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You want to learn to drive, but where do you start, should you contact a driving school, take and pass your theory test or apply for your provisional driving licence first?
Date updated: 7th September 2016
The first step is to apply for your UK provisional driving licence. We would suggest doing this online as it is much quicker than other methods. Before you apply we suggest reading through the guidelines below:
To get your first provisional driving licence online for a car, motorcycle or moped you need to:
be a resident of Great Britain (there’s a different service in Northern Ireland).
meet the minimum age requirement.
not be prevented from driving for any reason.
pay £50 by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card.
have a valid UK passport or other form of identity.
have your National Insurance number if known.
provide addresses where you have lived for the last 3 years.
You can apply up to 3 months before you can start driving. You can normally start driving on your 17th birthday if you want to drive a car and your 16th birthday if you want to drive a motorcycle or moped.
If you’re getting the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you can drive at 16.
The first choice you will need to make is how and who are you going to learn with. The choices are:
Paid lessons with a fully qualified DVSA Approved Driving Instructor (DVSA ADI).
Learning with friends and family.
A mixture of the two above. Taking paid driving lessons with an ADI, plus private driving practice with family or friends.
In most instances the last option will be the best. You learn the correct way to drive from a professional (ADI) but save money by practicing with family or friends.
Please note if you do wish to learn or practice with family or friends you will need The Private Driving Practice Handbook to make sure that you are legal and that your practice or lessons are carried out correctly so that you can pass the current UK practical driving test. We say current test as the practical driving test has changed enormously over the years.
Paid Lessons (choosing an DVSA ADI).
The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are the government department that sets the driving tests and is also the governing body who overseas Approved Driving Instructors. Please note it is illegal for anyone other than an DVSA ADI to charge for driving lessons, so if in doubt ask to see their ADI badge. This must be displayed in the front window of the tuition car when a lesson is taking place.
So how do you choose an DVSA ADI?
We would suggest that word of mouth is always a good starting point, so ask friends or neighbors for any recommendations. If you can’t get any recommendations or you have a few to choose from you will need to think about how you are going to choose. It’s worth considering the following:
The Driving Instructors Experience (experience really does count when it comes to you getting good tuition).
Pass rate. After all you don’t just want to learn to drive you also want to pass your driving test!
Availability (will they be able to do lessons when you are available).
The instructors ADI grade 4,5 or 6 with 6 the highest.
Price of lessons.
This almost needs a chapter all to itself, but in brief:
Cheap driving lessons.
Can mean cheap quality lessons and you will need a lot more of these to pass your test. This will end up costing you a lot more time and money. Very expensive lessons may just mean that you are paying for a very expensive tuition car and lots of advertising. A good instructor will often charge a lesson price between the two.
Advertising or recommendations.
You will see some driving schools cover their cars with their details and advertise everywhere they can. You have to ask yourself why they need to do this rather than rely on the past and present pupils recommending them to their friends. The biggest advertisement does not necessarily mean they are a good, reliable, experience instructor!
From experience i would suggest that the best instructors are generally independent driving schools of only one or two instructors, rather than the larger or national driving schools.
A good instructor (DVSA ADI) will save you a lot of time and money so take your time and choose wisely.
Learning to drive with friends and family.
This is always an attractive option however it certainly does not work for everyone, in fact i would suggest that only a very small Private driving practice handbook extract “your aims”percentage of those learning to drive today will learn solely with family or friends. Most will also take lessons from a professional driving instructor (ADI). This is due to a number of reasons.
It is unlikely that most people who have not undergone the extensive training that an ADI undergoes will have the skills and experience to teach everything required to pass the UK practical driving test. Even if the person accompanying the learner believes they do have these skills they will still need the expert advice from The Private Driving Practice Handbook.
Arguments! Learning to drive with family or friends can be very stressful as both the learner and accompanying driver are doing something new to them which they have no experience in.
Legal requirements. There are various legal requirements such as the correct car insurance and age of accompanying driver etc to comply with.
But don’t dismiss this method without some careful thought, as learning with parents or practicing your driving outside of driving lessons really can help that is if it is done correctly.
Why not download The Private Driving Practice Handbook which contains all the information you will need. Click here to get your copy.
Learning To Drive Books and Downloads. Do They Help?
Our aim here is to look at whether you should buy (and use) books, e-books/downloads, CD’s DVDs and revision cards. Or would you be better to save this money and instead spend it on more driving lessons?
Most people naturally want to save money where possible. This can lead to learners deciding not to spend money on learning resources, as they seem like an unnecessary expense. However this could prove to be an expensive mistake, costing the learner a lot more money rather than saving any.
Let’s look at another area of learning.
As an example of the importance of reference books. Imagine you are studying for you’re A levels (possibly you are). You attend the classes and pay attention to the teacher; however between lessons you have no text books available to you. This is going too severely restrict your ability to complete homework or study between lessons. Relying solely on the class lessons is not going to enable you to keep up with the rest of the class if they are working between lessons. The result is likely to be poorer grades, than those who are able to study correctly. You only need to see the amount of books students carry with them when attending schools or colleges to realise the importance placed on reference books by teachers.
So what books etc should you buy and why?
First I would suggest that every driver should have an up to date Highway Code, as this pass your 2013 theory testcontains important information that the learner should be familiar with, ideally it should be read even before driving lessons are started. This will also be very useful when it comes to studying for the theory and hazard perception tests. Next would be one of the many Learning to Drive Books or CD’s DVDs. Again I would suggest buying this before starting lessons, as it will enable the learner to study the topic of their next lesson. This will mean that the learner is more prepared for their lessons, which will enable them to reach their goal of passing the Driving Test quicker and needing fewer lessons. The result will be a saving on the overall cost of learning to drive and passing the driving test.
“Thank you for the Theory Facts & Figures Cards, they are such a good idea and so simple to use” Katie, pass her theory test 1st time.
Save yourself £££s
Finally I would strongly suggest downloading the specially prepared Driving Test Secret Revision Cards or the new “Secret” digital iPhone download.
These will enable the learner to recall key facts they have already learned even under the pressure of the driving test. So is it worth spending a few ££s on learning to drive books? The answer has got to be a resounding yes, as you are likely to save many times the cost of the download on extra driving lessons and expensive tests.
“These revision cards really helped. I wasn’t anywhere near as nervous as I thought I would be. I will recommend them to all my friends”. Alice. Passed 1st time!
Preparing well/correctly for driving lessons and the driving test really will be worth it.