Whether you have just turned 17 or you are an older non-driver who has decided to take the plunge, it can help to know the processes and rough timescales that you can expect as you prepare not just to pass your driving test, but to be safe on the road in the future. Last week we looked at when and how you can get your provisional licence. In this instalment, we look at the logistics of taking lessons and – finally – the theory and practical tests!
There is no “right” number of lessons – everyone is different, but the average learner has over 40 hours of lessons as well as 20 hours of practice. If you are lucky enough to have a qualified driver who is legally allowed to accompany you as you practise, it might be a good idea to look at insurance options for learner drivers.
Your first lesson will probably be in a very quiet area with limited traffic, while you get used to driving. As you gain confidence, your instructor will vary the areas and skills that you learn until you know everything you need to use roads safely, from parking to lane discipline.
Are intensive courses a good idea?
If you want to learn to drive quickly and effectively, an intensive course may be the best option for you. These allow you to have planned lessons close together with the specific aim of getting you driving in the quickest possible time. While intensive driving courses can be a good idea, learning at your natural pace is usually more successful; there is a lot to learn and lots of experiences to encounter when driving and the more you experience with the security of your instructor being nearby, you'll be more confident and able to tackle a range of situations when you do go solo.
Whether you opt for an intensive course or a slower approach, you will need to take your provisional licence with you when you go for your first lesson.
The theory test
Before you can take your practical driving test, you first have to pass your theory. This demonstrates that you understand the basics of the highway code. The theory test currently costs £23 and can be booked online. Most towns have a test centre – check the Gov website to find your nearest one.
The theory test consists of a multiple choice test, and a hazard perception test. The multiple choice consists of 50 questions which need to be answered in 57 minutes, with a pass mark of 43. The hazard perception test involves watching a series of video clips and clicking the mouse when you see a potential hazard. Each video has at least one hazard and the earlier you click the mouse, the more points you get for a correct hazard. The maximum score is 75, with a pass mark of 44.
You will find out instantly whether you have passed your theory; once you have passed and your instructor is confident, you are ready to book your test!