It is said the average learner driver at 17 years of age needs 45 lessons to pass their test – at a cost of more than £1,500.
The average cost of an hour-long on-the-road lesson is around £35, and with the cost-of-living crisis and a backlog for available driving tests over the summer, passing quickly and at the first time of asking has never been more important.
So could starting to learn to drive before the age of 17 help make it easier to pass?
According to new research by Young Driver, the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school, it turns out 74 per cent of more than 100 driving instructors questioned said Young Driver past pupils who started their learning journey before the age of 17 needed fewer on-the-road lessons to be safe and skilled enought to pass their test.
The driving school also questioned 650 past-pupils to find out how many on-the-road lessons they had received at 17 before they passed their test. Young Driver past-pupils took on average just 19 professional lessons at the age of 17 before passing their test – compared to the national average of 45.
Seventy-six per cent said Young Driver lessons had helped them pass their test more easily, with 68 per cent feeling they needed fewer on-the-road lessons because of the grounding they already had.
Interestingly, enabling young learners to pass their test more quickly did not lead to a compromise on safety. In fact, the data demonstrates the opposite is true.
On average, 20 per cent of new drivers in the UK have an accident in the first six months after passing their test. For Young Driver past pupils that figure dropped to less than four per cent.
Sue Stait, head of marketing at Young Driver, said: “The idea behind Young Driver and pre-17 driving tuition came from a Swedish study back in the 1990s which showed a huge reduction in the accident rate for newly qualified drivers who had started to learn at a younger age. It makes sense that starting to learn earlier – with less pressure – can help create neural pathways in the brain for the ‘mechanical’ elements of driving.
“Practice makes perfect. Then when it comes to 17, those ‘beginner’ driving lessons aren’t necessary – it can be more about learning to read other road users and situations, along with hazard awareness.
“That grounding can give them the basic driving skills needed to safely control a car.”