There are more than 45 million drivers on the roads in the UK, and counting – but to be part of the club you have to first get your driving licence.
Acquiring your driving licence can be a lengthy (and expensive) process, but there’s no need to feel daunted.
In this comprehensive guide, we answer your questions about learning to drive and outline all the steps you need to take to pass your test.
Before you can even think about driving, some admin needs doing – you need to apply for your provisional driving licence.
When can you apply for a provisional driving licence?
You can do this at any time once you’re over 15 years and nine months old but it only becomes valid when you turn 16.
What does your provisional licence allow you to do?
With a provisional licence you can:
At 16 begin the process of learning to ride a moped or light quad bike
At 17 begin the process of learning to drive a car
Drive in a car without a driving instructor or someone else who fits the legal criteria
How do you apply for a provisional licence and how much does it cost?
The easiest way to apply is through the provisional driving licence page on the official GOV UK website.
To get a provisional licence you will need:
To be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away
Provide a legitimate form of ID (normally a passport)
Provide addresses for where you have lived over the last three years
Pay £34 by credit or debit card
Your provisional licence should arrive within a week.
At the same time, it’s a good idea to start reading the Highway Code and begin familiarising yourself with it in preparation for step four, taking your theory test.
Finding a good driving instructor is invaluable.
While it might be tempting to save money and ask a friend or relative to teach you, it could be a false economy.
An expert will have a much better idea of what’s expected from you in the test, and the ability to improve your skills over time – and save heated arguments with your friends and family in the process.
Also, a fully qualified teacher will have their own car to teach you in which will have dual controls.
Dual controls are where the instructor has their own clutch and brake pedals in the passenger footwell, and are able to take over or help out with the controls if they feel you need it at any point.
The most important thing when picking an instructor is choosing someone who makes you feel comfortable and happy in the driver’s seat, remember you may be spending potentially 40 hours in a car together!
If you do choose a friend or family member they will have to be over the age of 21 and have held a licence for at least three years.
Where to find a good instructor
The best way of finding a good instructor is through recommendations.
If you’re a young driver, you’ll probably know lots of people who are learning to drive at the same time – ask them if they’d recommend their instructor.
If you cannot find anyone suitable on recommendation then you can use the Approved Driving Instructor page on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) website.
This database locates all of the approved instructors local to your area, all you need to do is type in your post code.
How much should I pay for driving lessons?
Typically, free mock theory test instructors charge around £20 to £25 per hour for instruction.
The average learner driver requires around 45 hours of lessons before being test-ready, but everyone learns at different rates.
Should I learn in a manual or an automatic?
When looking for an instructor consider what car they use. Is it a manual or an automatic?
While automatics are easier to drive, you won’t legally be able to drive a manual if you pass in an automatic.
Unless you’ve got disabilities preventing you from driving a manual, a manual licence will offer you more flexibility in the future and you can normally find much cheaper manual cars for your first car.
For more information to help you choose whether you want to go manual or automatic, read our pages advice pages:
How to drive a manual car
How to drive an automatic car
Do I need learner driver insurance?
The average learner requires 20 hours of additional practice outside of their driving theory test uk lessons, so if you’re practicing with family or friends to complement your lessons you may want to consider learner driver insurance.
Learner driver insurance offers flexible short-term cover and can often be purchased by the day, week or month, and in some cases by the hour for learners wishing to practice on a more ad-hoc basis.
This additional practice will normally be done in either yours, a friend’s or a parent’s car, meaning you will need to be insured as you are behind the wheel without an instructor.
You will also need to be accompanied by a qualified driver who is appropriately insured on the vehicle you’re learning in.