Does A Provisional Driving Licence Cost?

In 2017 a provisional driving licence for a car costs £43 if you apply by post or £34 if you apply online.

When you pass your driving test, your provisional licence is upgraded to a full driving licence for no extra cost!

How To Apply For A Provisional Driving Licence

How to get a provisional driving licence

Everyone who wants to learn to drive on the public road needs to have a suitable driving licence. For most people, this will be a UK provisional driving licence.

You will need to be in possession of a valid signed driving licence before you drive on public roads.

Young Drivers

You may apply for your provisional licence up to three months before your 17th birthday. Just follow the instructions below.

Disabled Drivers

If you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate, you are able to take driving lessons from the age of 16 and may apply for your licence up to three months before your 16th birthday.

Applying For A Provisional Driving Licence

You can apply for your first provisional driving licence for a car, moped or motorcycle on the GOV.UK website

Alternatively, you can apply by post by filling in a D1 application form that is available from Post Offices.

Look after your provisional driving licence!

You should take good care of your driving licence as it is an important document and is widely acceptable as proof of identity - losing it could easily leave you vulnerable to identity fraud.

YOU MUST SHOW YOUR PROVISIONAL PHOTOCARD DRIVING LICENCE WHEN YOU TAKE BOTH THE THEORY AND PRACTICAL DRIVING TESTS - IF YOU DO NOT PRODUCE YOUR LICENCE YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO TAKE EITHER TEST AND YOU WILL LOSE THE FEE YOU HAVE PAID FOR THE TEST

You must replace your driving licence if it has been lost, stolen, defaced or destroyed.

You must also report changes in your circumstances that affect your driving licence.

Foreign Licence Holders

If you already hold a driving licence issued in another country, there are some quite complex rules as to whether you are able to drive in the UK. For full details on these rules, please see GOV.UK-Driving In GB On A Non-GB Licence

The differences between automatic and manual cars
The differences between automatic and manual cars | Source

Automatic Or Manual Cars?

What's the difference between learning to drive in a manual car and learning to drive in an automatic car?

Very simply put, these are the differences between manual and automatic cars:

  • A manual car has gears and three foot pedals, including the clutch that is operated with the left foot. You have to change up and down the gears yourself by operating the clutch pedal and the gear lever. If you pass your driving test in a manual transmission car, your driving licence will permit you to drive both manual and automatic transmission vehicles.
  • An automatic car has an automatic gearbox that changes the gears for you and only two foot pedals which are operated with the right foot. This makes learning in an automatic a popular choice by learners who find it difficult to get used to the gears and clutch when driving a manual car or for older or disabled learner drivers. If you pass the practical driving test in an automatic car you will not be licensed to drive a manual. If you pass in a manual you can drive both legally.

Most people learn to drive in a manual car.

There are far more driving instructors who teach in manual cars than teach in automatic cars, so it may be more difficult to find an instructor and lessons in an automatic car tend to be more expensive.

Although it may seem far easier to not have to worry about gears and a clutch pedal, in reality, most people have few problems mastering them and after you pass your driving test, there is a much wider range of vehicles available than if your restrict yourself to automatic.

How much does learning to drive cost?
How much does learning to drive cost? | Source

How Much Does Learning To Drive Cost?

How much does it cost to learn to drive?

There's no simple answer and no magic formula to work it out...it depends on lots of things!

The overall cost of learning to drive will vary from one person to another. Variables include whether you fail your Theory or Practical tests and have to take them again, what area of the country you live in (as driving lesson prices vary throughout the country), how many lessons you need, whether you can get any private practice, etc.

Here's some of the most important things you should take into account:

  • Driving licence: Everyone who wants to learn to drive legally in the UK MUST have a valid provisional driving licence. The current cost of a UK provisional licence is £43 if you apply by post or £34 if you apply online. As this is a fee payable to a Government department it's not negotiable and it's unavoidable. Once you pass your test though, your provisional licence is upgraded to a full licence for no further cost.
  • Test Fees: Also unavoidable and non-negotiable are the costs of the two statutory tests. Currently (2017) the Theory Test costs £23.00 and the Practical Test costs £62.00 on weekdays during the daytime, or £75.00 weekday evenings and weekends.
  • Insurance: If you don't take lessons with a driving instructor, you need to ensure that the vehicle you are using is properly insured for you to learn in it, which may entail some cost.
  • Driving lesson prices: If you take lessons from a driving instructor, the fees charged for lessons vary throughout the country and from instructor to instructor. Many instructors will give some kind of discount to those paying in advance and block booking a course of lessons rather than paying as you go. Some will also give other discounts such as discounted introductory lessons or discounts for students or those in certain types of low income professions etc. Discounts are entirely at the discretion of the individual instructor or driving school, but it's worth asking whether any discounts are offered. See my page How To Choose A Driving Instructor for more advice on what to look for when deciding which instructor you're going to learn to drive with.

Remember - both the Theory Test and the Practical Driving Test are very challenging and require a significant amount of preparation. Don't under-estimate what is involved. Thorough preparation and a realistic approach to the cost, timescale, complexity and your own level of competence is far more cost effective than inadequate preparation and/or taking the tests before you are ready!

How many driving lessons will I need?
How many driving lessons will I need? | Source

How Many Driving Lessons Will I Need?

How long will it take me to learn to drive?

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have stated:

"On average, people who pass their driving test have had 47 hours of driving lessons with a driving instructor and 20 hours of private practice."

In reality, everyone is different and learns at their own pace - some people will need longer and some people will be able to learn more quickly.

