How Many Lessons Do I Need?
How many driving lessons on average do you need to take before you can pass?
What’s the average number of lessons people take before they take their driving test?
Chances are, these are questions you’ve been asking yourself and others.
I'm here to tell you the answer is ‘does not matter’.
That’s right. It does not matter what the average number of lessons is, because you are not an average person. You are unique with unique skills and unique needs.
You probably have noticed when asking around for the number of average lessons you’ll get all sorts of ridiculous numbers. We’ve even heard people claiming they only needed 10 lessons to pass their driving test!
Let’s pretend for a second that they’re telling the truth (they’re not). They passed after 10 lessons (they didn’t). So what?
What has somebody else’s ability (or imagination) got to do with you?
Even still, we have a problem with the question. In fact, any decent driving instructor should whince if you ask them how many lessons you need before you can pass your test.
The reason is simple. Do you want to simply pass your test, or do you want to be a safe and confident driver?
Every year hundreds of new drivers die on the road. Imagine how much smaller the figure would be if all of those drivers had the desire to become safe drivers, rather than to just scrape a pass for their driving test with the minimum amount of lessons?
Think about it for a second. Do you want to sacrifice your life (and other people’s) for the sake of shaving off a few hours and saving £112?
There is a myth out there that driving instructors want to stretch out the number of lessons as much as possible. That if they could they’d make you have to take 100 lessons before you could take your test.
This is just untrue.
Every driving instructor has a responsibility to you. They would rather be accused of stretching out lessons than be the one who rushed through 20 lessons for a young person to pass their test only to die in a car crash months later.
That is why we’re not going to tell you what the average number of lessons it takes to pass. We don’t want to add to the idea that the point of driving lessons is to learn the bare minimum in the minimal amount of time to squeeze through a pass.
It will take you as long as it will and as many lessons as it will to be a safe and confident driver.
Remember, your safety is worth far more than any amount of money you think you’ll be saving by rushing things.
Why choose a driving instructor?
The cheapest way to learn to drive
Why trying to cut corners on driving instruction can end up costing more money than it saves
A qualified instructor is a sound investment for a learner driver.
This year, 1.5 million prospective drivers will attempt to transform their provisional licence – surely driving’s embarrassing equivalent of holding your dad’s hand – to the far more coveted full licence. Of those, just under half will pass. But new figures show the number of people passing the test at the first attempt is down compared with 20 years ago.
Learning to drive is a pricey business. Lessons usually cost between £25 and £35. And someone starting from scratch will need between 30 and 40 lessons. Even in the best-case scenario, just getting to the test can cost £600. It’s hardly surprising, then, that research by breakdown organisation Green Flag suggests young drivers are eschewing the traditional driving schools in favour of lessons from mum and dad.
Since 1994, the number of people using driving schools has fallen from 50 per cent to 34 per cent. Meanwhile, the number choosing to be taught by their parents has risen by 25 per cent, meaning more than three-quarters of parents are now playing the role of driving instructor. However, Green Flag’s survey of 1,000 people shows that over that same period, the pass rate for first timers has dipped from 48 to 42 per cent. And there’s a cost implication to that.
According to the Driving Instructors’ Association (DIA), most driving tests are taken in cars with dual controls, implying that many pupils do have the odd lesson in the run-up to a test. DIA chief examiner Mike Frisby told me: “Taking the test is an expensive business. The test itself is £62. Then you want a two-hour lesson to accompany it, one hour to prepare and one hour for the test itself, so that’s already more than £100.”
He said that one reason for failure is that learners commonly go for their test before they’re ready. “A professional is much better placed to judge when someone is capable of passing their test than a parent. The price of failing the test could be the price of four or five lessons. So it could actually work out cheaper to get kids a bit more tuition than to put them in for a test that they fail.”
One parent who is all too aware of the cost of learning to drive is Green Flag’s national roadside rescue operations manager Neil Wilson. His 18-year-old son Nile passed on his third attempt. Neil said: “Taking the test is a significant cost burden. By teaching a kid themselves, parents could be saving the cost of lessons. But if they can’t get them through the test, the extra cost could negate any saving they make. One of the things I found was that I didn’t know what goes into the driving test these days. An instructor does.”
Nile, the 2014 British junior gymnastics champion, had about 35 lessons with a professional as well as practising with Neil. He admitted that the biggest difference between having his dad or an instructor beside him was that things sometimes got “quite heated” when driving with his father but were always totally calm with the professional instructor.
Mike Frisby, from the DIA, says: “Learning to drive is far more than simply moving a car from A to B. It’s about attitude, behaviour, a whole variety of situations and how you go about dealing with them. But kids still need the support of the parents. The most successful learner drivers are the ones who benefit from parental input.”
As with all forms of education, there are teachers. And then there are teachers. One of the peculiarities of learning to teach driving is that you can ply your trade as an instructor before you’re fully qualified. “This is going to change,” said Frisby. “But for the moment you need to be aware of who’s teaching you. You want a fully qualified driving instructor, so look out for a green rather than pink badge in their windscreen. Buying cheap is not the way to go.”