Are you 17 or over?
To start learning to drive you need to be at least 17 years old, which is the minimum age that you can legally drive a car on public roads in the UK.
If you''re not yet 17 and want to start practising on private land that''s ok, but remember that places like supermarket car parks are classed as public roads.
If you want to start learning to drive on private land, the site you have access to must be gated and remote from all public highways. However if the land is connected to any form of public highway then irrespective of its ownership, it is illegal under the Road Traffic Act for any under age or unlicensed learner to drive there.
You can also get ahead by applying for your provisional licence three months before your 17th birthday. And if you''re disabled and receiving mobility allowance, you can start at age 16.
To apply for your Provisional Licence you must complete the application form D1 that''s available from either the ''Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) form ordering service'', or from your local Post Office. Alternatively you can now apply for a provisional licence online. Visit direct.gov.uk/drivingtest and follow the directions. It takes about 4 weeks for your application to be processed and for your licence to be sent to you - so if you want to start learning to drive as soon as you hit 17, make sure you apply early!
Recommended reading material
Some essential reading, like the Highway Code, is a great place to start. Also, start to practise your driving theory and hazard perception test on a PC with Driving Test all Tests DVD-ROM which will help boost your skills and improve your chances of passing both the Theory and Practical Tests. You''ll find a range of materials designed to make learning as easy as possible in our Online Shop
Driving Theory and Practical Tests
Theory and hazard perception tests come first
You need to pass your theory and hazard perception test at the same time before you can apply for your practical test.
Getting a test date
You will need a valid provisional driving licence to take your theory test. Once you''ve got that you can book your theory and hazard perception tests online click here direct.gov.uk/booktheorytest
by phone on 0300 200 1122.
To check, cancel or change a Theory Test
click here (direct.gov.uk/changetheorytest)
How the theory test works
The theory test is a 50-question multiple-choice test. To pass you must answer 43 or more questions correctly within 57 minutes. Questions are chosen at random from a bank of over 1,000 questions, and you answer by touching the screen. During the test you have the option to skip questions and return to them later.
How the hazard perception test works
Immediately after your theory test, you''ll watch a series of 14 one-minute video clips, each showing potential hazards involving road conditions, pedestrians or road users.
There are 15 hazards to identify and you can score up to 5 points on each one, depending on how quickly you identify them. You need to score 44 out of 75 to pass. Then comes the practical test.
How the Practical Test Works
In your practical test you have 40 minutes to demonstrate everything you have learned in your driving lessons. You need to show you can drive competently and safely in all kinds of driving situations. You''ll be asked to do one of the three reversing manoeuvres you''ve practised with your instructor and possibly make an emergency stop. You''ll also answer two vehicle safety check questions, one ''show me'' and one ''tell me''.
You''ll be asked to drive for ten minutes on direction only, this will be done by the examiner asking you to follow three different directions given verbaly or asking you to follow three diifferent road signs, or showing you a pre-drawn map and asking you to follow the directions on the map.
You will not fail your test if you take the wrong direction given by the examiner but you can fail if you take the wrong direction and do it incorrectly eg( give the wrong signal or take up the wrong road position)
To pass you will have to complete the test with no serious faults, and you must have 15 or fewer minor errors.
The current national average practical pass rate is 43%, so it makes sense to be as prepared as possible. Your instructor will advise you when you are ready for the practical test and help you understand the main reasons people fail.
You''ll need to study ''The Highway Code'' and also The DrivingTest All Tests DVD-ROM which you can purchase in our Online Shop.
You will be required to sit your Theory and Hazard Perception Test before you can apply for your Practical Test
To book your Practical Test
click here ( direct.gov.uk/bookpracticaltest)
To check, change or cancel a Practical Test
click here direct.gov.uk/changepracticaltest
theory and hazard perception test currently costs £31.
A weekday practical test costs £62.
Evening or weekend tests cost £75.
(as of 1st April 2009)
To find your nearest Test centre
click here direct.gov.uk/motoringnearest.