Learning to Drive: Getting Started
You can’t just hop in a car the minute you turn 17, there are lots of things to remember. Make sure you’ve got everything covered before you start learning to drive with this list.
Most people are eager to turn 17 for one reason… you can learn to drive! It’s a rite of passage that marks the start of your independence as you no longer have to rely on others for a lift. We’ve gathered all the information you need before you start learning to drive.
1. Applying for your provisional licence
The first step on your driving journey is getting your provisional licence. Although you can apply when you’re 15 years and 9 months old but for most people you can’t start driving a car until you’re 17.
You can apply online here or apply by post by completing a D1 application form. You can pick one up at your local Post Office.
You’ll also need to provide a colour passport style photograph. This photo will stick with you for at least the next decade so you should probably accept straight away that it’s going to be awful…no smiling and no filters!
2. Get an eye test!
In order to apply for a provisional licence and sit your driving test you must meet the standards of vision for driving. You must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres or around the length of a cricket pitch. If you require glasses or contacts you must ensure you’re wearing them every time you’re behind the wheel.
3. Find an instructor
Finding the right instructor for you is crucial. They will teach you how to drive safely and prevent you from picking up bad habits. They have a lot of experience and knowledge to impart and help you become a great driver. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has an online tool where you can find approved driving instructors (ADIs), although not all ADIs will be listed.
It’s also important that you find an instructor you get along with and feel comfortable with. After all the DSA recommends 44 hours of professional lessons so you’ll be spending a lot of time with them!
Ask friends and family who have recently learned to drive for their recommendations. Remember, a good instructor will be punctual, reliable, friendly and have a car that suits your needs e.g. manual or automatic.
4. Theory resources
Before you can sit your practical driving test you will need to pass your theory test. The test is split into two sections: multiple choice and hazard perception. The test is based on three books:
You can use these books to revise for your theory but there are also lots of online resources and apps that can help you revise and even take practice tests.
You’ll also need to remember to book the test itself as there can be long waiting. You can book online here and you will need your driving licence number, email address and credit or debit card to hand to pay the £23 fee.
5. Book your test
Your practical driving test can be booked online and costs £62 for weekday test, or £74 for evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Test centre appointments book up fast so make sure you book yours as soon as you feel ready as there could be a waiting time of several weeks or even months.
6. Can you practice with family or friends?
Lots of learner drivers find it helpful to have additional practice on the roads with their family or friends once they have had a few lessons with an instructor. It doesn’t replace professional lessons but is a great way to gain more road experience and build confidence.
As a provisional licence holder, you must be supervised whenever you are behind the wheel or you could be faced with a fine of up to £1000 and up to 6 penalty points on your licence, which is catastrophic for learner or new drivers.
You’ll also need to make sure you have the correct insurance. If you’re learning in someone else’s car it is super quick and easy to purchase Learner Driver Insurance. You can get a quote in less than 2 minutes and purchase instant cover from 2 hours to 90 days, so there’s no reason to not be insured.