A Guide to Learning to Drive

Emergency-stop-scrolling - here is your one-stop shop, complete guide to everything you will need when you're learning to drive. So whether you're looking to start learning to drive or about to take your test and want to do a bit of revision - every question you may have about learning to drive will be answered in this guide.

Things to Consider Before Learning to Drive

Should I learn to drive?

This is probably the first question to ask yourself before you go any further! Driving can bring you a lot of freedom and opportunities that you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of if you couldn’t drive so whoever you are, whatever age you are, there are plenty of reasons to learn to drive. That doesn’t change the fact that learning to drive can be very expensive though, so it’s important to think about ways to save money whilst learning to drive.

When should I learn to drive?

You should learn to drive when you have the time and money to be able to commit to taking lessons and practicing regularly enough to learn and build your knowledge so you haven’t forgotten what you learned in the last lesson. Lessons and practicing in your own or a borrowed car can provide a good balance so that you can learn as quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Other than that, you can learn to drive any time after your 17th birthday!

When can I apply for my provisional licence?

You can apply for your Provisional Driving Licence up to 3 months before you turn 17. You can apply for this online on the DVLA website. Although it’s important to remember that even if you receive your Provisional Licence before you turn 17, you can’t start learning how to drive on public roads until you turn 17. 

How much does a provisional licence cost?

The cost of a provisional licence is currently £17 but this can change so it’s always best to check these things on https://www.gov.uk/apply-first-provisional-driving-licence.

Am I too old to learn to drive?

You’re never too old to learn to drive, and it can be a liberating experience whenever you decide to learn. If you want to learn more about the challenges and advantages of learning to drive when you’re a little older you can read more here about learning to drive when you’re older.

How long does it take to learn to drive?

It completely depends on the person. There is no required minimum amount of hours or maximum amount of hours you can spend learning, so don’t worry if it’s taking you longer or if you need more lessons to learn how to drive than some of your friends. On average according to the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) it takes 45 hours of lessons and an additional 22 hours of practice outside of your driving lessons. You can read on to find out more about how long it takes to learn how to drive.

How much does learning to drive cost?

Learning to drive can be expensive but there are ways to make it more affordable. The average cost for a driving lesson in the UK is £24 but this can vary a lot depending on how long the lessons are, and whether you buy them in bulk or individually. The best alternative to complement your driving lessons and help you to learn to drive and pass your test quicker and cheaper is to practice in your own car or borrow a parent’s car. You can also read about more ways to save money whilst learning to drive or you can get a quote for learner driver insurance for anywhere between 1 day and 1 year, and it only takes 30 seconds.

Should I take an intensive driving course?

Intensive driving courses have become increasingly popular over recent years with more and more people deciding to try and learn to drive and pass their test in as little as a week. However, there are definite downsides of learning in this way. Firstly, learning in the space of a week you will be taught how to try and pass the test, and not necessarily how to drive safely and you certainly won’t experience as many different situations as you would by learning through normal lessons and practice. You are unlikely to experience driving in different weather conditions and this can make it a lot more daunting when you then have to experience driving in rain or snow for the first time, without the comfort of having an instructor there to guide you through it. Moreover, intensive driving courses require an upfront payment and can cost upwards of £1,000. Whereas normal lessons and learning in your own or someone else’s car, you can pay for lessons as you have them, or insure yourself to learn in a car on a daily or weekly basis. In your own time for your own convenience and at your own pace which will give you a far broader experience of driving and help make you a better driver, not just rushing you to pass your test. We have a dedicated page to the pros and cons of doing an intensive driving course for you to make a more informed decision if you're considering learning to drive via this method.

How do I find a driving instructor?

Finding a good driving instructor can be tricky. The best way to find a good driving instructor is often still through word of mouth, so if you have any friends or family members who have recently learned to drive, ask them if they'd recommend their driving instructor. If you can't get any recommendations by word of mouth you have to broaden your search to online by searching for driving instructors in your area and looking for reviews. There are lots of things to consider when deciding on a driving instructor, and getting the right one for you can be crucial in saving you time and money when learning to drive. We have a dedicated page that does into more details on what to consider when deciding on a driving instructor

Should I learn to drive with a family member?

Learning to drive with a family member can save you a lot of money compared to learning to drive with a driving instructor, but it does come with its downsides. A parent or friend is less likely to be able to help you with the specific details and routines that you should follow when learning to drive as they're more likely to be laidback about the things that learners need to pick up when you're learning to drive. This is why we always recommend the balance of both. Have lessons with a driving instructor, they will teach you the basics that you need, and then you can practice these basics whilst being supervised by a parent or eligible sibling. Read on to find out more about why driving lessons and private practice work in perfect harmony.

What's the best car for a learner driver?

