The Real Cost of Learning to Drive
Essential, adventure, a rite of passage, simply a means to an end or a way of life - learning to drive means different things to each person, and not everyone will agree. What most drivers can agree on, however, is that the cost of learning to drive (and getting that first car) can be steep - and that’s to put it lightly. On the bright side, research from Veygo in 2018 revealed the UK as the fifth cheapest country for driving lessons with the average cost of a lesson £24. Result!
Getting on the road for the first time, or planning to help someone do so is not an easy process, which is why here at Likely Loans, we’ve broken down the different stages, their estimated costs and ways to save a little extra money so you can make it happen.
1. Provisional license
A provisional driving license allows you to start learning and can be applied for from the DVLA at the age of 16 in the UK. According to GOV.UK, Iit costs £34 if you apply online and £43 by post.
If the license is lost, damaged or defaced, a replacement costs £20. If you don’t learn to drive within 10 years, your provisional will expire and it costs £14/£17 to renew (online and by post respectively).
Driving lessons are almost certainly going to be the most expensive part of learning unless there’s someone generous in your life willing to teach for free. As you’d expect, prices will vary between local and big-name driving instructors, typically ranging between £20-£30. If you’re opting for a local instructor to save money, make sure they have an ADI license (approved driving instructor).
Make sure you choose an instructor carefully, rather than just the cheapest, as if it’s wrong, it could take longer to learn and therefore more expensive in the long term. Try asking around with friends and family for recommendations. Intensive driving courses are quicker but more expensive, so keep this in mind.
RACThe recommends theed number of lessons with an instructor is 457 hours, but as the DVSA say, “there’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practise driving.” With an average of £24 a lesson, that’s £1,128 total.
To save money:
Learn the theory before your first lesson so you don’t have to waste time covering it during that lesson
Take the time to find an excellent driving instructor to learn quickly
Book lessons in blocks, like a set of 10, for bulk discounts
Practice outside of your paid lessons
3. Private practice
Practice is the best master, so if practicing with friends or family is an option, make the most of it. Practising outside of lesson time requires supervision of an over 21-year-old who has had a full driving license for 3 years minimum. The learner will also need their own insurance, so it might be worth researching learner driver insurance (which is an additional cost), for just a few hours cover. The DVSA recommends 22 hours of private practice, but it’s the reality that some people won’t have access to a car or someone to teach them.
4. Theory test
According to GOV.UK, Tthe theory test will cost you £23 (for cars). If you need to retake it, it’ll cost the same each time.
In terms of resources, you can buy a copy of the Highway Code in book form - just make sure it’s the latest edition - or, alternatively, read it for free online. There are a couple of great mobile apps like Driving Theory Test 4 in 1 App (£4.99) and Official DVSA Theory Test Kit (£4.99) which can help you learn wherever you are. These include mock questions and hazard perception tests.
5. Practical Test
The practical driving test will cost you £62 on weekdays or £75 for evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.
For reference, less than half of drivers pass on their first attempt, so you might need to budget for a few tries which isn’t ideal but makes finding the right instructor all the more important.
Estimated cost to learn:
Provisional license - £34
Lessons - £1,128
Theory test - £23
Theory practice app - £5
Practical test - £150 (based on passing second time)
6. Getting on the Road
Once you’ve got your license (congrats!) you have the green light to enter into a whole new world of driving costs, starting with your first car and, of course, your insurance. Statista estimates that the average car insurance cost for someone around the age of 20 is £851. For a breakdown of the other costs of driving, AA has a really useful guide here.
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