Q. What do I need to start driving?
A. You will need to be aged 17 to drive on the road, hold a provisional licence, and able to read a vehicle number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres (67 feet – about five car lengths) in good daylight.
Q. How do I apply for my provisional licence?
A. You can pick up a D1 application form from your local post office or, if you have a digital UK passport, you can apply online, although you will still need to provide a photograph.
Q. When can I apply for my provisional licence, and how long does it take to come through?
A. You can apply for your provisional licence up to 3 months before your 17th birthday. You should get your licence within 15 working days of the DVLA receiving your application form.
Q. How long will my provisional licence last?
A. Until your 70th birthday, but the photocard section will need to be updated every 10 years with a new photograph.
Q. Do I need to take a theory test?
A. Yes. You will need to pass your theory test before you can book your practical driving test.
Q. What does a theory test consist of?
A. The theory test is made up of a multiple choice section and a hazard perception section. The multiple choice part consists of 50 questions answered via a computer touch screen. The hazard perception section consists of 14 video clips, 13 clips have one hazard that needs to be identified, whilst one clip has two. You will need to pass both sections in order to get your pass certificate.
Q. What is the pass mark for the theory test?
A. The pass mark for the multiple choice is 43 out of 50, and for the hazard perception it is 44 out of 75.
Q. Do I have to pass my theory test before I start driving?
A. No. It is better to study for your theory whilst having driving lessons as the two go hand in hand. However, you will need to pass your theory before you can book your practical driving test
Q. How will I know when I am ready to take my theory test?
A. If within your study aids you have the option of doing mock tests, then a general rule of thumb is that if you pass three mock tests consecutively then you are ready to take your theory test. In addition to this, a good Instructor will regularly assess your knowledge of the theory syllabus during your lessons.
Q. How do I book my theory test?
A. Either by phone on 0300 200 1122 and follow the options, or online at www.direct.gov.uk/drivingtest. Most Instructors can book the theory test for you if you wish.
Q. How long does it take to get the results of my theory test?
A. You will get your result at the Theory Test Centre whilst you are there.
Q. How long does my theory certificate last?
A. Your theory certificate lasts for two years. If you have not passed your practical driving test in that time then you will have to retake the theory again.
Q. How many lessons will I need to be ready for my practical driving test?
A. This varies from person to person, but statistics from the Driving Standards Agency state that an average pupil will need 45 hours professional tuition along with 22 hours private practice. Do bear in mind that these statistics will include everyone who has passed their test, of all ages and abilities. A good Instructor should be able to give you a guide as to how many hours tuition you will need after your first few lessons.
Q. How often should I have driving lessons?
A. Your Instructor should be able to support you to make the right decision based on your ability, learning style, finances and availability. Most people benefit from the continuity of having a lesson at least once a week, and I usually recommend 2 hours at a time as best value. Intensive courses nationally have a poor pass rate for the complete novice. However, most Instructors will accommodate clients who are particularly motivated to pass more quickly…but do beware of promises to get you through your test in one or two weeks!
Q. How long will each lesson last for?
A. I usually recommend a two hour session at least once a week. This allows you to settle into a good amount of driving after the usual ‘hello’ and recap of the last lesson. I will not teach a client for more than four hours a day (with a break in the middle) as most people cannot take in that much information, and it is a waste of their money. Occasionally, if a Learner is a complete novice, or particularly nervous, then starting with an hour can be easier to handle at first.
Q. What happens if I get things wrong in my lessons?
A. Making mistakes is all part of the learning process, and that is why Instructors have dual controls! A professional Instructor will have a Code of Conduct which you may ask to see at any point. It is unprofessional to shout, or get frustrated with pupils, make unconstructive or inappropriate comments, or touch pupils unless to maintain control of the vehicle.
Q. Can I be guaranteed a pass at my test?
A. No. A professional Instructor will ensure that you are ready to take your test before you turn up on the day, but nothing can guarantee how you will behave on the day, or what might jump out in front of you! Beware of Instructors who guarantee a pass!
A. Your Instructor will advise you when to book your test. Having a mock test with your Instructor is a good way of finding out if you are ready as well.Q. Can I take my practical test in an automatic car, and then drive a manual car? What about the other way round?
