Learning to Drive

For most children the chance to learn to drive at 17 is extremely exciting. Driving offers children a level of independence not experienced before. For many of us parents the driving test was considerably easier when we took it; the test has changed significantly over the past 20 years and the rules for newly passed drivers have also changed.

Before you can learn to drive you must be 17 years of age and hold a provisional licence. To apply for a provisional licence visit Provisional licence

The DVLA recommends you will require 1.5 lessons for every year of your life (17 years old = approx 25 hours of lessons).

An essential part of learning to drive is understanding the highway code, it contains all the rules of the road. and can be found here Highway code

The driving test now consists of two parts -

1.) The theory test

The theory test consists of 2 parts - multiple choice and hazard perception. Both parts must be taken on the same day and can be taken before your 17th birthday.

The multiple-choice section consists of 35 questions and allows 40 minutes to complete the test. A score of 30 is required to pass the test. The test is performed on a computer using a touch-screen, you will be allocated time before the exam to get used to using the touch-screen.

The hazard perception section consists of 15 hazards in 14 video clips; each video clip is 1 minute long. In this section you are marked on how quickly you identify the hazards. This test is also performed on the computer and the mouse is used to identify hazards in the videos. A demonstration will be given before the exam to help you to understand what is required.

The results of these tests will be given to you on the day; both sections must be passed on the day to receive your Theory pass certificate.

Note: You cannot apply for your practical driving test until you have successfully passed your Theory test. You can however be learning to drive before you pass the Theory test.

2.) The practical test - If you can drive a car with minimal assistance from your driving instructor then you are probably ready to take your test. If your instructor believes you are not ready but you believe you are then seek a second opinion from another instructor. Driving schools will generally allow you to use their car for your test so ensure they are available before booking your test date and time. Your driving instructor will often book the test for you; this ensures they are free at the time of the test. If you supply your own car ensure it is correctly taxed and insured (you should do this anyway!)

When booking the test identify the test centre where you wish to take the test and have your driver number and theory test certificate number available for the booking.

Test bookings for both the theory and practical test can be made online at Test Bookings

The test takes around 45 minutes and generally consists of driving in town and single or dual carriageway driving. You will need to take the following items with you to the test centre -

.Your signed provisional licence

.Your theory test certificate

.A photo identity document - passport, work-id, student union card etc.

You will not be tested on anything you have not practiced with your instructor.

Once you have passed your test you may be wise to get a set of Green "P" plates for your car to inform other road users that you are an in-experienced driver. I cannot however see many teenagers wanting these on their car - I know I wouldn't have!!

If you pass your test in an automatic car you are only permitted to drive an automatic. If you pass your test in a manual car then you are entitled to drive both a manual and an automatic.

Be sure to check the new licence to see the class of vehicles you are now entitled to drive; passing your test today does not entitle you to drive all types of vehicles or pull all trailers, caravans.

To find a driving instructor near you visit - Intructors

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