A common question is "How long will it take to pass my driving test?" or "How many driving lessons are required to pass a driving test?". They are relevant questions of course, the cost of driving lessons is not inconsiderable and I know I was very keen to get on the road when I was learning to drive.

Unfortunately there is no simple answer to these questions, it depends on the individual pupil. I am sure you are aware that people's co-ordination, learning speed and memory vary considerably and these are relevant to learning to drive. I can give you some guidance on the average number of hours it takes to learn to drive but before I do that let me give you some tips on helping yourself to speed up the process.

  • Read as much driving theory as you can. Knowing the theory for the theory test and the theory of practical driving will speed up the practical part of learning to drive. The book most people would recommend is "The Official DSA Guide to Driving - The Essential Skills", ISBN 9780115528170.
  • Make sure you are ready for your driving lessons - if you have to be dragged out of bed and your driving instructor has to wait for you, you are wasting time that you are paying for! You are not going to be learning to drive while you are still half asleep.
  • Make your driving lessons as long as you can maintain concentration for. All driving lessons suffer from an overhead at the beginning (outlining the lesson plan, adjusting the seat and mirrors, getting to the place where you can start today's subject etc.) and the end (summarising the lesson, paying, arranging the next lesson etc.). Therefore you have more good learning time in longer driving lessons. However, you can take this too far, if you become tired and lose concentration and all you want to do is get home, this isn't helping. I never drive for more than two hours myself without a break and therefore I won't give driving lessons longer than two hours. You can immediately see why I don't like the very intensive courses.
  • You and your driving instructor should maintain a written record of your progress at the end of each driving lesson. What is recorded should be discussed and agreed, not dictated by instructor or pupil. If you think that what is being recorded is not accurate put your case but be prepared to listen to reason. It is normal for pupils to think either that too little progress is recorded or too much and your driving instructor needs to know either way.
  • If you have the opportunity for private practice (driving with family or friends), take it. Once you have learnt the basics and do not need the assurance of dual controls as much practice as possible will improve your abilities. However, I appreciate insurance costs and the availability of cars and supervisors may make this difficult so this isn't always possible
  • If you have concerns about your progress in learning to drive, raise this with your driving instructor. Good driving instructors will be happy to discuss it.
  • Remember you are the customer, if you really feel you are not making progress or that your driving instructor is not helping you, get a second opinion from another driving instructor. You have an absolute right to take your business elsewhere.
  • Also remember it is not really in your driving instructor's interests to hold you back. The way I run my business is I want to do the best possible by my customers so that they recommend me. This is much better for my business than a few more hours from a customer.
  • Often pupils want to sit their test as soon as possible but the DSA say the reason the pass rate is so low (around 43%) is that pupils are not adequately prepared (they produce a DVD called "Are you ready?" also available in 5 parts on youtube). Driving instructors are caught in the middle of these competing pressures.

A direct quote from the DVSA:-

"Those who pass their driving test have had, on average, about 45 hours of professional training combined with 22 hours of private practice. Learners who prepare this way, with a combination of plenty of professional training and plenty of practice, do better in the test."