Learning to drive: 7 ways to keep costs down


learning to drive


Passing your test takes, on average, 45 hours of lessons according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. That’s likely to cost over £1,000.

Add in the other expenses like exams and study materials and the final bill will be even higher.

Here are seven ways to keep costs to a minimum:

Choose the right instructor

Check the instructor’s ID


l plate
  • All DVSA-registered instructors have to display a badge on their windscreen
  • A green badge shows that the instructor is fully qualified and undergoes regular DVSA checks
  • A pink badge indicates a trainee who can teach for six months while getting teaching experience
  • The badges should carry the instructor’s photograph and an expiry date

Ask friends and family for their recommendations.

Look for a driving instructor approved and registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Compare prices of instructors in your area but don’t choose based on price alone. Listen to your gut and look for an instructor you trust and feel safe with.

Also, check whether they intend to raise their prices later on.

Steve Calvert is an instructor in Oxford. He says you should ask yourself if you’ve had value for money after each lesson:

“You should be capable of driving within a busy area like a city centre within 10 hours of lessons.

“You should be able to reach a driving test standard after 25 hours.”

Don’t give piggy backs

Driving instructor Steve Calvert says you should be aware of instructors who ‘piggy back’ lessons:

More on motoring


piggyback driving lessons

It’s when your instructor insists on picking up the next pupil towards the end of your lesson – before it has actually finished. You then drive home, and complete your class, with the next student as a passenger.

“This is unfair because you have paid for a full lesson and you need to get the most out of it. Over time the costs can add up,” says Steve.

Also, avoid instructors who don’t give you their full attention – they shouldn’t be texting or talking on the phone during your lesson.

If you are pleased with your instructor you may be able to get yourself a discount if you recommend a them to a friend. Some instructors may offer free lessons in return for referrals.

Two hours at a time?

In a one hour driving class you may find that by the time you’ve gotten up to speed with it your lesson is already finished.

You may find you get better value for money if you take your lessons in two hour sessions.

Either way, you might be able to get a discount if you book several classes in advance (regardless of whether you choose one or two hour sessions).

Do it intensely?

Everyone learns at a different rate. You could choose an intensive course, which is designed to help you learn to drive within a week or two.

Getting started

  • You must have a provisional driving licence when you learn to drive
  • You must put ‘L’ plates on prominent places on the front and back of your vehicle
  • You can’t drive on the motorway with a provisional licence
  • There’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practice driving

Source: GOV.UK

These courses can involve up to four-six hours driving a day, so it’s worth discussing with an instructor before signing up.

Driving instructor Steve Calvert recommends you take and pass your theory test before starting an intensive course.

“When you pass your theory test you can concentrate your efforts on the practical lessons.”

Study cheaply

You can read the entire highway code for free on the government website. You can also take practice tests.

If you prefer to study from a real book, look for second hand copies of the highway code from friends or online.

Practice with a friend or family member

Getting practice with someone you know is a good way to boost your confidence behind the wheel.

Check if they are over 21 and have a full licence in the same category as the vehicle you’re driving (held for at least 3 years). Make sure you’re insured to drive their car.

Be flexible when booking your driving test

Barely Legal Drivers



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Practical driving tests tend to be slightly cheaper on weekdays than weekends.

If you don’t feel ready you can postpone either your theory or practical tests if you give 3 working days’ notice. Waiting until you are better prepared may save you on re-sit costs.

This material is for general information only and does not constitute legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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