Is there an ideal time? An ideal age?
Most people start learning to drive as soon as they legally can. But is that the best way?
There are teenagers who, for better or worse, choose to either opt-out or drop out of taking driving lessons before they go to uni. Maybe they don’t have the money or would rather not spend the money involved, maybe they get caught up with A-level work and the regime of revision; maybe they get a kick out of taking the train. The reasoning is varied and often personal.
The question is, is it a good idea to wait?
If you’re about to head to uni, there are perks to waiting. After all, as an 18 year old with a shiny new student card, public transport is the cheapest it will ever be until you retire. Insurance for newly qualified 17 year old drivers is quite the opposite.
Another factor: you may not need a car yet. Unless you have very generous parents or a lucrative Saturday job, you’re probably not going to be taking your own car to university. You might be able save money by being a secondary driver on someone else’s car insurance or add a named driver. Money supermarket give good advice on this.
So if it’s cheaper to take the train until you’re 25, what’s the point of learning to drive now?
Well when learning to drive, time is the most valuable resource you have.
Although you may be feeling the burn of study, revision and part-time work right now, there are few other times in your life when you will have the benefit of free-periods, 10 week summer holidays or time off before 5pm.
The trick to learning to drive is not just paying for lessons, but creating momentum. This will mean you pass sooner, spend less money and waste less time. Here are some ways to do this:
- Practice outside of lessons. If you have spare time you can make the most of it by practicing in your own time with a parent in the passenger seat. This is a much cheaper way of learning and keeps everything fresh in your mind between lessons.
- Don’t drop out of lessons! You will forget much of what you have learned before you take them up again. Keep on taking them regularly, ideally every week, until you pass.
- Pass your theory test now. Don’t put this off. If you fail your theory test you need to wait 3 months till you can take it again. Study the theory now, and you can take your practical test as soon as you’re ready. You can check out the best ways to prepare for your theory test at bigredl.co.uk/about-theory
What if I’m already in full-time work?
If you’ve chosen not to go to university, or university days are in your distant past, then it can seem daunting to start learning to drive. It can seem like an uphill struggle. To use a cheesy driving metaphor, the best way to go uphill is in a low gear. Here are our suggestions:
- There is no rush, unless you’re in one. Do not put pressure on yourself to learn quickly, stress is not helpful to the learning process! You need to feel comfortable and at home in car. If you need to take an intensive course to pass quickly, we can give you one that has minimum stress involved.
- Keep up the momentum. Take regular lessons after work in the evenings. If you can get time off to learn, book a lesson every day to give you extra time on the road.
- Grab a friend for a drive in between lessons. You may not have a parent to be your willing passenger anymore, but you can still find a good friend who has been driving for years to practice with. Try and make a fun experience of it by driving down nostalgic roads or exploring a new area.
So when should you start learning to drive?
Probably the answer is now, even if you’re not going to be able to drive immediately after passing your test. After all, the license will last for the rest of your life. Have an aim in mind of what date you would like to pass by, and then start working towards it. Choose a recommended instructor and make the most of the time you have. For time is your friend.