Best Way to Learn to Drive

A handy blog exploring the best way to learn to drive

Car keysThis blog explains the key differences between learning to drive on a Pay As You Go basis compared to an Intensive Driving Course.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) state in their ‘Learning To Drive’ publication that people who pass their driving test have had on average 45 hours of professional training, combined with 22 hours of private practice.  They stress that those figures are an average, “but generally the more driving experience you get, the better”.

Will learning to drive on a PAYG basis or an Intensive Driving Course affect those figures at all?  To answer that question we need to consider what is involved in a driving lesson.

Before a driving session begins, Driving Instructors will start off the session using a set structure.  It includes reviewing what was done on the last session, whether there are any questions, whether there has been any tasks/driving done since then and reviewing it.  It will include understanding where that previous session fits into the overall programme, the level of ability achieved, and what else needs to be done.  Objective(s) for the current driving session are set, and a brief discussion of any new subject matter is given before the car moves off.  Once the driving session is complete, there is a discussion of key learning points, a review of the achievement of the objective set, and consideration of setting any tasks to do before the next session.

That process of communication can easily take 10 minutes at the start and end of every driving session.  Driving Instructors are trained to undertake it as stipulated by the DVSA.    You then have to drive to the location most appropriate for the objective(s) set.

So if you were to take 45 x 1 hour driving sessions with a Driving Instructor, of those 45 hours, you will spend 15 hours, at the side of the road, talking to each other (as above).  As such, you will get about 30 hours driving experience.

If on the other hand you take those 45 hours in 4 hour sessions instead of 1 hour session, then the amount of time spent at the side of the road is reduced from 15 hours to 3.75 hours (just under 4 hours).  Which means, that rather than 30 hours driving experience, you will receive 41 hours driving experience.

Another benefit from driving on a longer session, is the ability to plan driving in more varied driving conditions/locations.  At Big Tom Driving School, on our Intensive Driving Courses, our customers regularly drive over 90 miles on a session, and cross county boundaries in the process.  As such, they are building up a larger bank of driving experience (see our Facebook page for evidence of this).

In addition to this, the rate of progress achieved, in general terms, by having a 4 hour driving session, every day for 7 days, compared to 1 hour per week for 28 weeks, should not be under-estimated.   For most people, that learning curve is not only very manageable but actually provides for a more efficient learning process – learning to ski would be another example of this methodology.

The advantages of PAYG include being more able to fit in private practise sessions between sessions with the Driving Instructor, and for some, shorter driving sessions are more desirable.  Also, some people like the flexibility of spreading the cost over a longer period of time (although read on to discover how this itself, does come at a cost).

There is one other quite important factor to note.  As a general rule, prices for driving sessions on a PAYG basis are significantly more expensive than the hourly rate on an Intensive Driving Course.  For the sake of argument let’s assume a PAYG hourly rate is £24/hr and an Intensive Driving Course hourly rate is £18/hr, then based on the above figures from the DVSA:  45 x £24 = £1080   45 x £18 = £810   So not only do you receive less driving experience on a PAYG basis, but you pay more for it too. 

So there you have it.  As with all things, there are positives and negatives for each method, and the best advice I can offer you is to consider your budget, schedule, and learning preferences and choose the method that will work for you personally.   

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