So you’ve decided it’s about time to get on the road, start driving and give yourself some independence? Learning to drive can be a very liberating experience, and I’m sure your parents will welcome the break from being your personal chauffeur as well.
Learning to drive can sometimes be confusing and daunting, which is where this guide comes in. We will cover everything from applying for your provisional licence, to buying your first car, and everything in-between.
1. Provisional license
The first step in learning how to drive is to apply for your provisional licence. The minimum legal age for driving is 17, and you can apply for your provisional licence three months before your 16th birthday. There are two options when applying for your provisional licence:
- You can easily apply for your licence online, but be sure to check the requirements, as you will need to have all the information to hand before applying.
- Alternatively, you can pick up an application form from a post office. You will need to fill this form in and post it to the address indicated.
2. Intensive course or normal driving lessons?
You can choose to take either an intensive driving course or a more regular pattern of driving lessons. As the name sounds, an intensive driving course involves a lot of learning in a short time, and usually only requires 1-2 weeks of driving time before you can pass your test. Some people can find intensive courses a bit too much, and prefer to have one or two lessons a week over a longer period. Talk to different friends or family members who have done one or the other before you decide which way you want to go.
3. Find a driving instructor
Next on your to-do list will be finding a driving instructor. Spend time looking for an instructor who is suited to you, as they will be responsible for turning you into a confident, fully qualified driver. There are a variety of questions that you should ask yourself when choosing an instructor:
- Are they DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) approved? You can find this out by checking online or contacting the instructor and requesting to see their DVSA document.
- Is the driving instructor available to teach at times that suit you?
- How much do they charge per lesson?
- Would you prefer a female or male instructor?
- Is the driving instructor part of a driving school, or are they independent?
Take your time and find an instructor that you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions, even if you think they sound silly. The way someone answers your questions can tell you a lot about how they are likely to behave when teaching you.
4. Your first lesson
The day is finally here: it’s your first driving lesson. Don’t worry, you wont be driving on any main roads just yet. During your first lesson, your instructor will most likely take you to a quiet neighbourhood, where they will run through what each of the buttons, pedals and controls of the car do. The only driving that will be asked of you during this lesson will be to accelerate, steer and brake in a straight line. So relax and enjoy it!
5. Theory test
In order to become a fully qualified driver, you need to pass two tests: the theory test and the practical test. The theory test is split into two parts: the hazard perception section and the multiple-choice section.
- The multiple-choice section consists of 50 questions answered over 57 minutes, and you will need to answer 43 questions correctly to pass. The questions are split into the categories of the Highway Code. A good way to revise for this part of the test is to download a mobile app for your phone or tablet, so you can practise anytime.
- the hazard perception section of the theory test consists of 14 video clips. Your task is to click when you see a developing hazard. A developing hazard is something to which you may have to react as a driver; the quicker you notice the developing hazard, the higher you will score. The highest mark for a clip is 5 and the pass mark for this test is a manageable 44 out of 75.
For more info on the theory test, check out the government website.
6. Practical test
The practical part of the driving test is to see whether you can drive safely in different traffic and road conditions; it also tests whether you have sufficient knowledge of the Highway Code. During your test, the examiner will give you a set of instructions that you will need to follow whilst driving. You will also be asked to do one of three reverse exercises: reversing around a corner, turning in the road or reverse parking into a bay or parking space. Don’t worry; your driving instructor will practice all of these with you before you sit your test.
To book you practical test, you must have passed your theory test. It is easy to book, and once again it can be done entirely online.
7. Buying your first car
Congratulations, you passed! Now it’s time to buy your first car.
There is plenty of information here at The Car Expert about buying a car, and there are lots of other resources on the web to help you get started.
When buying a car, it’s really important to account for the extra costs that come with it, as they can be quite high. You’ll need to budget for things like:
- Car insurance: This is a legal requirement to ensure that if you have a road accident, you are covered by an insurance provider. There are various different levels of car insurance, so do some proper research to make sure you are properly protected.
- Road tax (properly known as Vehicle Excise Duty): This is another legal requirement, and is split in to different VED bands based on the car’s CO2 rating
- MOT test: The MOT test ensures that your car is fit and safe for the road, and it must be taken annually for all cars over three years old.
- Fuel, tyres and servicing: These will all be regular costs, and you should budget for these when buying a car.