A guide to driving lessons in the UK

For many Brits, particularly those around the age of 17 and 18, having their first driving lesson is a major milestone in their lives. Not least because it represents the first step on a journey that offers a level of independence and freedom they have never previously experienced.

However, while learning to drive can be an exciting prospect, it can also be quite a nerve-wracking one. After all, you’ll be in charge of a vehicle on the road, which is a big responsibility when other cars are there, too.

Additionally, you’ll be entering into a bit of an unknown because you’ve never had a driving lesson before. With that in mind, we’ve put together this guide to what to expect during driving lessons in the UK.

Documentation Requirements

Before you can have your first driving lesson you need to make sure you have your documentation in order.

This means applying for and being granted a provisional driving licence.

If you plan to learn to drive in your own car, it also means taking out learner driver insurance. This provides you with a short-term or annual cover that allows you to legally practice on the road as an L-plater.

Find a Driving Instructor

With your provisional licence and insurance secured, your parents or another qualified driver over the age of 18 can take you out for your first driving lesson. However, if you want to be taught by a driving instructor, you are going to need to find one.

A good way to do this is through word-of-mouth recommendations from peers who are currently or have recently, had driving lessons.

Alternatively, if you live in or around north-west London, you can find Wembley driving lessons with EZLicence UK – or any other suburb for that matter.

Arrange a Lesson

After making contact with the instructor of your choice, you can arrange your first lesson with them.

It is a good idea to try and organise it early in the morning. That way your nerves won’t kick in if you have to wait for it until 4 pm.

Just make sure that you are not learning to drive during school run times or rush hour when there is likely to be more traffic on the road.

 First Lesson

When it is time for your first lesson, the driving instructor will pick you up from an agreed location, usually your home. Generally, first lessons are scheduled for about an hour, so make sure you are ready and waiting for them to arrive.

Typically, your initial lesson will be as follows:

Phase 1: Get to know the car

On their arrival, one of the first things the driving instructor will do is to familiarise you with their vehicle. This should include an understanding of how to place your hands on the steering wheel (at 10 and 2 if you imagine a clock), as well as the accelerator, clutch (if driving a manual) and brake.

Other essential elements they’ll run you through are the gear stick, handbrake, indicators, lights, headlamps, hazard lights and windscreen wipers.

They will also outline the various important features of the dashboard including speedometer, engine temperature and fuel levels, as well as how to turn the engine on.

Phase 2: Questions

Having run through the various elements and functions of the car, the instructor may ask you if you have any questions.

If you do have any, it is worth asking them all, as this should go some way to providing you with reassurance and clarity of mind to begin the lesson.

Phase 3: Initial Drive

Once you’ve asked all your questions, you will be invited to drive. Before you do this, make sure the seat is adjusted to your liking and that you have positioned the mirrors to maximise your sightlines.

When driving for the first time, it is important to remain calm and not panic. Listen attentively to what the instructor is saying to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is also a good idea to repeat the instructions back to them to ensure you both are on the same page.

The chances are you will be driving in a quiet area, but make sure you always keep your eyes firmly on the road, your hands on the wheel, (unless changing gear) and that you are not driving too fast.

Later Lessons

The number of lessons you have will depend on how easily you take to driving. According to the DVSA, most people require about 45 hours of driving lessons until they pass their test.

Whether you need this many remains to be seen, but as you have more lessons with your instructor, you will be encouraged to drive in several different areas and conditions, and at various times of the day and evening, to gain more experience.

A good instructor will also test you on the highway code as well as indicate things like who has the right of way at an intersection.

When they deem you ready enough to take your test, your instructor might encourage you to book double lessons (2 hours in total) to build up your driving stamina.


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