How Long Does It Take to Learn How to Drive?

How long does it take to learn how to drive? It takes time to learn how to drive properly. You need to learn how to use the gas, brakes, lane changes, parking, and much more. But how long will it take? In this article, I’ll answer this question and give tips to learn faster.

How long does it take to learn to drive? To learn how to drive, it will generally take you 45 hours of studying and 22 hours of practice on the road. This is according to data released by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) of the UK Department for Transport.

So that is about 70 hours total to learn how to drive. If you spend one hour a day to learn, then you could learn how to drive in about 2 months. If you spend 2 hours a day to learn, then you could learn how to drive in about 1 month.

The time it takes to learn how to drive varies depending on how good your driving instructor is, and whether you are learning an automatic or manual transmission car. Over time, your driving skills will improve and you will become a better defensive driver.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to learn how to drive and tips for learning faster.

How Long Does It Take to Learn How to Drive?

The DVSA reports that it will generally take someone 45 hours of studying and 22 hours of practice to learn how to drive. [1] But after spending this amount of time, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to pass your driving test.

Just because you already have an idea how to drive doesn’t mean that you’re already a good driver. Just like with any other endeavor, you only become an expert if you practice every day. After all, as the proverb goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

Factors That Affect One’s Ability to Drive

Several factors can affect your ability to drive. The main factors are as follows:

  1. Professional driving instructor vs. parent as a driving instructor
  2. Age
  3. Automatic vs. manual transmission

Let’s talk about each of them.

1. Professional Driving Instructor Vs. Parent as a Driving Instructor

“Parents always know best.” We always hear this adage because, apparently, parents indeed know best. They have more life experiences compared to their children. And these experiences include driving. Besides, nobody else knows children better than their parents.

And from the parents’ point of view, they are confident that they can teach their children how to drive. Most parents believe, especially the fathers, that there is no need to hire professional driving instructors.

I personally believe that parents are truly capable of doing so. In fact, both the child and parent would feel safer since they won’t be dealing with strangers. But sometimes, parents also need to consider how comfortable their children are in having them as instructors.

Remember how children prefer to listen to their teachers instead of their parents in terms of academic lessons? In the same manner that children prefer to listen to professional coaches instead of their own parents in terms of sports? As expected, it’s basically the same when it comes to driving.

So, if you’re a teenager who’s eager to learn how to drive, ask yourself, “What is my comfort level in terms of having a parent as my driving instructor?” But then, also ask yourself, “Does it matter to me if I take driving lessons from my parents or a driving instructor?” Because if you are genuinely eager to learn how to drive, it won’t matter anymore who your instructor is.

how long does it take to learn to drive

2. Age

So, is age really a factor in terms of your capability to learn how to drive? Generally, yes. That’s why, by law, there is this thing called “legal age.” In most US states, one has to be 16 years old in order to be legally allowed to drive. In some states, though, the legal age for driving is 18 years old. In other states, a learner’s permit can be obtained as early as 14 years old.

Why does the law set a legal age for driving? Because the level of maturity has to be taken into consideration. Once you reach the age of 16, you are expected to be responsible enough to drive. And that in case of unavoidable circumstances, you are old enough to handle situations on your own.

How long to learn how to drive also depends on your readiness and eagerness. What if you’re already 16, but you feel you’re not yet mature and responsible enough to drive? Well, in that case, don’t drive and don’t get a driver’s license yet.

Can older (than teen) people still learn to drive and obtain a driver’s license? The answer is yes. There is definitely no maximum age for learning how to drive. As long as you’re willing to learn, and you are matured and responsible enough, then nobody’s stopping you from learning.

However, for people who are not so young anymore, evaluate yourselves if it’s still safe for you to drive. Perhaps, you might consider hiring a driver or use public transportation instead.

At any age, however, you should be able to learn how to drive in about 1 to 2 months with daily practice.

3. Automatic Vs. Manual Transmission

Of course, it is easier to learn to drive a car with automatic transmission. With a car having a manual transmission, you are the one responsible for shifting the gears. Whereas, when it comes to cars with automatic transmission, it’s the car that does that for you.

