Written by Graham Cutbill-White
Anyone currently learning to drive will know all about the huge expense that comes with getting your driving licence. From the months of lessons to the various copies of the highway code and theory test guides you’ll need, you’ll soon be looking for ways to save money when learning to drive.
According to research from Safe Driving for Life, the average cost of a private lesson is £24. With most learners needing around 40 hours of practice before being ready to take a test, you’re looking at around a thousand pounds for lessons alone!
It’s not just getting practice behind the wheel that’s expensive.
Once you’ve passed your theory test and you’ve had your 40 plus hours of on the road practice, you’ll be ready to take your driving test. But the costs don’t stop there…
For a weekday driving test, it’ll cost you £62‡ while an evening, weekend or bank holiday test will set you back £75‡. You’ll also probably want a lesson with your instructor before your test so that’s likely to be another £24 or £48.
Now just in case, you weren’t keeping track, that takes the total cost of learning to drive to a massive £2,574!§ (That’s assuming that you pass your theory and practical tests the first time and don’t need more than 40 hours of lessons with an instructor)
Given that most learners are young drivers who are unlikely to have a high-paying full-time job, it’s a cost many can’t afford.
Although you can’t skip any of these steps if you want to pass your test and become a safe and competent driver, there are ways to reduce the overall costs your (or your parents) have to pay.
Here are a few ways to save money when learning to drive.
Your theory test is an important part of learning to drive and you won’t be able to even apply to take your driving test without passing it.
Like any test, your best chance of passing is to learn the material and revise until you’ve it’s ingrained in your mind. These revision guides can be expensive if you fork out for the glossy, top of the line editions but there are plenty of free and cheap alternatives.
There are also tons of places to pick up cheap, second-hand copies of theory revision guides on eBay and similar sites. Just be sure that you’ve got the correct editions as the test has changed in recent years.
The biggest cost of learning to drive is the lessons themselves. You can end up spending thousands of pounds with your instructor, so finding ways to get the best value from your lessons will not only save you money but also give you best chance to pass your test quicker.
When looking for an instructor, keep an eye out for any offers they might have. To attract new students, many instructors will offer reduced rates or bulk discounts.
You’ll often find that booking 10 or 20 hours of lessons in advance will work out a lot cheaper than paying for an individual lesson.
It’s always worth remembering that these are usually introductory offers and prices will go up after your initial booking. Be sure to check what the price of your lessons will be once the initial offer ends before committing to that instructor.
It’s important to have a good relationship and be comfortable with your instructor so don’t be totally swayed by cheap lessons.
While you’ll want to get out on the road as soon as possible, you should try and pass your theory test as soon as possible.
Not only will this give you a better understanding of how you and other drivers should act but it’ll also give you the opportunity to get the most out of your lessons.
Your instructor will be able to focus on getting you ready for your test rather than having more lessons than you need while you wait to pass your theory.
Booking hourly lessons may be cheaper but by the time you’ve ‘warmed up’, you might find the time has flown by. Booking two-hour sessions may be more expensive in the short term but you’ll become more experienced quicker which could save you in the long run.
Also, you should avoid any situations where your instructor ‘piggybacks’ lessons. This is where they’ll ask you to pick up another learner during your lesson and have them in the back while you finish your session.
Getting the most amount of tuition is the best way to get value for money. Ensure you’re comfortable while on the road and that your instructor is fully focused on you and not texting, talking or distracted during the lesson.
A great way to save money while learning to drive is to get that all-important experience in private lessons with your parents or other family members.
This is the best way to get the practice you need without having to pay for more lessons than you can afford. Using a parent’s car is often more comfortable and driving with someone you know will give you more confidence on the road.
One important thing to remember is that even you’re a learner, you still need to be properly insured when driving the vehicle. Professional instructors will have their own insurance policy but if you’re in the car with a family member, you’ll be the one who needs insurance.
If you’re only having private lessons occasionally, then an annual insurance policy could be a big waste of money.
A temporary learner driver policy, on the other hand, is a flexible and affordable option as you only pay for the cover you actually need. From just one day up to 3 months, you can choose a duration that fits your situation.
Short term cover will also give peace of mind to any nervous parents worried about letting a learner behind the wheel. As it’s a separate, standalone policy it has no impact on their annual policy and if you were to have an accident, they won’t lose their No Claims Discount.
You can get a quote in minutes and have cover from the second you want.
Remember there are certain rules around who you can learn to drive with.
A sure-fire way to reduce the overall cost of learning to drive is to pass the first time. Whether it’s your theory or your practical, getting the job done on the first try will save you having to pay to take it again.
You shouldn’t be in a rush to take your test as you’ll be more likely to fail if you’re quite a level you need to be. To ensure you pass first time, you should only apply to take your test when you feel ready to do so.
If you’ve booked your test and don’t feel that you’ll be completely ready for it, you can postpone it if you give at least three working days’ notice.
It’s also worth remembering, as we mentioned above, driving tests are cheaper on weekdays so if you can, try and get a test in the week. This will not only save you money but you’ll find the roads are quieter.
Of course, we can all have an off day, so if things don’t go well on your test and you fail, don’t worry too much about it. Keep practising and you’ll pass in no time at all!
These are just some of the ways you can save yourself some money and reduce the cost of learning to drive.