As summer gets closer, a lot of you are learning to drive. Whether this is because you are heading off to uni or learning as you need a licence so that you can apply for jobs, you will probably be thinking about the costs involved. As I have only just passed my test, I have handed the next few blog posts over to a guest writer who is going to explain the cost of driving, the confusing terms that crop up around car insurance and the points based system for driving offences.
For many teenagers and young adults, learning to drive is an attractive concept. The ability to go wherever you want, whenever you want is liberating; no longer will you have to coordinate your day with when your parents can taxi you from place to place. While this freedom portrayed by people and TV shows is partly true, they often gloss over the costs involved and the hoops you have to jump through to get there.
The first, and possibly most well known cost that presents itself during this path to freedom are those that are associated with actually learning to drive. The costs for the theory and practical tests can be found on the DVLA site, but you will also have to pay for the provisional license (but not the full license if you pass) and any revision material for the theory test. I would recommend getting revision material for the theory test as the price of one book or DVD is significantly less than doing the theory test multiple times.
While it is possible to be taught how to drive by a parent, the overwhelming advice is to go with a driving instructor. Though this is the more expensive option, averaging £23 per hour in the UK, you will get proper instruction that is regulated by the DVLA, you will be safer and learn quicker. Many driving instructors will advertise offers for cheaper lessons if bought in bulk, 10 hours for £200 is a common one, but I would advise caution when it comes to these. When you first start learning to drive, pay full price and only arrange the next lesson once the previous one had finished. This might seem counter intuitive if instructors are offering discounts for bulk bought lessons, but you really don’t want to drop £200 on lessons if the instructor turns out to be bad and you don’t learn anything, or end up in a situation where you don’t receive any lessons at all. It is also a lot more complicated to get a refund once you have stepped into the car to have a lesson – it’s always worth reading the terms and conditions on the company’s website! Once you have found a driving instructor you like, by all means go for the bulk offer, but it is cheaper in the long run to pay a little bit more per lesson and find a good instructor than to get stuck with the first one you give money too and learn really slowly.
Once you have got your license, the next cost to think about is getting out on the road alone. This is a very big topic so I am going to leave it for another post.