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Learning to Drive - What You Need to Know Part 1

With a serious backlog in driving tests and the DVLA operating on skeleton staff due to the pandemic, millions of eager learner drivers are desperate to get on the road. If you or a member of your family is one of them, take a look at this quick guide, which should help you/them to get on the road as soon as possible.

Applying for your provisional licence

The first step to getting on the road is applying for your provisional licence. While you can apply for your licence from the age of 15 years and 9 months old, it isn’t activated until you are 16. At this point, you can start learning to drive a light quad or moped. You can start learning to drive a car when you are 17.

A provisional licence only allows you to learn to drive; it is not legal for you to drive without an instructor or qualified driver who is legally able to supervise you.

The easiest way to apply for your provisional licence is online. You will need to make payment of £34 and provide valid ID – usually a passport – and the last three years’ addresses. You will also need to confirm that you can read a number plate from 20 metres. Normally, a provisional licence will take a week or so to arrive, but at the moment there is a backlog of 6 weeks or more. While you are waiting, grab a copy of the Highway Code.

Finding a driving instructor

While it is great to be able to practise with family or friends, it is important that you learn to drive with a qualified driving instructor. They will make sure that you learn what you need to learn – not just to pass your test, but to stay safe on the roads. Finding a driving instructor won’t just increase your chances of passing your test and prevent family arguments at the wheel, but they have dual controls, which allow them to use clutch and brake pedals if needed. Of course, we all want to save money on driving lessons, so it can help to have a mix of lessons with a legally able family member or friend once you have got the basics sussed with a driving instructor.

You will be spending a considerable number of hours alone in a car with your instructor, so pick one that you get on with, that you trust, and who doesn’t make you feel nervous. Ask family and friends for recommendations or check out our directory of reliable local instructors. There is no harm in asking for a trial lesson just to see how you get on; once you are happy with an instructor, they may offer a discount if you bulk book lessons.

Next week we talk about lessons, logistics and theory tests – follow Trust A Garage on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date.

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