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Learn to Drive a Car in the UK

The information and video tips in this section will help you start learning to drive a car one step at a time. Learn how to get your first provisional licence and the different ways of starting driving lessons.

Then, we teach you how to prepare for the theory test and book your practical driving test. In simple terms, this section explains everything beginners need to do to learn how to drive a car.

Learning How to Drive

You must have a driver’s licence to start having driving lessons and learning to drive. In Britain, the earliest you can apply for a provisional driving licence is when you reach fifteen (15) years and nine (9) months.

The legal age to start riding a moped, or one of the light quad bikes, is sixteen (16). But, you need to wait until your 17th birthday before you can drive a car on public roads and highways.

There is an exception:

Are you getting the enhanced rate of the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment benefit (also called PIP)? If so, you can start driving a car from the age of sixteen (16).

Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus

The DVSA are suspending driving tests (up to 3 months) excluding critical workers, such as those need for key workers. The suspension also applies to MOTs for lorries, buses, and trailers.

1. Rules for Learning to Drive

Let’s review some of the basic rules to follow when you are learning how to drive a car for the first time (or ride a motorbike). First of all, you will need to hold a provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

Even though you can learn to drive online (e.g. the theory modules), all learners must have supervision while they are learning to drive a car on the roads.

As a rule, it will be a driving instructor doing the supervising. But, providing they meet the rules, it can be someone else (e.g. practising driving with family or friends).

One of the other sections explains the rules for using ‘L’ and ‘P’ plates in greater detail. But, as a general rule, the car you use for driving lessons must have ‘L’ plates displayed.

Learner drivers can drive at any time of the day or night (with supervision). And, since the introduction of the new rules for learners on motorways, you can start to learn motorway driving if ‘ALL‘ these apply:

Note: Different rules and licence entitlements will apply if you are learning to drive a tractor or a specialist vehicle in the United Kingdom.


Speed Limits for Learner Drivers

The national speed limits for driving with ‘L’ plates in England, Scotland, and in Wales are no different than after passing your test. But, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour for learner drivers in Northern Ireland.

Learning to Drive Tips: Browse through the complete list of UK rules and regulations for further help guides.

2. Requirements for Driving Legally

Before going much further, you should check that UK motoring laws allow you to drive. You can also check which vehicles you can drive on the GOV.UK website – if you are not sure.

The online facility allows you to check whether you meet the age restrictions (17 for most learner drivers) and whether you have the right driving licence.

The other requirements for driving legally in the United Kingdom that you should check, include:

  • The legal obligations of drivers and riders that apply to anyone driving a car or riding a motorcycle. As a rule, it will include getting a driving licence and registering the vehicle. Keep in mind you should also be insuring, taxing, and getting an MOT for your car or motorbike.
  • The UK has strict driving eyesight rules on meeting the ‘standards of vision for driving’. So, you must wear contact lenses or spectacles if you need them to drive.

Note: A different section explains the current rules for riding a motorcycle or moped (e.g. CBT training, theory and riding tests, and how the new licensing process works).

3. Getting a Provisional Licence

You can apply for your first provisional driving licence online from the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA). It will cover you to drive a car and ride a moped or motorbike.



4. Taking Driving Lessons and Practicing

Once you have the licence you can start taking lessons at a driving school or start to practice in a car with someone else (e.g. an adult family member).

  • The Highway Code 2022 is essential reading for everyone who uses the roads in England, Scotland, and Wales. It combines tips on how to drive a car step by step PDF with rules you MUST follow.
  • Then, taking driving lessons and learning how to drive a car is the next logical step. The help guide explains who can teach you to drive if you are paying them.
  • As part of the DVSA practical driving test for cars, the examiner will ask you two (2) vehicle safety questions. They choose the questions from this list of ‘show me, tell me questions‘.

Note: You can search for driving schools, lessons, and instructors approved by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). The facility also allows you to check their grade (if declared).

5. Preparing for the Theory Test

  • You can get lessons from an official DVSA driving instructor. But, you can also start to prepare using books and software for theory test revision and practice tests.
  • Download the Official DVSA Theory Test Kit app. It is the ONLY official DVSA guide for the car theory and hazard perception test.

Learning to Drive Tips: Go online and take a practice theory test of multiple-choice questions and the hazard perception test.

6. Booking the Theory Test

You must have a provisional driving licence to book and manage your theory test. The next step in the process is to:

  • Book your theory test (you can also change, cancel, or check your appointment details).

Note: The Official DVSA video guide [1:42 seconds] explains more about the car theory test 2022. A different section explains how to take the driving theory test for car drivers.

7. Booking the Practical Driving Test

You must have already passed the theory test before moving on the next step, which is to:

Note: As a learner driver preparing for your car driving test, no doubt you have many questions that need answering. Check the section that explains everything you need to know about taking the practical driving test.

8. What Happens After Passing the Test

You can start to drive, without supervision, straight after you pass your driving test. But, make sure you follow vehicle insurance law on driving a car without adult supervision.

Enrolling on a Pass Plus practical training course will improve your overall driving skills. One advantage of completing advanced driver training is to get a discount on car insurance.

Note: You can also take the B+E car and trailer driving test when you pass. The extra licence qualification allows you to tow a trailer with an automatic car (no clutch) or a manual car.

Learning How to Drive a Car in the United Kingdom