There is no one answer to this question, but you should try to make sure you learn how to drive in a car you feel comfortable in and importantly is road-safe and has a full MOT. It is also worth considering whether you want to learn to drive in a manual or automatic car. If you learn to drive in a manual and pass the manual driving test you can always drive in an automatic after, but if you learn in an automatic then you can’t drive a manual car, so it’s best to keep this in mind when making your choice! We also have a dedicated post about whether you should learn to drive in an automatic or a manual if you'd like to read more.

Should I learn to drive in my own car or a borrowed car?

You can learn to drive in either your own car, or in a borrowed car, and you can get learner driver insurance to practice in either. If you have your own car then it may be worth learning in that as that is the car that you will likely be driving in after you pass your test. However, if you don't own a car, you don't need to rush out and buy one, and you could learn to drive in a borrowed car instead. It's really up to you. On average it is slightly cheaper to get learner driver insurance for a borrowed car than it is for one you own. You can check this out for yourself by getting a quote in a few seconds. If you want to read more about whether to learn to drive in your own car or learning to drive in a borrowed car you can check out our dedicated pages to each, with the pros and cons of both.

Does learning in someone else’s car affect their no claims bonus?

If you are added onto a family member’s or friend’s policy as a learner driver this can affect their no claims bonus if you were to have an accident in their car. However, it does not affect their no claims bonus if you take out a separate policy altogether just to insure you as a learner driver on their car. You can get a quote in seconds for this here with the peace of mind that you won’t be affecting anyone else’s insurance policy. For all the details about learning to drive in someone else's car we have a dedicated page with all the pros and cons of doing so.

Who can accompany me in the car whilst I’m learning?

It’s important to make sure that when you’re learning to drive that you are accompanied by someone over the age of 21 who has held their licence for at least 3 years and who is fully insured on the vehicle you will be learning in. Alongside their insurance you also need insurance for the vehicle that you’re driving in, and you can get learner driver insurance here that won’t affect the owner’s policy or no claims bonus. We offer learner driver policies for any amount of time from 1 day, 1 week all the way up to 1 year.

Everything You Need to Know About Theory Tests

Theory tests can be confusing if you don't know what to expect, and they always slip some people up if they're unprepared. So to make sure you are prepared, we are going to cover everything related to theory tests here for you. From how to book a theory test, all the way to passing it. We've got you covered. In theory, anyway.

How To Book A Theory Test

You need to pass your theory test before you're able to take your practical driving test so it'll really be a stumbling block if you can't figure out how to book it. First of all you need to find your local theory test centre, and you can do that on the gov website. Once you've found your local theory test centre you can then book your theory test. You should always do this through the official government website for it, which is here. If you book it through another website you risk paying more, as some websites will charge more for booking it through them. Car theory tests cost £23, but these prices can change so just check on the government website before booking it to see how much it's gonna cost you.

How To Move or Cancel A Theory Test

You might need to move the date of your theory test or cancel your theory test completely if you know you won't be able to make the date that you've booked. If you need to do this the government website has a portal for doing this on the links above. 

When Should I Book My Theory Test?

There is no one answer as to when to book your theory test. It's important that you're ready to take it and knowledgeable enough to be able to pass the test, but you also don't want to wait too long so that it holds up you being able to take your practical driving test. The best option is to speak to your driving instructor about it, as they will have the best idea on your progress, how much time you may need, and how long the waiting times are for booking theory tests near you. So definitely speak to your driving instructor and make sure they feel you're ready to do the theory test before you book it. 

What Is In The Theory Test?

The Theory Test is split between multiple choice questions and the hazard perception test. The multiple choice questions are based on three books:

  • The Highway Code
  • Know Your Traffic Signs
  • Driving - The Essential Skills

You can get these 3 books online, or from lots of bookstores. Alternatively, if you know someone who has learned to drive recently you may be able to borrow them from them! So get asking around, or check in a local library and you may be able to save some money. The pass mark for the multiple-choice section of the theory test is 43 out of a possible 50 marks, so make sure you're familiar with the content as you can't afford to get too many questions incorrect! To help you revise and build your confidence before you take the test we've created a guide so you can learn how to ace the multiple choice theory test.

The next section of the theory test is the hazard perception test where you will have to spot hazards and give the correct answers of how you should react. You can watch a video on how the hazard perception test works so you know what to expect before you do the test. On the day you'll watch 14 video clips of everyday road scenes, and you will have to identify developing hazards and click on them, in order to get marks. You can get up to 5 marks for identifying each developing hazard, based on the speed of identifying it. The pass mark for the hazard perception part of the test is 44 out of a possible 75 points, so make sure you correctly identify as many developing hazards as you can. We have also made a dedicated guide so you can find out how to ace the hazard perception test if you still want to find out more.

You can get the guide for the hazard perception test from any of the following links in different formats:

If you want more details on these or how to access resources for these guides in other languages you can look on the government portal for theory tests.

What Happens After I Finish My Theory Test?

