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Learning to drive? Here are the cheapest places to learn in the UK

·4-min read
It takes Brits about 47 lessons to learn to drive. Photos: Andy Art/Unsplash
It takes Brits about 47 lessons to learn to drive. Photo: Andy Art/Unsplash

Getting behind the wheel and learning how to drive is one of life’s many milestones, but some people may be deterred because of the costs involved.

According to the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Weston-super-Mare is the cheapest place to learn to drive in the UK, with two other cities in Somerset following closely behind.

Data from the DSA shows the average UK learner who passed their test took 47 hours of lessons. However, the total cost for these lessons can vary dramatically depending on where you live.

Research by Hitachi Personal Finance found learner drivers in London pay about £30 per lesson or £1,410, overall — while those in the south-west pay considerably less, at just £24 per lesson or £1,128, overall.

Cost of 47 driving lessons by region

  • London (£1,410)

  • Midlands (£1,363)

  • Scotland (£1,316)

  • South-east (£1,269)

  • North-west (£1,269)

  • East of England (£1,222)

  • North-east (£1,222)

  • Wales (£1,222)

  • Yorkshire and the Humber (£1,222)

  • South-west (£1,128)

There are also other costs involved on top of these 47 lessons, including paying for a provisional license, theory test and practical test. Then to finally hit the road, new drivers also need to shell out for insurance once they pass their test.

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This means the average learner spends at least a whopping £1,6761 before they can legally get behind the wheel.

Combining the total costs with the likelihood of passing first time by test centre, Weston-super-Mare in Somerset is the cheapest place to learn to drive, with learners paying about £2,879 for lessons, provisional licences and both parts of the driving test, against an impressive 65% pass rate.

Yeovil, also in Somerset, follows closely behind, costing learners about £2,879, against a 63% pass rate.

Salisbury, Wiltshire is the third-cheapest place in the UK to learn to drive, coming in at about £2,879, against a 59% pass rate.

Poole, Dorset is fourth, at £2,879, with a 57% pass rate, and Taunton, also in Somerset, is fifth, at £2,879, with a 54% pass rate. This puts three out of five of the cheapest places in the UK to learn to drive in the south-west county.

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Meanwhile, Belvedere and Erith in London is the most expensive place to learn to drive, with drivers paying about £3,311, against a pass rate of just 32%.

It is followed by Barking at £3,311 with a 33% pass rate, Birmingham at £3,264 with a 32% pass rate, Leicester at £3,264 with a 33% pass rate, and Barnet in London at £3,236 with a 34% pass rate.

These are just the immediate compulsory costs, as successful learners may also need to consider the cost of buying or leasing a vehicle if they don’t already have access to a car, fuel costs, breakdown cover, MOT and tax, the study noted.

Delving into the test centres where learners have the best chance of passing first time, Mallaig in Scotland has the highest first-time pass rate, at 93%. For every 1.08 tests taken, one is passed.

Meanwhile, the Isle of Skye has the worst first-time pass rate, at just 27%. For every 3.7 tests taken, only one is passed.

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It seems age and gender can have an impact on your likelihood to pass first time. Interestingly, 17 and under is the best age to pass for both men (56%) and women (53%).

For female learner drivers, the worst age to pass based on the lowest first-time pass rate is 60, while for male drivers, it’s a tied between 57, 55 and 51 — indicating that if hopeful drivers want to keep down the costs, they should get out on the roads as soon as they can.

Vincent Reboul, managing director at Hitatchi Personal Finance said: “Learning to drive can be an expensive business, and it’s important for learners to be aware of all of the costs involved before they begin taking lessons.

“Luckily in the UK, it is possible for learners to learn with a parent or friend if they have the required experience, which can really help to reduce overall costs, even if those lessons are mixed with official tuition from a registered instructor. And some instructors do offer the option to bulk buy lessons for a discount, which is always worth enquiring about.

“It’s clear that costs vary vastly across the UK, as do first-time pass rates, so it’s important to make an informed decision when choosing where to learn to drive and who to learn with, and consider where you may have the best chance of passing first-time to ultimately keep costs down.”

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