Tips from driving examiners: the cost of learning to drive

Cabin view over shoulder of learner and instructor waiting at roundabout.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 2 February 2022

We look at how much it costs to learn to drive and pass your practical driving test, why the cost varies, and the importance of practice.

How many lessons will I need?

The cost of learning to drive can vary enormously from person to person, depending on their ability and experience. Those who need the fewest lessons are usually those who’ve already had some driving experience and have a natural talent for driving. So, if you’re not a ‘natural’, and you’ve had no previous driving experience, you’ll probably need quite a few lessons – like most people.

If you pass in under 35 lessons, having had no other driving experience, then you’ve done brilliantly! To take 40 or 50 lessons is quite normal. Even having to take over 100 is not rare. If you’re paying £25 per lesson, it’s unlikely that you’ll spend less than £1000. Depending on your abilities, you may need to spend more. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of taking both the theory test and the practical driving test at least once, and extra lessons between any failed driving tests.

Time and money

You have to be realistic about how much you may have to spend to get your licence. If you’ve budgeted for, say, £500 and run out of money when you’re only halfway there, you may have to abandon learning to drive until a later date.

You have to be of a fairly high standard to pass your driving test, so good driving instructors will want to give their pupils as many lessons as it takes to get them up to the right standard. And they’ll be making sure that they understand each learner’s strengths and needs along the way. On the other hand, learner drivers or their parents often try to pull in the other direction, with a cry of ‘Surely they should be taking their test by now?'

Think about it: isn’t it in everybody’s best interests that learner drivers take just a few more, good-quality lessons – for road safety reasons and so they do not waste money on test fees when they have little chance of passing?

The more time and money you put into learning to drive, the better driver you will become and more likely to pass your test first time. And, just as importantly, once you have the freedom of the roads you’re less likely to have an expensive prang that could bump up your insurance premiums or, worse, injure yourself or others. Surely that’s what it’s all about?

The message here is: do not begin to learn to drive until you can go all the way. In for a penny, in for a pound!

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