Learning to drive; before you start your driving lessons

Minimum Age

You must be a minimum of 17 years old and hold a UK provisional license, issued by the DVLA, before you can start to learn to drive.

Provisional Driving License

Your provisional license is the start of your driving career and a requirement before you start driving lessons. For those keen to get started you may apply for your provisional driving license up to three months before your 17th birthday. However your license will not be valid, and driving lessons cannot begin, until you 17th birthday.

If you are disabled and receiving mobility allowance you may apply for your provisional license from the age of 16.

Learning to Drive and your Eyesight

Before learning to drive your instructor will check your eye sight, this will also be checked at the start of your driving test. It is therefore worthwhile having your eyes checked before taking your first driving lesson if you are in any doubt. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, these must be worn whenever you are driving.

The minimum requirement is that you must be able to read an old-style number plate in good daylight from a distance of 20.5 metres (that's 67 feet, or about five car lengths). The distance for the new-style number plates introduced in September 2001 is 20 metres (66 feet).

Learning to Drive before age 17

If you want to start learning to drive on private land, the site you have access to must be gated and remote from all public highways. However, if the land is connected to any form of public highway, then, irrespective of its ownership, it is illegal under the Road Traffic Act for any under age or unlicensed learner to drive there.

See our under 17's driving lessons for learning to drive with an A Drive Tuition Instructor in advance.

Essential Reading

Before stepping inside a car, perhaps whilst waiting for your provisional license or between lessons. The Highway Code is a great place to start. Also, starting to practise your driving theory and hazard perception on a PC or video could boost your skills and improve your chances of passing both the Theory and Practical Tests. There are many resources available on the Internet to help in these areas.

Medical reasons you may not be able to learn to drive

There are certain medical conditions that may prevent you from driving, or at least require a doctors certificate to ensure you are fit to drive. An outline of some of these is listed below although the DVLA should be consulted for a full list. These items are covered on the application for a provisions license.

  • Epilepsy
  • Certain Heart Conditions
  • Anyone taking drugs likely to cause drowsiness