Life & Culture

Cut the costs of learning to drive

Getting on the road these days is an expensive business, but our expert has a few tips on keeping the prices down


Bills, bills, bills: lessons, insurance cover and a car all need to be paid for

Our son is just about to turn 17 and wants to learn to drive. Looking into the cost of lessons, I think it is going to cost us a fortune. Are there any ways we can keep costs down?

A You are absolutely right, the cost of learning to drive has rocketed over the past few years, by nearly 50 per cent, according to Heritage Car Insurance, to just over £11,000.

This includes buying a car and insurance as well as the cost of actually learning, so it is a big financial commitment for both you and your son. Almost a quarter of 17 to 20-year-olds cite the cost of learning as the biggest reason for them not driving, says the Department for Transport. Breaking it down, the first cost is the provisional licence, which is £34 if you apply online or £43 by post. Then the cost of lessons ranges from £25 to £45 per hour, according to the RAC. The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends 45 hours of lessons, so that can be as much as £2,025. Next you need to add on the cost of taking both the theory test, which is £23, and the practical at £62 for a weekday and £75 for weekends or evenings.

You need to make sure your son is ready when he actually takes his test as the pass rate for the theory test was just 44 per cent in 2022-23, according to the DVSA, and just 48 per cent for the practical. I am guessing your son will want his own car. According to the RAC, a first car costs an average £5,500, around the price for a well-maintained 2010 VW Polo.

If he learns in your car, he will need learner insurance, which overlays your existing cover. Or you’ll need for his car if it has been bought for him to learn on. The cost of car insurance for young drivers aged 17-24 has risen £644 on average in the past year, says Compare the Market. Car insurance premiums for motorists aged under 25 have reached £2,009 in January 2024, compared to £1,365 in the same month last year.

So how can you save money?

Do your research on the make and model of car he will drive. Check the price of insurance before you buy plus the average running costs. You could cut costs a bit on lessons if you or someone else you know can take him out driving so he gets lots of practice outside lesson time. Once he has a car, consider black box (often called telematics) insurance, which will track his driving. This can save some money.

You can also add yourself or another older person as a named driver to the policy, which will also reduce the cost.

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