What does it take?
Learning to drive is different for different people. The average number of hours taken to learn to drive across the whole country and across all learner drivers has been assessed by the Driving Standards Agency at something like 46 hours IF you have around 22 hours of private practice.
You can read more at this link; http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/LearnerAndNewDrivers/index.htm
Will I take so long?
Some people will take less time than this and some will take much longer. It depends on factors such as age, co-ordination, confidence and being able to take regular lessons but most of all it’s about commitment and motivation.
If you want to do it, you will.
How do I find an Instructor?
To give yourself the best chance of getting qualified quickly you need to first of all find a reliable instructor. The best way to do this is by word of mouth. Talk to your friends and find out who they would recommend. You need to know that the instructor will turn up on time consistently, in a reliable, clean car and will not use your lesson to make phone calls, run their own little errands and not carry other people in the back of the car on your lesson. Do you REALLY want someone sat in the back of the car while you make your mistakes?
This is Charlotte, she’s a world class dancer and singer and should be a star at some point. She did exactly the right thing by by choosing an instructor based on personal recommendation. I taught her sister Jenna to drive and some of Jenna’s friends so Charlotte knew exactly what she was getting even before I turned up at the door. She’s looking pleased with herself because she has just bay parked the car unaided for the first time!
What else should I look for?
Try to make sure that your instructor is also properly qualified. A fully qualified instructor will have a Green octagonal shaped badge in the windscreen while a trainee instructor will have a pink triangle instead. Trainee instructors have only passed two parts of the DSA’s three part examinations and although some are very good and will go on to eventually qualify most will never make it.
How often should I take lessons?
Lesson wise, you need to take regular lessons. I would recommend one two hour lesson a week and at the same time you need to get into the theory test material.
But why two hours?
Because it is the fastest way to learn. A one hour lesson is usually not enough to cover more than one subject so if you were to cover a manoeuvre such as reversing or parallel park then anything else you need to practise such as roundabouts or traffic light junctions will be missed out for another week. This will mean that you may take MUCH longer to learn to drive than if you took two hour lessons from the start and it will ultimately cost you more money in the long term.
Some people have trouble coping with two hours. Some disabilities or learning difficulties mean that two hour lessons are too stressful and in those cases or where someone is especially nervous or has a short attention span I might recommend one hour lessons.
Is cost important?
The cost of lessons shouldn’t be your main priority. A good instructor will help to get you driving much quicker than a bad one and so the cheapest option might not be the bright move. I know of many people who have gone for the ‘special offers’ and ended up regretting it. I know of them because quite often they end up learning to drive with me when their ‘cheap’ instructor has ruined their chances of making any real progress and left them demoralised.
I currently charge £25 per hour for a one hour lesson and £23 per hour if you take two hour lessons.
Likewise, paying a fortune to learn with one of the big driving schools makes very little sense. The instructors who choose to stay with the large driving school franchises often do so because they need the pupil supply provided by the driving school’s advertising budget and can’t survive as an independent instructor.
They are also often less experienced than independent instructors and in some cases may well be new to the job, having to pay a large franchise fee every week to their chosen school which means they need to charge more than an independent. The usual profile is that an instructor will work with one of the large schools to gain experience and fill their diary and then go independent once they’ve gained that experience and become established.
What about the theory test?
I offer free theory test training using a company called Theory Test Pro which should cover everything you need to pass your driving theory test and if you are the sort of person that likes to learn from a book then I would recommend ‘Learn To Drive’ by a company called Haynes. A copy of the Highway Code is also a good idea. It’s important to get into the theory as soon as possible because not only will you make more sense of your practical lessons but without a theory test pass you cannot book a practical driving test no matter how good your driving gets.
Find a good, properly qualified instructor preferably by recommendation.
If you are unhappy with your instructor, CHANGE!
Get stuck into the theory as soon as possible.
Take regular lessons, preferably two hours in length.
But most of all, ENJOY IT!