How To Start Learning To Drive In The UK

Published: 16th July 2008
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Passing your driving test is an important step towards adulthood. The freedom and independence driving can bring is both exciting and rewarding. However, to become a fully qualified driver able to drive solo on UK roads involves time, hard work and money. It also involves complying with a variety of laws and legal requirements.

All learner drivers who wish to use a car on a public road must

be at least 17 years old (16 if receiving the highest rate of mobility allowance)

Hold a provisional driving licence. To obtain a provisional driving license you need to apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) using a D1 form. You can do this online or by filling in the D1 form, which can be obtained from a Post Office. Applying for your provisional driving licence will cost you £50.00.

have car insurance cover.

be accompanied by a fully qualified driver who is over 21 years old and has held a full driving licence for a minimum of three years.

display L-plates ( D-plates in Wales) on the rear and front of the car in use. L-plates must be displayed clearly and must be the correct colour, shape and size. Don't make your own. You can buy the correct L-plates for a couple of pounds.

not drive on motorways.

drive cars that are roadworthy, taxed and have a MOT certificate.

Driving a car requires a great deal of concentration and alertness. Before you start driving you should get your eyes tested by an optician. Driving with less than perfect vision can be dangerous. In order to pass the driving test you must be able to read a current style number plate from 20 metres.

It should also be noted that if you suffer from or develop a serious illness such as epilepsy or diabetes then you must inform the DVLA and this could affect your right to drive.

The driving test itself is split into two parts - the practical driving test and the theory driving test.

The driving theory test has two elements. The first is a muliple-choice exam which consists of 50 questions and has a time limit of 57 minutes. To pass you must correctly answer 43 or more questions. The questions are based on the Highway code and road safety matters. The exam is taken using a touch screen computer. Full instructions are given prior to the exam.

The second element is the hazard perception test. After you have completed the theory test you will be allowed a short break after which a video tutorial, explaining how to take the hazard perception test, will play. Basically the test consists of 14 video clips that show common traffic situations. As the action unfolds you must identify one or two hazards that develop Thirteen of the videos will show one hazard and one will show two. To pass you must score at least 44 out of 75.

The driving theory test costs £30. If you fail to pass just one of the exams then you fail to pass the whole driving theory test.

You can not take the practical driving test, or even apply to take it, until you have passed the theory test. The practical driving test also has two elements. The first is known as the Show Me, Tell Me Test. This tests basic car maintenance and safety knowledge. The driving test examiner will ask you two questions, from a possible 13 questions. If either of these questions are answered incorrectly then you will receive one minor driving fault. The questions and the answers are published by the DSA and are freely available.

Once the Show Me, Tell Me test has finished the driving part of the practical test begins. This will last around 40 minutes and involves driving in various situations. Two of the three reversing manoeuvres, either parallel parking, reversing into a side road or bay parking will have to be performed. Failure to perform either correctly will result in the learner failing the practical driving test.

The practical driving test costs £56.50 if taken on a week day or £67 if taken at the weekend.

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