A. If you pass the practical test in an automatic car then you are only entitled to drive an automatic. If you pass the practical in a manual car then you are entitled to drive either.Q. What do I have to know to pass my practical driving test?A. You have to be able to drive in a safe, competent and confident manner, whilst obeying the regulations and being aware of other road users. Also you have to be able to perform a variety of reversing manoeuvres.
Q. How do I book my practical driving test?
A. Either by phone, 0300 200 1122 and follow the options, or online at www.direct.gov.uk/drivingtest. Most Instructors can book the practical test for you so long as you give them the money for the test.
Q. How long will my practical driving test take?
A. Officially the driving test lasts for 38 to 40 minutes, 30 minutes or so of which will actually be driving. Within that time the Examiner will check your licence, test your eyesight, and ask the ‘show me tell me questions’, give a briefing before the test, take you out on the test, and give a briefing at the end of the test.
Q. What is the ‘show me, tell me’ part of the practical driving test?
A. The Examiner will ask you two questions concerning the workings of the car. One or two incorrect answers will result in a minor fault being recorded. Click here to view the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
Q. What do you have to do in the practical driving test?
A. You need to drive the way your Instructor has taught you. The test route has been designed to check your abilities over a range of road and traffic conditions. You will also be asked to carry out two reversing manoeuvres. You can make up to 15 minor faults and pass, but get the 16th and you fail. However, one serious or dangerous fault will result in an instant fail.
Q. When do I get the results of my practical driving test?
A. When you have finished the test the Examiner will tell you if you have passed or failed. If you have failed, the Examiner will give you feedback on the test so you can correct your faults before the next test.
Q. Do the Examiners have to let so many people pass, and so many fail? Do they work to quotas?
A. No. If you are good enough you will pass, if you aren’t you will fail. The Examiners do not work to quotas.
Q. On the test, will the Examiner be “human” and approachable? Will they talk to me?
A. The Examiner will want to get the best out of you. They are “human” and they will try to make you feel as relaxed as you can be. The Examiner will talk to you, but as in life, some are chattier than others, and they will not put you off your driving.
Q. How long will it take for my full licence to arrive when I’ve passed?
A. If your provisional licence was issued after 1st March, 2004 then the Examiner will take your licence and have it processed automatically. This can take up to 3 weeks. If your licence was issued before 1st March 2004 then you will have to apply for the full licence yourself, which can take a little longer.
Q. Can I start driving on my own straight away once I’ve passed?
A. Yes you can. It’s a good idea to keep your pass certificate on you until your full licence arrives, and I always recommend that you give yourself a chance to calm down for at least a few hours before venturing out on your own. I do not recommend that any new driver sets off with friends in the car for quite some time, and I highly recommend Pass Plus before long or motorway journeys. The cost of Pass Plus can usually be recouped in the savings on insurance premiums.
A. Anyone who is over the age of 21 and has held a full driving licence for three years or more can be a supervising driver. That person must also be in a fit and proper state to drive whilst supervising you, and there must be appropriate insurance to cover all parties.
Q. Can I carry passengers as a provisional Learner?
A. Yes you can, but the person in the front passenger seat must be the supervising driver.
Q. What is the New Drivers Act and what does it mean to me?
A. Under the New Drivers Act your driving licence will be revoked if you accumulate six or more penalty points within two years of passing your first driving test. You will need to reapply for your driving licence as a Learner driver and resit your driving test.
Q. What is Pass Plus? Is it worth it?
A. This is a Driving Standards Agency course provided by most Instructors, which is aimed at new drivers to build on existing skills and knowledge. You will learn how to deal with driving in towns, dual carriageways, motorways, rural roads, night driving, and all weather driving. The course lasts for a minimum of six hours. There is no test at the end of it, but the Instructor will assess your skills and if successfully completed, the DSA will issue a certificate. A large number of insurance companies recognise this certificate, and you can often more than recoup the cost of the course from the discounts offered – whilst being a safer driver for life.
Q. Do I have to do Pass Plus straight away?
A. You don’t have to do pass plus straight away but you need to do it within 1 year of passing your test.
Q. What else can I do to make myself safer and improve my driving skills after my test?
A. Keep up to date with the Highway Code as most people read the Highway Code when learning to drive and then never look at it again! Acknowledge the fact that you never stop learning to drive. Think about taking the advanced driving test.
Q. I passed my practical driving test years ago, and haven’t driven since. Do I need to retake my test?
A. No you don’t. What you can do is to take some refresher lessons with a professional Instructor who can assess your abilities and help increase your confidence.