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Learning to drive

Am I ready to start learning to drive?

You may feel you were born ready but hold up there, Sparky. Before you start booking driving lessons, take a minute to look through this checklist.

What you need before you book your first driving lesson:

  1. Your birthday

    Yip, 17. Although you can apply for your provisional licence when you're 16, you can't actually drive on the roads with an instructor until you're at least 17 years old.

  2. Your provisional licence

    You can apply for your provisional any time from 3 months before your 17th birthday. That doesn't mean you can drive a car though: you need to turn 17 first.

    Get a step-by-step guide to applying for your provisional driving licence.
  3. Clear vision

    As you'll need to be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away for your driving test, it's a good idea to get your eyes tested before you start learning.

    Being able to see that well is a legal requirement for driving and you really don't want to find out you need glasses on the day of your test - you'll be told to go home. Most opticians hand out free eye tests like perfume samples so there's no excuse not to do it.

    If you wear glasses, make sure you always have them for every driving lesson.

  4. Hazard perception

    Getting in a car for the first time as a driver can be pretty intense. When you first get out on the road, hazards can feel really scary - people stepping out in the road, cyclists, children - they're everywhere!

    You can get ahead of the game by practising your hazard perception (spotting and reacting to danger). It will prepare you for driving lessons but also give you a headstart on your theory test, which will include a hazard perception exam.

    Take a look at my review of the best theory test apps or check out Drive iQ for online practice.
  5. Some cash

    Sorry to say it but you're going to find out soon enough - learning to drive is bloomin' expensive. Rather than running out of money halfway through (it could take you longer than you'd hoped) and having to give up, save the money first.

    Unfortunately, driving isn't really something you can stop and start - you need to keep building the momentum required to pass your test. I only had 1 driving lesson a week and at the beginning I felt like I was having to relearn everything each Saturday. Imagine going a few months before starting again.

Got that ticked off? Discover just how to find that perfect driving instructor.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .