How many driving lessons do I need?

On average, 40-odd hours’ worth of lessons should do the trick.

One of the most common questions learner drivers ask is: “How many driving lessons do I need?” 

The truth is, there’s no set amount of time or magic number of lessons required to learn how to drive. It all depends on how quickly you pick up new skills and how confident you are behind the wheel. 

Here, we explain what affects the number of lessons you’ll need, share ways you can make the most of your lessons, and answer some learner-driver FAQs. Ready? Let’s dive in. 

How many hours of driving lessons do I need in the UK?

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the average amount of driving lessons needed to become test-ready is 44 hours, plus an additional 20 hours of supervised practice. 

However, it’s worth remembering that this is just an average. Some learner drivers will need more lessons and practice, while others will get by with less. 

What affects the number of lessons I’ll need?

A few different things will impact the number of lessons you’ll need before you’re ready for your driving test. These include:

  • Your age: Stats gathered by the DVSA show that the younger you start learning to drive, the better your chances of passing quickly. The pass rate for 17-year-olds is 55.8%, and for 19 to 26-year-olds, it’s around 48% (the national average). Meanwhile, learners in their forties pass 35% of the time, and for those in their sixties, it’s 32%.
  • Your driving instructor’s experience: An experienced instructor should help you progress weekly, while teaching new skills, minimising errors, and building your confidence as a new driver. This could help you reach a test-ready standard in a short amount of time. 

An inexperienced instructor, on the other hand, could potentially slow your progress with unclear directions and inefficient teaching methods. This could result in you needing more lessons to get test-ready.

The best way to find a good driving instructor is to ask for recommendations. If you’re a young learner, you may have friends who are learning or have recently passed. Ask if they’d recommend their instructor and why. 

Alternatively, you can type your postcode into the DVSA database to find qualified instructors near you.

  • Your learning pace: We all learn at different speeds. You might take to driving like a duck to water, or it might take you a little longer to get to grips with life behind the wheel.

    Many instructors will offer an assessment as part of your first lesson together to determine your existing skills. You may require fewer lessons if you’ve had lessons previously or practised with a friend or family member. 

How much should I pay for driving lessons?

The cost of driving lessons varies depending on where in the UK you’re learning to drive. Generally, you can expect to pay around £25 to £35 per hour. The fee covers the fuel and car insurance along with your instructor’s time and expertise. 

If the average learner needs around 44 hours of driving lessons to prepare for a test, you’ll need to budget between £1,100 and £1,540. Of course, you may end up paying more or less depending on the number of lessons you require.

It’s worth noting that many instructors will let you book in blocks rather than pay per lesson, which may help you save money in the long run.

How to make the most of your driving lessons

As we’ve discovered, learning to drive is a huge investment of both time and money. If you want to improve your chances of passing quickly, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your lessons.

1. Make sure you attend your lessons consistently

Driving a car is a bit like riding a bike. The more you do it, the more confident you become, and the skills you learn stay in your brain as muscle memory. 

However, if you don’t attend your lessons consistently and let weeks pass between them, you’ll find it harder to build the skills you need to pass your test. 

2. Squeeze in regular practice between lessons

Just like learning any new skill, practice makes perfect. The time with your instructor will be dedicated to teaching you essential driving skills, but it’s up to you to gain extra experience between your lessons. 

Research shows you’re 1.5 times more likely to pass your test when you combine private practice with driving lessons. So, if you can, get behind the wheel with a friend or family member to build your confidence. Heads up: they must be over 21 and have held their licence for at least three years to help you practise. 

And remember, whether you’re practising in your own car or someone else’s, you must be covered by some form of insurance:

  • If you’re driving in someone else’s car, you’ll need to make sure you’re covered as a learner driver under their standard car insurance policy.

3. Spend more time on tricky skills and manoeuvres 

Once you’re comfortable with the fundamentals of driving, use your lessons to focus on the skills and manoeuvres you find the most difficult. This is especially important if they’re likely to feature during the test. Parallel parking and hill starts, for example, often take some practice.

Your instructor should help you identify areas for improvement, but if there’s anything you’re worried about or feel like you need extra guidance on, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. 

Learning to drive FAQs

How quickly can you learn to drive?

Everyone learns to drive at a slightly different pace. 

If you hit the average of 44 hours of lessons plus 20 hours of private practice before being test-ready, you could sit your test within four months (based on three one-hour lessons a week). 

However, if you want to cut that down further, you could arrange an intensive driving course. Depending on the course provider, you’ll spend one to two weeks learning, with lessons lasting between two and five hours a day. 

Intensive courses are a good idea if you have a deadline for learning to drive (for a new job, for example). That said, you need to ensure you have the availability to commit to such a tight schedule. 

Is 20 driving lessons enough?

Whether 20 lessons is enough depends on how long the lessons last, your instructor’s experience, and how quickly you pick up new skills. 

For instance, 20 two-hour lessons with an experienced instructor would give you 40 hours of driving instruction. This could be enough if you and your instructor agree you’re ready.

How do I know if I’m ready for my driving test?

Assuming you’ve already passed your theory test, your instructor will tell you when they think you’re ready to sit your practical test. However, you’ll probably feel it yourself as your confidence grows. 

Once you agree that you’re ready, your instructor will put you through a mock test a few weeks before the real thing to help you know what to expect on test day.

Can I take my driving test without taking lessons?

In theory, yes. There’s no minimum number of lessons to complete before booking and taking your practical driving test. You could simply practise with a friend or family member and then book your test when you feel you’re ready. 

However, taking at least a few hours of professional lessons is often a good idea before deciding you’re test-ready. A qualified driving instructor can help you avoid picking up bad habits that might count against you in the test, while also taking you through the ins and outs of the test itself. That way, you won’t have any surprises on the day. 

What if I fail my driving test the first time?

Don’t worry if you fail! Depending on your age, anywhere from 45% to 70% of your peers will fail the first time, so you won’t be alone. 

While it’s frustrating to hear that you’ve failed, it’s important to stay positive. You can rebook your test straight away (although there may be waiting lists) and get back to practising with your instructor to iron out the parts of your driving that need the most improvement.

What if I’m unhappy with my driving instructor?

If you’re unhappy with your driving instructor’s service or behaviour, you can complain to the DVSA. You should contact them if your instructor:

  • Keeps cancelling or arriving late for lessons
  • Provides shorter lessons than agreed
  • Fails to provide lessons you’ve already paid for
  • Uses their mobile phone while you’re driving
  • Shouts or swears at you
  • Uses inappropriate language (in person or in messages)
  • Uses unnecessary physical contact

To recap: How many driving lessons should I take? 

The average learner will need around 64 hours of driving experience to pass the driving test — 44 hours of lessons plus 20 hours of practice.

However, this is only an average. You might need more time and instruction, or you could be ready with fewer lessons. It all depends on you, your instructor, and how much you practise in between lessons.

The important thing is to take your time and take the test when you’re ready. 

And remember: If you’re learning to drive in your own car, you need learner insurance before you hit the road. Contact Howden to get a learner driver insurance quote today

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