It’s no secret that learning to drive can be expensive. From your provisional licence application, to booking the theory and practical tests, to learner driver insurance, the costs can add up. Here, we’re looking at the average cost of driving lessons in the UK, so you can plan your journey to your full driving licence.
Let’s dive in.
How much are driving lessons?
Many people in the UK learn to drive over a series of regular, 60-minute lessons with an approved driving instructor (ADI). You may choose to book a lesson once a week or once a fortnight, but this depends on your budget, schedule, and how much you’re able to practise between lessons.
How much is a one-hour driving lesson in the UK?
The average cost of a one-hour driving lesson booked one at a time is around £35.
It’s difficult to be more specific about the cost, because the price of driving lessons is set by individual instructors and varies across the UK.
For example, some surveys have put the price as low as £28 per hour, whereas others, especially in London, quote at least £36 and sometimes up to £50.
The DVSA (the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which oversees driving tests) doesn’t release official data on the price of lessons, so it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of the average cost across the UK. But if you want information on where you’re most likely to pass your test, the DVSA has you covered with its monthly breakdowns of driving test statistics.
It’s also worth noting that driving lesson prices have increased since 2020. At first, this was partly due to Covid, which caused a bottleneck of people who had to postpone their lessons and tests. Now, the price of fuel and the cost of living crisis are also having an impact on how driving instructors set their hourly rates.
Additional expenses of learning to drive
As well as the driving lessons themselves, all learners need to budget:
- A fixed sum of £34 to apply for a provisional licence online (or £43 if you apply by post).
- £23 to sit your theory test, plus the cost of any additional resources you use to practise (for example, the Official DVSA Theory Test Kit or a copy of the updated Highway Code, both of which cost £4.99).
- £62 to sit your practical driving test, or £75 if you need to take your test in the evening or at the weekend. If you’re planning to sit your test in your driving instructor’s car, you may also have to budget for another two or three hours of “lessons” to cover the hour you sit the test and the journey to and from the test centre. The average UK pass rate sat at just below 50% in 2022, so you may also want to have an additional cushion of funds in case you have to resit your test.
- Around £200 for the optional Pass Plus scheme, which you may wish to complete to improve your skills as a new driver.
How many driving lessons do you need?
To get an accurate idea of how much to budget for learning to drive, it helps to know how many lessons you might have to book.
In recent years, the average newly qualified driver took 45 hours of lessons with a driving instructor before they passed their test. In addition, they practised for 22 hours without their instructor.
Bear in mind that the same research also showed that people with 100 combined hours of lessons and practice were much safer on the road after they passed their test.
How much do driving lessons cost overall in the UK?
Some 45 hours of lessons, multiplied by £35 per lesson, adds up to £1,575 on lessons alone. Add to this at least another £120 to cover the tests, test materials, and your licence, and the total cost of learning to drive can come out to nearly £1,700, excluding your learner driver insurance.
The cost of this insurance will depend on different criteria. An experienced broker can help you find the best deal.
How can you lower the price of learning to drive?
It’s only natural to wonder how you can lower the expense of learning to drive.
First, it can help to look at how your driving instructor offers lessons.
Some instructors may offer two-hour extended lessons which work out at a slightly lower price per hour. These longer lessons can be tiring, but they’ll give you a chance to practise your skills repeatedly, and learn more.
They can also be beneficial if you live in the suburbs or countryside, as the longer lesson will give you enough time to drive towards larger roads and towns to practise in busier conditions.
Some instructors or driving schools might also offer a discount if you book a block of 10 or 12 lessons in advance. Here, you’ll be looking at a higher upfront cost, but will likely save overall.
Intensive driving courses
Booking an intensive driving course, where you drive for around five hours a day on consecutive days, can also work out at a lower cost per hour than weekly 60-minute lessons.
Discounts and special offers
You could shop around for an instructor or driving school with an introductory discount on your first lesson, a student discount, a special offer (for example, to tempt people whose New Years’ resolution is to learn to drive), or a referral discount.
Like the practical test, driving lessons in the evening or at the weekend can be much more expensive. It’s also a good idea to practise during working hours because the roads may be busier, and your experience will be more realistic than if you only practise after the majority of people have commuted home from work.
How can you get the most out of your lessons?
There are also things you can do to make sure you get the best value from the lessons you book.
A good instructor will track your progress and will know what skills you still have to master, but asking for extra practice on specific skills is also an option. If you’re confident with all your manoeuvres, but you still don’t feel comfortable merging onto larger roads or tackling roundabouts, let your instructor know so you can make the most of your time together.
Get more private practice
There’s no legal requirement for the number of driving lessons you need vs. the number of hours you spend practising with a friend or family member. If you practise more between your lessons, you may progress faster.
Remember, if you want to practise driving between lessons with friends or family, you need to be accompanied by someone who:
- Is over 21 (though some insurers will specify that they must be over 25)
- Has held a full driving licence for at least three years
- Has insurance to cover a learner driver practising in their vehicle
- Displays L plates on the front and back of the car while you’re in the driving seat
If you drive as a learner without being properly accompanied, you risk six points on your provisional licence and a £1,000 fine.
Choosing a driving instructor that gives value for money
Because learning to drive can be so expensive, it can be tempting to go with the driving instructor with the lowest price. But if that means that you need to resit your test or take more lessons overall, it’s not really a saving.
Here’s how to find a driving instructor that offers value for money:
- Find someone who is an official ADI or an instructor in training. Fully qualified ADIs will display a green badge, and trainee driving instructors will have a pink one to show they’re registered with the DVSA.
- Ask about how many of their students pass their test on the first attempt. This is a good sign that they only recommend someone sit their test when they’re truly ready to do so, which can save you a lot of money and stress.
- Ensure that they’re punctual and reliable, so you won’t miss out on a few minutes of every hour’s lesson.
Remember, you’re not just paying the instructor to watch you practise. They’re professionals with detailed knowledge of the Highway Code and the routes from your local test centre. They also have the ability to teach you how to answer the ‘show me, tell me’ questions you’ll be asked during your driving test.
Their cars usually have dual controls for safety, and they should be patient and calm as you learn new skills.
What is the average cost of a driving lesson? Summary
Average driving lesson prices are now around £35, so if you want to learn to drive from scratch in the UK, you should prepare for a final bill of between £1,500 and £1,700 on lessons, tests, and your licence, and then the additional cost of learner driver insurance on top.
You may be able to save money with block bookings, longer lessons, intensive courses, learning during the day, or finding an instructor who offers a discount for new customers. And remember, the cost of learning will be spread out over the course of the months it takes you to get ready for your test, rather than leaving your bank account in one lump sum.
When you’re ready to get behind the wheel, ask the experts at Howden about learner driver insurance.