The cost of learning to drive varies from driver to driver. But it’s safe to say it’s one of the pricier parts of motoring, particularly considering that every year only around half of the 1.5 million drivers who take their test will actually pass. Here we look at the costs and potential pitfalls. As Mike Frisby from the Driving Instructors Association (DIA) explained, learning to drive is far more than simply moving a car from A to B. “It’s about attitude, behaviour, a whole variety of situations and how you go about dealing with them,” he said.
Cost of learning to drive: Licence first
Before you can get behind the wheel you need to apply for a provisional licence. The good news is the cost has recently been reduced from £50 to £34. This lets you drive as long as you’re accompanied by a qualified driver over 21 who’s held a licence for more than three years. It’s worth noting that if you don’t stick to this you can be fined up to £1000 and get three to six penalty points. It costs nothing to upgrade it to a full licence once you’ve passed your test.
Cost of learning to drive: Lessons
Where the costs really start to rack up are when you have lessons. These usually cost around £25 each. According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the average driver needs 47 lessons to pass their test. But drivers who practice more could pass the test after between 30 and 40. So the best case scenario for an adept driver at a cheap driving school is £600 though most should bank on spending around £1200.
Cost of learning to drive: Parent or instructor?
Recent research on behalf of Green Flag found anecdotal evidence that an increasing number of drivers were trying to save money by having lessons with their parents. However, drivers are more likely to succeed if they use an approved driving instructor. Mike Frisby from the DIA said: “The price of failing the test could be the cost of four or five lessons. So it could actually work out cheaper to get a bit more tuition than to put in for a test that you then fail.”
Cost of learning to drive: What kind of instructor?
Currently, you can trade as a driving instructor without being fully qualified. Frisby explained: “Instructors have to display a badge in their windscreen. You’re better off going for a fully qualified instructor so look out for a green rather than pink badge in their windscreen. Buying cheap is not the way to go with driving lessons.”
Cost of learning to drive: Practising
The more experience you have at the wheel, the more fundamentals such as changing gear, steering and braking smoothly while anticipating and accommodating other road users will come naturally. However, you’ll have to be insured for the car you’re driving which could add extra cost.
Cost of learning to drive: When to take the test
According to the DIA one of the main reasons for failure is learners go for their test before they’re really ready. Mike Frisby said: “A professional is much better placed to judge when someone is capable of passing their test than a parent or friend.”
Cost of learning to drive: The test
The driving test is now in two parts. The theory element costs £25, the practical part is £62. If you’re taking it in a driving school’s dual control car, you will generally book two lessons together for the test: one for a final practice and to get to the test centre; one for the test itself. It means the test alone could cost more than £100.