If you pass your theory test you'll be given a theory test pass certificate number, which you will need in order to book a practical driving test at a later date.This is eligible for 2 years, so if you'd pass your practical driving test in that time you will have to pass your theory test again. If you failed your theory test you will get a letter telling you which sections you scored what points on, so you can take this into account and try to practice what you need to improve on for next time. You will have to rebook your test, and you it can be no sooner than 3 days after you previously took the test. 

Step-by-Step Guides: Manoeuvres, Roads and Hazards

In this section we will be doing a three-point turn into covering everything that you need to know about driving manoeuvres, road types and hazards. So whether you're anxious about attempting your first parallel park or whether you want to do some revision on dual carriageways before your driving test - we'll be covering everything you need to know, step-by-step.

Parallel Parking

We might as well start at the daunting one. Parallel parking is a tricky skill to learn, and can be very frustrating for learners when you're trying to get to grips with it for the first time. You might be tempted to think you can avoid it, and think most of the time I won't have to parallel park anyway. Unfortunately you're pretty likely to get asked to do a parallel park in your driving test so the more familiar you become with it the better it will be. The first thing you have to decide when parallel parking is whether you want to drive forwards into the spot, or reverse into it. Often reversing into the spot will be easier, even if it seems more daunting at first. Follow our step-by-step guide for parallel parking that can take you through it from start to finish. Patience and practice and it won't be as intimidating as it first seems!

Reverse Bay Parking

Another tricky manoeuvre that involves lots of checks, turning and preparation. Our 10 step guide to reverse bay parking is there if you need it but this manoeuvre is all about positioning, point of turn and doing your 6 point check so that you safely and accurately reverse into the spot. If you need to adjust once by driving forward to get the right angle that is fine, and is allowed during your driving test even. Any more than 1 adjustment where you need to pull forward to change your angle would be counted as a fault in your driving test so do your best to get used to doing this as smoothly and accurately as possible. 

Turn in the Road

Also sometimes referred to as a three-point turn, this is another crucial manoeuvre to master when learning to drive. Whether you missed a turning or realised you're going the wrong way, sometimes you need to be able to safely and accurately turn around on a road, and be able to head back in the direction you came from. It's a simple enough manoeuvre but it depends a lot on space, and you have to be extremely aware of other cars and hazards around you as you undertake this. We have a full guide to turning in the road if you want to read up on how to do this manoeuvre safely from start to finish.

Emergency Stop

Emergency stops occur in 1 in 3 driving tests, so again it's important that you're familiar with how to do this. It's also a very important skill to have to be able to stop very quickly and safely. The good news is that a driving examiner will make sure that the road is wide enough and clear of traffic before making you do an emergency stop, whilst being far enough away from any junctions in order for it to be safe. This means you just need to concentrate on how to safely perform an emergency stop. It's a fairly easy manoeuvre, but it's important to stop quickly but not to slam down the brakes so hard that you send the car skidding. We go into more details on how to achieve this in the above guide.

Dual Carriageways

Dual carriageways can be doubly scary when you're a learner driver. Everyone drives fast, people weave in and out of lanes, and it can be tricky to enter and exit off of a dual carriageway. Fortunately we have a guide that'll teach you how to safely drive on a dual carriageway. In this we go into more detail in how to enter and exit dual carriageways, which lane you should be in when, and how and when to overtake on a dual carriageway. There's even a video tutorial there to make it easier to understand. Once you get the hang of the do's and don'ts on dual carriageways you'll feel as comfortable on them as any other road.


Where to start? Or where to end? Feels like we're going round in circles! Roundabouts are definitely tricky, and it's so important to practice and remember how to approach a roundabout, where and when to give way, when to enter a roundabout, how to change lanes on a roundabout if you need to and then how to exit a roundabout. It may sound like a lot but eventually it'll become second nature! We made a full guide on how to drive on roundabouts here, and we take it step-by-step so you can prepare yourself or remind yourself how to drive on roundabouts... before you get too dizzy! If you're still a little lost, we have another post dedicated for what to do in different scenarios on a roundabout here, so you can feel prepared for whatever comes round your way.

Hazard Awareness

Hazard Awareness is all about spotting potential dangers on or around the road, and then reacting in the correct, and safe way to navigate that hazard. Hazards can be anything from other cars, cyclists, pedestrians, animals or objects in the road, and it's important to always be paying attention so that if you do need to change your speed or stop suddenly, you give yourself plenty of time to be able to react appropriately. Certain areas such as city centres and blind junctions will have a greater chance of sudden hazards appearing compared to a quiet straight road, so it is a good idea to stay particularly vigilant in those situations. For more details on potential hazards, how to spot them, and how to react to them, you can read more on our guide to hazard awareness.

Read More

Learner Driver Insurance

A Guide to Driving Tests

Learning to Drive in Your Own Car

Learning to Drive in Someone Else's Car

The Cheapest Way To Insure A Learner Driver