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The real cost of driving

I'm spending more than I thought learning to drive!

Emilia Smith profile

Emilia Smith

April 24, 2018

Learning to drive Young driver stories 6 min read

Like many people, Emilia is learning to drive. The costs of this are different for everyone, and there are many different ways you can spend your money to get to the magic pass. Emilia is here sharing her story, all about how her driving journey is costing her more than she first thought – can you relate?


So I hit 17! The first item on the agenda? Get my hands on my provisional driving licence. £34 to apply online, so I made this a priority as soon as I become of age. I did feel it was a bit steep for a bit of plastic with, what I’ll only describe as a ‘non-Instagram worthy selfie’ but hey, it must be done! I mean, does anyone look good on their driving licence photo?

I had heard the stories of these people who manage to pass their driving test after 15 hours of practice and at £25 pound a lesson, I thought “yeah ok, that’s reasonable. I’ll have passed within no time”. When I started my driving lessons, it was all going so well!

The costs are racking up

After about 9 hours of driving lessons, my instructor said it was time for me to tackle my theory test. It was £23 at this point which didn’t seem too bad. I was pretty worried about taking my theory test – exams have never been my strong suit, but I knew that it needed to be done!  I spent a lot of time revising for my theory and went for it!  But what did I do? Fail! By 1 point! I was absolutely gutted. I wanted to keep costs as low as possible when I was learning to drive, so having to fork out for another theory test was a bump in the road, to say the least. Nevertheless, I kept going and tried to keep a positive attitude. I didn’t let it stop me and I rebooked in for my theory test. Now I know what you’re thinking. This is where I say I passed the second time, and we all lived happily ever after, but no. 5 times in total it took me before I passed my theory… 5!  Yes before you know it, I had spent whopping £115 on the theory test alone!

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How much longer?!

My instructor was so confident that I’d pass my practical test, I knew it wouldn’t be long until I got my freedom! Finally, no more begging mom for lifts here there and everywhere. I booked my test, and at £63 I thought that was pretty expensive! But I was confident and prayed I wouldn’t have to fork out this cost more than once (like I did with the good old theory test) Soon after booking my test, I was told I had to pay another £65 to my instructor for the car hire…. Anything else!? This is costing me a fortune! The big day came and I went off full of confidence – I knew I could drive. Unfortunately, I failed. I had drifted lanes slightly on a roundabout which gave me a dangerous fault, aside from that I only got 2 minors. Part of me wishes I had failed miserably. I think my instructor would have rung my neck had it of been legal because this was something that had never been an issue. So not only did my theory test end up costing me a small fortune, but this test meant there was another £128 gone! I instantly booked another because let’s face it they say all the best one pass second time right? It was a few months later but I decided to continue lessons as I wanted consistency, and why not spend a bit more money whilst I’m here?

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Save me money!

My dad and I came up with the idea, that it would be great (and money saving) to get a car to practice driving between my lessons, so we kept a lookout for one within budget… Now at this point, I’d love to say  I popped to my local Mini garage and bought a nice new Mini Cooper, however, I’m sadly lacking a lottery win – so that wasn’t the case. A girl can dream, right? In the end, we bought a little blue 56 Ford KA. Keith the KA was a bargain, and whilst it cost me more in a lump sum, I knew I’d be saving money in the long run with the private practice I’d be getting.

The journey continues

So am I still taking lessons now? Yes – absolutely! I’m continuing to push through even though it’s more money and I’ll have spent an additional £250 on lessons alone. I know I could have used my own car, but after so much practice in my driving instructors car, I feel I’m more comfortable and confident with my driving in that. I’m prepared to pay the price as it WILL be worth it in the end. I’m struggling with the bay parking still a bit, but this is something me and my instructor are determined to get right (even if we do annoy the locals with our constant use of the Tesco car park). Even though I won’t be taking my test in the KA, and it has racked up more money on this driving journey, I do think it was a great idea to get my own car! My overall confidence has improved. I will continue to practice practice practice and we will see what happens on May the 22nd at 10.13am (talk about being precise!)


It seems learning to drive can cost different prices for us all, but Emilia has so far spent over £750 on learning to drive, but she is cutting costs by getting her own car to practice in. We’re sure she’ll get there and it will all be worth it in the end. We’re wishing Emilia all the best in her driving journey, and can’t wait to hear how she gets on with her next test!

Emilia Smith profile

By Emilia Smith

'My name's Emilia and I'm 20 years old. I have been learning to drive for about 2 years and failed my test 3 times, with my 4th test booked in soon. Once I have my freedom I would love to work in animal welfare. I spend most of my time looking after my Cocker Spaniel, Buzz.'  See more posts by Emilia

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