Your driving instructor will be able to advise you how many hours tuition overall you are likely to need as your lessons progress.

IMPORTANT

If you are learning to drive with someone other than a registered driving instructor, the vehicle you use MUST BE INSURED SPECIFICALLY FOR DRIVING TUITION USE

"Ordinary" car insurance policies do NOT cover use by learner drivers

Are YOU Learning To Drive? - How are you learning?

How are you learning to drive?

See results

Video Driving Lessons

Get started by watching how the basics of driving are done!

The following videos have been made by a fully qualified and experienced driving instructor & are intended to supplement your professional driving tuition.

Your own driving instructor may teach these subjects slightly differently - remember there's more than one way to end up with the right result!

If you are in doubt about any aspect of learning to drive, always discuss your concerns with your driving instructor!

How To Make The Car Move & Stop

How To Steer A Car

How To Change Gear

How To Move Away

Passing Your Driving Test

There are two tests you must take and pass before you will be given a full driving licence

The Theory test is the first of the two tests learner drivers must pass before being issued with a full driving licence
The Theory test is the first of the two tests learner drivers must pass before being issued with a full driving licence | Source

Theory Test

The Theory test is the first of the two tests you will need to pass in order to get a full driving licence.

Learner drivers will need to show a thorough knowledge of driving theory subjects including road signs, traffic laws, first aid and the Highway Code. Theory tests are conducted in dedicated Theory Test Centres throughout the country and the test comprises two sections: 50 questions with a choice of answers and a video based hazard perception test. The two parts of the test follow on from each other and are taken on a touch screen computer.

Candidates must score at least 43 out of 50 on the multiple choice part and at least 44 out of 75 on the hazard perception part. If either part of the test is failed, both parts must be taken again, and candidates will need to pay the fee of £23.00 and book another appointment to take the test again.

You can find out more about the Theory test, what's involved and how to prepare and study for it by reading my Driving Theory Test page

The Practical driving test is the second of the two tests learner drivers must pass before being issued with a full driving licence
The Practical driving test is the second of the two tests learner drivers must pass before being issued with a full driving licence

Practical Test

Once the Theory test has been passed, you can then apply for a date to take your Practical test.

Tests are conducted at Practical Test Centres situated throughout the country and can be taken at a test centre of your choice, An examiner from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will accompany you while you drive and will test whether you can meet the standards of driving required by the DVSA in order to be issued with a full driving licence which will allow you to drive unsupervised.

Test candidates will need to show that they can control the car and drive safely and considerately, obeying traffic laws and road signs and markings. The test lasts for around 40 minutes and the examiner will expect a high standard of driving to be shown.

You can find out full details of what you will have to do in the test on my Practical driving test page

Learner Driver Comments & Questions - Amy comments or questions about any aspect of learning to drive in the UK? Ask below and we'll do our best to help...

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    • Deeann56 profile image

      Deeann56 4 years ago

      @anonymous: my cousin does it in holsworthy devon don't know how far away you are from there - i can give you his details if you like

    • profile image

      Truthmusica 5 years ago

      very helpful, thanx a lot...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      "Smashing Job" with this lens! Bloody Well Done!

      .....I think I'll keep taking the bus.

      Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Great information and videos. Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image
      Author

      LouiseKirkpatrick 8 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      @ Joanna - do a search on Google (or whatever search engine you use!) for "trailer towing in X" (X being your nearest town) and you should find what you're looking for. You won't need to take a test (category B E) if you've held a full driving licence for 30 years!

      If you live in Berkshire, I can recommend a company that offers trailer towing training!

      CDT

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      where can I learn to drive safely pullliing a trailer. I've held a regular licence for around 30 years, but never towed a trailer.

    • Suzie-Shine profile image

      Suzie-Shine 8 years ago

      That's a mighty fine lens. Leaves me quite weak to think how much effort you must have put into producing it. I only really enjoy driving once I get out of the London traffic.

      Suzie

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You're officially blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very comprehensive lens. *****

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 8 years ago

      The driving test is so much more difficult in the UK than the US. Not sure if it improves the standard of driving though once people have passed.

      Congratulations on joining the Giant Squid family

    • profile image

      MrMarmalade 8 years ago

      Incidentally I have top five Stars ***** and fav you

    • profile image

      MrMarmalade 8 years ago

      We went to London and Val,s brother picked us up at the airport, to drive us back to his home. We had traveled for two hours and passed the Gillette building three times,

      I said to BiL that he might be lost and it would be better to let me drive and he read the map. He agreed. I found it a great time driving in UK.

      Last Sat, we went to the wedding of of nephew twice removed. His mother (Our Niece) was taught to drive be a driving instructor. The driving was so great they got married and here was are 35 Years latter on of their children was married.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image
      Author

      LouiseKirkpatrick 9 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi Louise

      If you want to practise your driving with an accompanying driver, the accompanying driver must be over the age of 21 and must have held (and still hold) a full licence, in the relevant vehicle category, for three years and the vehicle used must display 'L' plates and be properly insured to allow a learner to drive it.

      If you are having lessons in a manual car, and you will be practicing in an automatic, you are likely to find this very confusing. Driving an automatic is very different from driving a manual!

      So strictly speaking, yes, your partner can take you out to practice as your provisional licence covers you to drive both manual and automatic cars, but I think it might be counter-productive for you as you will have to cope with driving a car you are unfamiliar with and which requires a totally different approach.

      Here's a helpful link about accompanying learners -

      RoSPA

      Hope this helps

      CDT

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      my i am learning to drive in a manual car, my partner has a automatic liecence can he take me out