According to advice from the Department for Transport, learner drivers should aim to have around 47 hours of driving lessons before taking their test, and with the average one-hour driving lesson costing between £24 - £27 learning to drive is increasingly becoming an expensive financial commitment.
On top of the lessons, learners also have the expense of studying for their driving theory test, the cost of taking the theory test (currently £23) and the cost of the practical driving test (£62 for a weekday).
Once they've passed their test, young people are then hit with the highest car insurance premiums - so it's no surprise then that many young people feel that it is too expensive to learn, and many are leaving it later before they get their driving licence.
Although a new driver over 25 will pay more for car insurance than an experienced driver, the costs tend to be a lot lower than if they were in the 17-24 year old range - as car insurers tend to view you as a more responsible driver (for example, someone over 25 will likely be using their car to commute to work.)
Regardless of your age, if you are thinking about learning to drive we have outlined some tactics to help you save money below...
Keeping down the costs of your theory test
It doesn't matter how well your lessons are going, you can't book your practical driving test before you've passed your theory test - which means shelling out for the revision materials and paying for the test itself.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Theory Test Kit costs £4.99 from the app store and its Guide To Learning How To Drive book costs £9.99. However, there are websites out there that offer the information you need to pass for free. You can also take a practice theory test at the official Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/take-practice-theory-test
The problem with using third-party websites that claim to offer all the revision material is that you can never be 100% sure that the information you are receiving is accurate and up-to-date. If that concerns you and you would prefer to go with the official DVSA study materials then there are still ways you can save money.
Cashback websites such as TopCashback can offer cashback when you buy the revision material, and websites like HotUKDeals also offer regular discounts on theory test products.
Another quick way to save a bit of money when you're starting is to apply for your provisional licence online, which costs £34 - £9 less than the cost of applying through the post.
How to find cheap driving lessons
It should go without saying that doing your research and comparing driving instructors is the best way to save money, rather than just plumping for the first one you find.
Don't just go with the cheapest one though, as you're also looking for someone with a good track record of passing new drivers quickly. You may find that you end up doing a lot more lessons with a cheaper instructor, which will cost you more in the long run. So look at customer reviews of instructors in your area, and ask your friends and family for recommendations before you make your choice.
Another thing to consider is the availability of your instructor. If they can only offer you one lesson a week then you may find it takes you more lessons overall to get test-ready than if you were having two or three lessons a week.
Many driving instructors offer introductory rates, so whoever is offering the best deals should play a part in your initial decision. As well as introductory deals, you can also reduce the cost of lessons by bulk booking them in advance - so look out for instructors who offer deals like 10 lessons for a reduced rate.
Practice driving for free
Although you can't avoid the cost of professional driving lessons with a registered instructor, you can limit the number of hours you pay for by practising driving in your own car or a family car.
Learner drivers get extra practice in a family car, as long as they have a provisional licence and are accompanied by an adult over 21 who has held a full driving licence for at least three years. Whoever is accompanying you must be sitting in the front passenger seat and must be fit to drive - so you can't be the designated driver after a night at the pub if you only have a provisional licence! You should also fit L plates to the front and back of the car when you are driving.
The more time you get behind the wheel, the quicker you will pass your test - so this can be a great way of gaining experience without having to pay an instructor.
You will need to be insured though, so you can either get added to a parent's insurance as a provisional named driver or you can get your own learner driver insurance. The benefits of getting your own insurance are that you won't affect your parent's no claims bonus if you have an accident while driving, plus you can start building up your own no claims with your own policy - which can mean cheaper premiums when you pass your test.
Don't rush to take your test
As you get more comfortable behind the wheel it can be tempting to get the test out of the way with. However, despite the savings you could potentially make by taking your test quickly and limiting the number of lessons you pay for, you also risk failing your test if you are not ready and having to pay for it again.
Despite how confident you are, you should only take your test when your instructor agrees that you are ready.
If you are using your own car to take your test, you need to make sure it is suitable for a driving test. This includes having L plates fitted, having no engine warning lights showing on the dashboard and having an extra rear-view mirror fitted for the examiner to use.
If your car is not fit for purpose, then your test will be cancelled before it has begun and you will lose your fee. A recent study has found that learner drivers are collectively losing £100,000s every year by turning up to tests in an unsuitable car - so do your research and make sure your car complies with the DVSA standards.
Saving money on car insurance
Once you've passed your test, you will likely be hit with high car insurance premiums. This is because car insurers see young and new drivers as a higher risk of making a claim, as they are less experienced than older drivers.
There's no way to avoid this until you get a few years of no claims behind you, but before that, there are few things you can do to at least reduce the cost of your car insurance as a newly qualified driver.
To get started read our guides below:
- How to save money on car insurance
- How to save money on your car insurance as a young driver
- Is it possible to get car insurance for young drivers under £1,000?
- New drivers could save up to £800 on car insurance by adding a parent as a named driver