Years ago it was the norm to learn to drive by taking one hourly driving lesson a week, but with many learner drivers needing more than 30 hours of driving tuition to be test ready it can take up to a year for them to pass their driving test.
It used to be the case that parents booked driving lessons as soon as their son or daughter turned 17,there was no rush for them to pass their test and so an hour a week was enough to keep them going. Nowadays, however, there is much more urgency about learning to drive. Pupils are often older when they start learning to drive, many post-university, and driving lessons are now not for pleasure but a necessity for work or travel, as a result learners want the quickest route possible to pass their test.
So is an intensive driving course the better way to learn and is it really the quickest route to test? Ignition Driving School have consolidated the thoughts of all their experienced instructors to help you make the right decision. If a learner driver has just one hour per week then by the time their next lesson arrives they will have forgotten some of the things they learned and so they will have to go over old ground each new lesson. Learning intensively, however, allows the learner driver to progress more quickly because the gap between lessons is shorter and they are less likely to have forgotten what they have previously been taught.
Learning intensively though can become counter productive if too many driving lessons are done over a short space of time. Learning to drive is tiring and learning a new skill is always a challenge. If there is no time to relax in between lessons then the learner driver can become tired and stressed and make more mistakes. It is therefore better to do an absolute maximum of 10 hours each week for a few weeks than it is to cram 20-30 hours in over a single week. This spacing of lessons gives the learner time to relax and reflect on what they have learnt. By working semi-intensively like this,the learner also has the opportunity to add in extra driving lessons if needed and work on areas of weakness.
Some learner drivers simply need to have passed by a certain date as a change to their life such as a new job requires that they have a licence. However, driving schools cannot get tests quicker than the general public, as driving tests can only be booked in the candidate’s name. Due to the waiting times for the tests it is impossible to do the theory test and practical test in the same week (no matter what some companies advertise!). The waiting time for a theory test is approximately 3 weeks and for a practical driving test the average waiting time is around 6 weeks, though this can rise up to 10 weeks at some test centres over busy periods. As a practical driving test cannot be booked until the learner has passed their theory test, then realistically an intensive driving course would take around 3 months to complete. So, there is no real need to cram driving lessons in over a short time period as the test waiting time dictates how long the course will be.
This is actually a good thing. Our ability to deal with road situations only comes with experience , so the more experience a learner driver has the better equipped they will be to deal with problems. Cramming lessons into a couple of weeks and going from no experience at all to having passed your test is simply unsafe. It is not possible for a driver to have acquired enough road experience in such a short time to be a safe driver. If you have had to learn in such a concentrated fashion then be aware that your road experience will be severely limited and you should seriously consider having more lessons after your test to broaden your experience and prepare you properly for motorway driving. In particular you should consider having lessons in different atmospheric conditions. Learning to drive in the sun on dry roads will simply not prepare you for the differences in visibility, handling and braking that occur on wet, icy or misty roads. (Have a read of the DVLA’s post on driving in adverse conditions.)
Overall, whilst there are advantages to working intensively the reality is that the waiting times for tests will ultimately determine how many weeks the course will be spread over. With careful planning though, a test date 6-8 weeks in the future will allow the learner driver to easily factor in a course of 30 or more lessons, whilst working at a steady rate. This route to test gives the learner flexibility to increase the number of driving lessons should they need them, whilst also giving them room to breathe and relax, altogether leading to a more successful outcome on test day.