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Learning to drive

Should you get driving experience before you turn 17?

You can apply for your provisional driving licence when you're 15 years and 9 months old, but you can't have your first driving lesson on the road until you're actually 17.

You might be BURSTING to get going or you might be a little nervous. Either way, a little bit of a head-start could help you out.

Driving before you're 17

Although you can't go out on the road before you turn 17, you can have a go at driving on a private track. There are quite a few places to do this in the UK and a lot of them are specially designed for teenagers who've never driven before.

What to look for

If you're trying to find the right centre for you to give driving a try, look for one that provides proper instructors and dual controls. Although you'll be on a track with little risk of crashing into something, to benefit from experiencing what it'll be like when you have your first driving lessons, you want it to be as realistic as possible.

Yeah, it would be fun to zoom around a track but remember why you want to do it. If you can find a centre near you that will give you a taster of manouevres and other things you'll have to learn before your driving test, that's perfect.

What you want from a pre-17 track day:

  • Dual controls
  • Qualified driving instructors
  • Explanation of how to move off and stop safely
  • Short sessions - you'll be worn out after an hour!
  • Introduction to manoeuvres
  • Emphasis on driving skills rather than LOLz
  • Licence from the International Organisation of Professional Drivers to teach under-17s

What you DON'T want from a pre-17 track day:

  • A super car - that Lambourghini might be tempting but you won't be learing to drive in one, so it's pointless
  • More than 2 hours in the car - you won't be able to take any more in after that
  • A 'race' focus - find a centre that will teach you basic skills, not flashy stuff

If you do it the right way, a few preparatory goes before you turn 17 will mean you get the most out of your first driving lessons. You'll feel more confident (not TOO confident though - you're not a driving genius yet) and you'll probably get to grips with the basics much quicker.

If you've got your first driving lesson coming up, go see what to expect.