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Soaring costs of learning to drive impacts learner drivers who are finding it unaffordable. AFP News

Learning to drive is a significant milestone many hope to achieve, but in recent times the independence and freedom a driving licence offers are becoming increasingly unaffordable to attain.

The rising living costs and high inflation has seen the expense of learning to drive surge by 215 per cent over the past 30 to 40 years. Furthermore, research shows that learner drivers are risking prosecution just to be on the road.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), people on average require 45 hours of lessons to learn how to drive, with an additional 22 hours of practising. The average cost of a driving lesson is around £25 to £50 per hour, with the total cost of lessons being around £1,125 to £2,250.

Research by car insurance specialists found the average total cost of learning to drive by estimating the costs for the driving essentials required by learners:

  • Provisional driving licence

£34 to apply online (or £43 by post)

  • Driving lessons

£1,350 (£30 per hour x 45 hours)

  • Driving theory test


  • Driving practical test

£62 for weekday tests (rising to £75 on the weekend)

  • Revision materials

Revision app £5

  • Instructors car for the test

£60 (£30 per hour x 2 at lesson fee rate)

  • Vehicle Tax

£145 (although tbc on vehicle specifics)

  • Average Insurance Estimate 17-24 year olds

£1028 (tbc on driver/vehicle specifics)

  • Estimated Total


However, these estimates do not include the cost of the car. And research from Cinch, an online used car service, reveals that in 2023 the cost of the average first car is now £6,600 and is aged about four years old. Whereas, 20 years ago the average cost of a first car was about £3,090 and was aged six years old. There is also the additional costs of car tax and insurance for the vehicle.

In light of the financial pressures involved in learning to drive, insurance expert Greg Wilson, founder and CEO of expressed his concern for young drivers who were not "getting the option to learn" as "rising costs are making it unaffordable." He also called for the cost of driving lessons and other mandatory fees to be regulated to "help young people get out on the roads and also help ensure they don't cut corners."

Furthermore, research by Select Car Leasing into law-breaking learner drivers, examined DVLA data and found that there are 77,406 learner drivers in the UK who have alarmingly accumulated 419,449 points on provisional licences between them. The 20 to 29-year-old age group was the worst-offending, with the highest number of points totalling 29,690. Followed by the 30 to 39-year-old age group, with 22,065 points amassed.

And in desperate times, desperate measures are undertaken as a study by icompario found how unqualified drivers are resorting to driving illegally because of excessive learning costs. In their survey icompario explored the impact of the cost of living crisis on learner drivers in 2023 and found that "many of the learners that we spoke to would consider driving illegally without a full UK driving licence, if it meant that they could save some cash." And 61 per cent of the non-drivers polled said that they would consider driving without a licence, due to the high costs of learning.

The poll also found that younger Brits were more willing to take risks, as 32 per cent of non-drivers aged between 18 to 24 admitted they could not afford to learn to drive and 36 per cent also could not afford to buy a car. And only 18 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 would not drive without a licence compared to 86 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 who would follow the law and "never" drive without a licence. Overall, icompario concluded that their survey "highlights that you can never be quite sure whether people will take a risk on the roads," and that "some non-drivers feel that driving without a licence is worth the risk to other motorists."

Additionally, in 2022 Motor Insurer's Bureau revealed data of an estimated 25,000 drivers, who held a provisional licence to be driving without valid insurance. Driving without insurance incurs the penalty of an unlimited fine, a ban from driving and receiving up to 8 penalty points for driving. Also, almost half of these drivers were driving without supervision, which incurs the penalty of a fine of up to £1,000 and receiving up to 6 penalty points on your provisional licence.

Finally, although learning to drive is an essential skill to have, it is expensive to fund. As new drivers who survive the costs of learning to drive are then hit not only by the crippling costs of car insurance but also the costs of car tax, MOT, fuel, servicing and maintenance, and breakdown cover. I was lucky enough to have my dad teach me to drive and therefore save on initial costs. According to GOV.UK, you can practise driving with family or friends. They must be aged over 21 and be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, and have held a full UK driving licence for 3 years.