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Date updated: 25th February 2018.
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Learning to drive, when should I learn now or later?
As a DVSA ADI, I am often asked by parents and potential learners (17-18-year-olds) whether they are best to learn to drive now or should they wait until they are older, often when they have returned from college or university.
There are numerous questions for the potential learner to consider before deciding what is best for them, learn now or later?
The main questions in my experience are:
(1) Does the potential learner need their driving licence now? Or can the learner wait to learn to drive until they actually need their driving licence?
(2) The costs involved in learning to drive and whether or not these can be afforded at the moment?
(3) Will the learner be able to afford the car insurance when they pass their driving test?
There is no simple answer to the above, as everyone’s situation is different.
The following are my own observations and experiences (20 years experience as an ADI), which will hopefully help you make the right decision.
(1) Firstly does the potential learner actually need a full driving licence now?
It is tempting to think of leaving learning to drive until the driving licence is actually needed, however, is this really the best option? Let me give you a couple of examples that I experienced in the autumn of 2012.
(a) I received a phone call inquiring about driving lessons from someone who had finished their university course. They had now returned home and were now looking for a job in their chosen profession. Unfortunately, after applying for numerous jobs they had been unable to even get any interviews.
When they enquired with some of the potential employers about why they weren’t getting an interview. They were told that during the course of their work they would need to make their own way to different locations at short notice. This would not be practical for someone without a full driving licence and transport. The employers, therefore, would not even consider an application from someone without a full driving licence!
(b) Another pupil contacted me to arrange driving lessons. They had also finished university and had managed to find work on a management training program with a national company. Although the location of their work was very close to their home they were told that they would not be considered for promotion until they had their full driving licence. This was because they would need to be able to visit other branches at short notice and without their own transport, this would be very difficult?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Both of the above pupils passed their driving tests. However, both really wished they had learned earlier, i.e. before going to university.
When looking at the costs involved in learning to drive I cannot see that in the short or medium term that these costs are going to do anything other than rising. We currently have a very competitive market for driving tuition (2016) with the costs of driving lessons hardly haven risen in the last few years. My belief is that the relative cost of driving lessons will rise noticeably over the next few years due to increasing costs.
Therefore if you learn to drive now, it is likely to cost you a lot less than leaving learning to drive in a few years’ time.
(3) Finally the cost of car insurance.
As we all know this is a major problem for many young drivers. There are however things that you can do to minimise these costs. Adding a parent as a named driver to the policy. Agreeing to a mileage limit or times of day the vehicle can be driven to keep the premiums down.
Even if the young driver does not have a car when they first pass, the longer they have their licence before they insure a car the cheaper the insurance becomes. This is because most insurers add an amount to the cost of the insurance policy for inexperienced drivers. This loading is usually based only on the length of time the driving licence has been held!
My own view derived from all of the above is where possible it is better to learn now, rather than postponing learning to drive until later.
Your Online Driving Test Expert.
At 4testpass.com we are supporters of the work done on road safety by the organisations listed below.
The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales and is essential reading for everyone.
Rule 95: Alcohol
Do not drink and drive as it will seriously affect your judgement and abilities. You MUST NOT drive with a breath alcohol level higher than 35 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of more than 80 milligrammes/100 millilitres of blood.
Give a false sense of confidence.
Reduce coordination and slow down reactions.
Effect judgement of speed, distance and risk.
Reduce your driving ability, even if you’re below the legal limit.
Take time to leave your body; you may be unfit to drive in the evening after drinking at lunchtime, or in the morning after drinking the previous evening.
The best solution is not to drink at all when planning to drive because any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive safely. So if you are going to drink, arrange another means of transport.