How long does it take to learn to drive?

Learning to drive is a rite of passage, but it takes time and money. Nic Gardner looks at how long it takes to learn to drive and what else to consider.

Open road with the text “How long does it take to learn to drive?” and The Motley Fool jester cap logo

in the UK, as in most countries, learning to drive is a rite of passage. A driving licence gives you freedom and options, and it improves your employability. However, learning to drive takes time and money. How long does it take to learn to drive, and what else do you need to think about? Let’s take a look.

How do you learn to drive?

In the UK, there are five steps to getting a driving licence:

  1. check that you’re eligible;
  2. get a provisional licence;
  3. learn to drive and study for your theory test;
  4. pass your theory test; and
  5. pass your practical test.

While you can study the theory on your own, you need both lessons and practice to pass your practical test. If your friends and family are eligible, you can save a bit of money by asking them to supervise you while you practice. Your friends and family can supervise your practice if they:

  • are over 21;
  • have a full driving licence to drive the type of vehicle you’re learning in; and
  • have had their full licence from the UK, EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for three years.

Be careful, though – you’re not allowed to pay them. Anyone you pay for lessons must be a qualified driving instructor.

How long does it take?

There’s no minimum number of lessons or hours of practice you have to have before you sit your test. It all depends on how quickly you learn.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), most people need about 45 hours of professional lessons and 22 hours of practice to learn to drive. But that’s probably not what you want to know.

Specialist motor insurance broker Adrian Flux went through DVSA data. It worked out that 67.7% of learner drivers get their full licence within a year, and 18.5% take less than six months. That’s only an average, though – it varies by location, age and experience.

If you’re pressed for time, intensive driving courses can take you through everything in just a week or two. At around £1,000 for a one-week course, they’re expensive, but they might save you time and money in the long run.

How much does it cost to learn to drive?

Learning to drive isn’t free. Car Lease Special Offers estimates it costs about £1,199 to learn to drive a car in the UK. While that’s not nearly as bad as Switzerland, which clocks in at a whopping £3,805, it’s still a lot of money.

Your provisional licence costs £34, the theory test is £23, the driving test is £62, and professional lessons are about £24 each. It adds up quickly.

Is that all?

Nothing is ever as simple as it first appears – there’s always something else to think about. In this case, it’s insurance.

Once you’ve passed your test, you’re an inexperienced driver, which can make insurance expensive. The Pass Plus course is a six-module course that covers driving in different conditions. Once you complete it, it can save you money on your car insurance.