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The learning to drive process: the road to your full driving licence

From when you first get behind the wheel, the learning to drive process can be a long and winding road. Everyone learns at their own pace, and what’s easy for some can be tricky for others. But everyone has to pass the same milestones to earn a full driving licence.

Step 1: Applying for your provisional licence

You don’t need to apply months in advance, as your licence should arrive in a week or so if you make an online application. Even if you have your licence before your 17th birthday, you can’t start driving until you turn 17.

Step 2: Finding a driving instructor

The DVSA has a driving instructor finder service which will help you track down some local instructors.

Ask friends about their experiences, and choose an instructor you think you will really get along with. Don’t choose an instructor you’re not sure about just because they charge a couple of quid less per hour. You need an instructor who will have your back for the next few weeks and months, so choose carefully.

If you don’t hit it off with your instructor, don’t be afraid to change. Some teaching styles suit some learners better than others.

Step 3: Pass your theory and hazard perception test

Before you get anywhere near the practical driving test you need to pass the theory test, including the hazard perception element. There are dozens of apps and online learning resources to help you pass, including mock tests that are often free.

Don’t forget to read The Highway Code thoroughly too. It may seem a bit old-fashioned when there are so many digital learning tools, but knowing The Highway Code is really important if you want to pass first time.

Step 4: Pass your practical test

Passed the theory test? Good. Then it’s onto the next stage in the learning to drive process – the practical test.

You’ll drive for around 40 minutes on a variety of roads. Around half of that time will be spent driving independently. That means following road signs or a sat nav to a destination.

Then there are the manoeuvres to tick off. As well as making a hill start, pulling out from behind a parked car, and making a normal stop at the side of the road, you may need to do an emergency stop. You’ll also need to carry out one of three reversing manoeuvres.

Step 5: Independent driving

Congratulations! You’ve done it! That’s the practical test ticked off and the learning to drive process is complete.

Well, it is and it isn’t. With your full driving licence you can now drive on your own. But you haven’t stopped learning. Every time you drive you gain more experience – there’s always something to learn.

Step 6: Post-test training

Maybe you never, ever want another driving lesson again as long as you live. But if you like the sound of a discount on your insurance, it could be worth being told how to drive a few more times. Post-test training schemes like Pass Plus can improve your skills and cut the cost of your insurance premium.

Find a RED Driving Instructor near you

Find a RED Driving Instructor near you

RED’s experienced instructors operate nationwide. So whether you’re learning in Newcastle or Norwich or Plymouth or Preston, they’ll find the perfect instructor to help you on your journey to passing.

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