From lessons, to setting up your car insurance, learning to drive is a big step. So, it helps to know as much about it as possible before getting started...
- Before you take lessons, you need to apply for a provisional licence, which costs around £40
- You can practice outside your lessons with a driver who is over 21 years old, has a full licence and has been driving for three years
- To get your full licence, you also need to pass a theory and practical test, and pay the associated fees
- Car insurance for a learner driver is easy to set up, but make sure you give your insurer all the information they need
From driving test tips to advice on how to reduce the anxiety of driving as a learner, our guide will take you through the process.
How do I start learning to drive?
It’s easy to start learning to drive but you need to make sure you have the right documentation and safety measures in place.
What do I need to get started?
Before you start learning to drive, you need to apply for a provisional licence. This costs around £40, depending on whether you want to purchase online or have it posted to you. If you’re applying online, all you need to do is provide your:
- Addresses you’ve lived in over the past three years
- National insurance number
Find a fully-qualified instructor
Check online to find a list of driving schools and lessons in your local area. It’s important to make sure they’re fully-qualified before you get in contact.
Approved instructors should be listed on the Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) list. If not, you can contact the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) directly, to see if they are.
Once you know they’re qualified, see if there are any reviews on their website or Google Business Listing. Word of mouth can also be helpful to see if people have had a positive experience. Learning to drive can be a challenging process so it’s important to have an instructor you respond well to.
How much do driving lessons cost?
On average, driving lessons cost around £23 per hour but will vary between instructors.
You also need to pay for both your theory and practical tests. As of December 2019, theory tests cost £23, while the practical test is £62 on weekdays, £75 on evenings, weekends and bank holidays. This can fluctuate over time.
How many lessons to learn to drive?
It takes 47 hours of lessons, on average, to pass the practical test. This is normally spread out over a number of weeks or months, but intensive driving courses are also available, helping you to learn within one or two weeks.
Everyone is different though. People learn at different paces and it depends on how comfortable you are behind the wheel before your instructor will recommend you take your test.
Thinking about learning to drive and want a little guidance on how to get started? Our guide takes you through the process from start to finish.
What should I do once I’ve started to learn?
Once you’ve started driving lessons, there’s a few things you can do to help the learning process along:
Learn the highway code and take practice tests
It’s essential to know the basics of road rules, signage and safety. One way you can do this is by reading up on the highway code. This will give you the up-to-date rules and regulations you’ll need to know when you’re driving. Learning this will also help you get some much-needed practice in ahead of your theory test.
Your instructor will cover most of this during your lessons but it’s good to know the basics before you start.
You can also take mock theory tests online. These will give you an indication of what driving will be like and what you need to look out for.
Practice when you can with a fully insured driver
Getting more practice outside of your lessons can be extremely helpful when you’re learning to drive. It’ll help get you out of a formal learning setting and can also help reduce the anxiety of driving – something that is natural while you’re learning.
If you do this, the person you’re practicing with must be:
- Over 21 years of age
- Have had their full drivers licence for three years
- Qualified to drive the type of vehicle you’re learning in – if you’re doing a manual driving test, that person must have a driving licence that covers this type of car
Get to know everything about your car
Getting to know the vehicle you’re learning in will make things so much easier when you’re driving, doing your test and looking after your own car when you eventually pass.
Ask your instructor questions about the basic things they perhaps won’t cover in lessons. Helpful questions to ask might be:
- Which side of the car is the fuel cap? – the direction of the arrow next to the fuel gauge will usually tell you but it’s good to check.
- Where is the locking wheel nut key? – these are used to unscrew the nuts on a car wheel and are useful when changing tyres. They are usually kept in the glove box or in the boot.
- What pressure should tyres be? – you’ll find this information on the inside of the driver’s side door or printed on the inside of your petrol cap. This will help if you’re re-inflating tyres when you get your own car.
- Is the car front or rear-wheel drive? – rear-wheel drive cars generally have less grip on slippery surfaces – useful to know when you’re driving in poor conditions.
What do I need to know about my driving test?
Once you’re ready to take on your driving test , it’s useful to know exactly what you’ll be asked to do in order to get your full licence. Here’s how the test is split and what’ll happen on the days you’re being tested:
What happens in the theory test?
Your theory test will take place in one of several theory test centres across the UK. You have to pass this before you can take your practical test.
The test consists of two parts:
Multiple choice questions
You’ll be given a set amount of time – usually around an hour - to answer 50 questions on road safety , the highway code and real-life driving situations. You can flag questions to come back to later and change your answers before the time is up.
You’ll be given a quick intro video to how the test works. Then, you’ll go through 14 video clips, which will play out a real-life driving scenario. You have to click using your mouse to spot potential hazards, before they become dangerous.
What happens in the practical test?
Your driving test will start at a test centre and you’ll sit with a qualified driving examiner. You can also choose to have your driving instructor come along with you in the car if you wish. The test consists of five parts:
- Eyesight test – before you start driving, your examiner will ask you to read the number plate of a parked vehicle at the test centre from a distance. This is important, as if you fail here, you won’t be able to participate in the rest of your practical test.
- ‘Show me’ ‘Tell me’ vehicle questions – while you’re driving, your examiner will ask you vehicle safety questions and ask you to use some of the car’s controls – such as fog lights or demisters. This is designed to show that you can cope with distractions.
- General driving ability – throughout the test, you’ll be marked on your ability to drive safely and competently. This includes things like checking your mirrors, adhering to signs and speed limits and indicating at the right times.
- Reversing – you’ll be asked to perform a few driving manoeuvres, including reversing in and out of a parking bay and parallel parking. This is to demonstrate that you have the ability to do this in a real-life driving situation.
- Independent driving – this will be 20 minutes where you’ll be asked to drive to a particular destination, without the help of your examiner. You’ll be asked to follow the instructions of a sat nav during this part of the test. Your examiner will set up the route and then you’ll follow it.
Once you’re the proud owner of a full UK driving licence, you will need to update your car insurance. The policy you’ll have had as a provisional driver won’t be valid once you’ve passed your test. You may not get your physical new licence for a number of days, but this won’t stop you getting a valid policy.
Insurance for learner drivers
Can learner drivers go on their parent's insurance?
Yes, they can. You can add someone to your own existing car insurance policy at any time, but it's important to be honest when setting up learner driver insurance (or adding a learner driver to your insurance), to make sure you're not 'fronting'. Fronting is when someone is added to a car insurance policy as a secondary or named driver, but they’re actually the main driver. For example, if you added a learner driver to your own insurance policy as a named driver - rather than getting the younger driver their own policy - you would need to be clear about who drives the car the most and who is the registered owner. To add a learner driver to your insurance as a named driver if they are in fact the main driver, is considered as fraud and is illegal.
How do I add a learner driver to my insurance?
Yes you can. In many instances you may decide that adding a friend or relative permanently onto your policy is the best option, however, temporarily adding a driver or vehicle to your LV= car insurance policy may be a preferred option if the named driver is only using your car for the short term - such as while they learn to drive.
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