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Whilst learning to drive, almost everyone has a different experience.  This depends on many factors, such as age, time, personal commitments, your driving instructor and where you live.  The length of time people take to learn to drive is also an individual matter depending on time, money and your abilities.

When people talk about learning to drive or driving lessons, most would think of an hour's driving lesson once or twice a week.  This is the traditional method of learning to drive and is still the most popular.  However, in today’s 100 mile an hour lifestyles we tend to want to get it done now and move on. This is why intensive driving courses or driving crash courses (as they are ironically known) are becoming very popular.

What we will now look at is the difference between the two methods and what could work for you.

Regardless of the method of learning to drive most people will take,  on average, approximately 40 hours to get to a competent and confident stage, ready for a driving test.  It must also be said that the right type of practice will always benefit you.  By right type of practice we are of course talking about not missing the small things like checking your mirrors and not getting into general bad habits such as steering with one hand or riding the clutch.

Hourly Driving Lessons

Standard hourly driving lessons are when a local driving instructor will come and pick you up from home or work and give you a 1, 1.5 or a 2 hour lesson each week.  On average using this method it will take you somewhere between 4 to 6 months to get to test standard.  Having your driving lessons over a longer period can benefit you if you need to spread the cost out as you will only be expected to pay for the lessons as and when you have them.

If time is a problem for you then learning over a longer period will also help as you won’t have to find a week to take off work, college or school.  It should also be mentioned that there are some downsides to hourly lessons, including not trying as hard as you should because you’ve had a bad day or can’t be bothered.  The drop-out rate for people learning to drive is massively higher with hourly lesson learners as it is much easier to back out when you will lose £20 rather than a few hundred for an intensive course. Here are some of the pros and cons for hourly driving lessons:

Pros of hourly lessons

Lessons/Cost spread out
Flexible lessons
Less Pressure

Cons of hourly lessons:

Higher drop out rate
More briefings and debriefings
Less focus

Intensive Driving Courses

Intensive driving courses are becoming a very popular way to learn to drive as many people's lives are now at such a pace that things like driving licences are needed as soon as possible. This is normally because of a job.  An intensive driving course will normally consist of 5 hours training per day, over a set number of days with the last hour on the last day arranged as the driving test. (N.B.  Make sure the driving school you choose arranges the test for you at the end of the course.  If you have to wait another 6 weeks or more for your test after the course you may have forgotten what you've learned).

The first things that will need to be studied and passed are the theory and hazard perception tests.  Many driving schools will organise these for you and, if available, may offer you a split course. A split driving course will normally be split 50/50 with all the training being practical and the pupil completing their theory/hazard training at home. The idea is that some practical training will help the understanding of the theory.

Following a successful pass of the theory the practical test can be booked.            
An intensive driving course is exactly what it says it is “Intensive”. This means that there will be a certain amount of pressure as the test will have already been booked. For some this will be a benefit as it keeps you focused.  For others this will be a hindrance, especially if you have ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or learning difficulties. I would go as far as recommending, for people with these issues, not to try an intensive driving course. Here are some of the pros and cons for intensive driving courses,

Pros of intensive driving courses:

More focused
Learning can be transferred quicker
Lower drop out rate

Cons of intensive driving courses:

Less flexible
More pressure
Not suitable for people who are slower learners

Assessment lessons

If you are not sure as to what method would suit you, why not try an assessment lesson?  This is normally a 2 hour lesson in which the instructor can give you tuition but will also be able to see what you can, or more importantly, what you can’t do.  This is especially important if you have some experience driving already as it is hard to gauge what level your driving skill is at just by the amount of hours you have completed (e.g. 10 hours for 1 person could mean that they are fairly advanced but for another they could have just finished the basics).  It is important that you get the right level/amount of tuition because you want to be at the correct level but not pay over the odds for extra lessons. 

Many instructors offer both types of learning but they do need different approaches so when making the decision as to what is best for you, please consider the following:

Has the driving instructor completed many intensive driving courses before?

What is their pass rate?

Do they cover test centres near you, or will you have to travel?

Is the car suitable for you?

What is the cost of the course?  (the cheapest is not necessarily the best).

You can of course mix both methods starting of with hourly lessons and finishing of with an intensive driving course or vice versa.

Driving is a skill for life and is not easily gained. You will put a lot of time, effort and emotion into gaining your driving licence and it can easily be lost, especially in the first 2 years when you are only allowed to gain 6 penalty points before you lose your licence.  Then you will have to start again!  So above all drive safely!

Written by: APass4U
See also:

Starting Driving Lessons
Choosing a Driving Instructor
The Theory Test
The Practical Driving Test
Practice Driving
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Start Driving is produced by Trish Haill Associates Litd.  Copyright 2014  Contact:  admin@startdriving.net