Learning to drive

Learning to drive is a skill which can give you freedom and independence, and one you will use throughout your life. This article covers some of the important facts to know before you begin, so that you can drive safely and legally.

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Apply for a provisional licence

You can apply for a provisional driving licence when you’re 15 years and 9 months old and start driving a car when you are 17.

If you get the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) then you can start to learn to drive a car when you are 16. 

There are some driving eyesight rules that you should check.

You can find more information and apply for your licence on the GOV.UK website. 

Declare a medical condition or disability

There are some conditions that could affect your ability to drive safely.

You must tell the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you have one of these conditions when you apply for your provisional licence.

You can find out more about medical conditions, disabilities and driving and a list of health conditions that can affect your ability to drive safely on the GOV.UK website.

Find a driving instructor

You may have a driving instructor recommended to you by a friend or family member. If so, it is important that you to talk to the instructor about your needs and learning style to find out if they’re the best driving instructor for you.

The Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has approved driving instructors that need to meet certain standards to be allowed to teach.  These standards include the ability to adapt their teaching to meet the needs of pupils with physical or cognitive disabilities.

You can find information and contact details for driving schools and approved driving instructors (ADIs) on the GOV.UK website.

Private practice

It is important to practice driving on different types of roads, in different kinds of weather and driving when it is dark.  A driving instructor may not be able to do these things with you during a lesson.

The DVSA recommend that you have at least 20 hours of private practice with a family member or friend before you take your practical test.

Information about who can help you with private practice can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Take a theory test

The theory test is set by the DVSA and takes place at one of their official test centres.

It is taken on a computer and consists of two individual tests that you must take on the same day.

The first is a multiple-choice test based on the rules of the road, the second looks at how able you are to spot hazards.

You can book your theory test, find out about the books and software you can use to revise and the reasonable adjustments you can have made to your theory test on the GOV.UK website.  

You can also take a practice theory test.

From 14 April 2020, the car theory test will include 3 multiple-choice questions based on a short video you'll watch.  The change will make the theory test more accessible, especially to people with a:

  • reading difficulty (like dyslexia)
  • learning disability
  • developmental condition (like autism)

Take a practical test

You can discuss your progress with your driving instructor and agree when you are ready to take your practical test.

You must usually have passed your theory test before you book your practical test.

You can book your driving test on the GOV.UK website.

Apply for a full licence

You can apply for your full driving licence and start to drive as soon as you have passed your practical driving test.

You must make sure that you have an insurance policy that allows you to drive without being supervised. 

You can apply for your full driving licence on the GOV.UK website.

The motability scheme and other financial help

You are eligible to join the Motability scheme if you receive the higher rate component Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

This means that the higher rate mobility component of your PIP will be paid to Motability so that you can lease or buy a car through the scheme.

You may also be able to get help with the cost of driving lessons.

You can find out more about the Motability scheme and help with the cost of driving lessons on the Motability website.

You can get free road tax if you receive the enhanced mobility element of PIP.  You can find out more about vehicle tax exemption on the GOV.UK website.

The Blue Badge scheme

The Blue Badge scheme gives disable people concessions and privileges relating to parking.  These include parking in disabled bays, fewer restrictions on time limits and on being able to park on some single and double yellow lines.

Even though it is a national scheme, blue badges are issued by local authorities.

You can find out more about applying for a blue badge on the council’s website. 

Further information

Disabled Motoring UK supports disabled drivers, passengers and Blue Badge holders. You can find out more about what they do, including their Information, Advice and Guidance service on the Disabled Motoring UK website.

You can also get more information about support available to drive in this article.

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