And so to answer the question, “How long does it take to learn how to drive?” The answer depends on your car’s type of transmission. For sure, you’ll learn more easily with a car in automatic transmission than with one in manual. But that is if we’re merely talking about learning to use the accelerator, brakes, and steering wheel.

It’s a different story when we’re talking about defensive driving. In which case, it doesn’t even matter if you’re driving a manual or an automatic.

Steps You Need to Take to Learn How to Drive

First, are you allowed to drive? I have mentioned earlier that the legal age for driving depends on your state. So, the first step you need to do is to confirm if you’re already old enough to drive. Remember that driving when you’re a minor and faking your age to drive are illegal and subject you to repercussions.

Graduated Driver’s License

New drivers have to undergo and complete a graduated driver licensing (GDL) process, to obtain the following:

  • Learner’s Permit
  • Intermediate Permit
  • Driver’s License

This process is not yet applicable to the entire country but is already being implemented in most states. Eventually, this must be strictly followed all over the nation as it was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Step 1. Obtain Driver’s Education

Once you confirm that you are of legal age, your next step is to learn how to drive by taking a formal driver’s education course. There are several options available for new learners. Learners can take the course in their high school or enroll in an external private classroom course. Some states offer online education too.

Step 2. Obtain a Learner’s Permit

After taking the driver’s education course, you may now take the exam to obtain your Learner’s Permit. It’s not supposed to be difficult, as long as you understand everything discussed in the course.

In case you fail the Learner’s Permit exam, don’t worry. You are eligible to retake it. In fact, in some states, you are allowed to retake it after 24 hours. But make sure to pass it as there is a limit to how many times you can retake the exam. There’s a waiting period of 60 days before you can retake the exam in other states.

how long to learn how to drive

Step 3. Obtain Hands-on Training

Once you obtain your Learner’s Permit, it’s time to do some hands-on training. For this step, you may hire a professional driving instructor, or you may seek help from your parents or guardian. As we have discussed earlier, how long to learn to drive also depends on who’s teaching you.

So, decide whether you find it comfortable to learn with a professional instructor or with your parents or guardian. But then again, if you are 100 percent willing to learn how to drive, it doesn’t really matter who your instructor is.

Step 4. Obtain a Driver’s License

Once you have completed your behind-the-wheel training hours, you may now obtain a Driver’s License. By this time, you are expected to have obtained basic driving skills. But basic driving skills alone are not enough.

You have to improve your skills, and it can only happen once you start to practice every day. There are just skills that can’t be taught by anyone else. You have to experience it by yourself with regular practice to get the hang of it.

We’ve answered the question, ‘how long does it take to learn how to drive’ – in general; next, let’s look at the time it takes to learn to drive a car with a manual transmission.

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Drive Manual?

The rule states that only 22 hours of behind-the-wheel training are needed to obtain a Driver’s License. However, it actually takes more than that to fully learn how to drive a car, especially a car with a manual transmission.

It can take you a day or two to learn how to use the clutch, shifting gear, and gas pedal to accelerate the car. You’ll also learn to use the clutch, shifting gear, and brake pedal all at the same time to make it stop.

But learning when and how to change gears is another thing. Learning to glance at the dashboard panel to check your speed is also another thing. Of course, you need to learn how to glance at the side view and rearview mirrors too. Come to think of it, driving a manual vehicle is like multitasking at its finest.

So, if you’re curious about the answer to the question, “How long does it take to learn to drive manual?” It may take about a week to learn it. But it will also depend on how fast you’re willing to learn. Some learn after a week or even longer. In case you’re taking a while, don’t get disappointed. You’re definitely not alone.

If ever you’re interested in learning to drive a manual more than an automatic vehicle, it is advisable to hire a professional driving instructor. You can hire a professional unless your parents or guardian can efficiently teach you.

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take to Learn to Drive?

So, to recap, how long does it take to learn how to drive? It will generally take you 45 hours of discussion and 22 hours of hands-on training before you can say that you know how to drive. This is according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency of the UK Department for Transport.

But that is merely learning the basic skills because it takes longer to become a defensive driver.

Before you can finally drive on your own, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Complete a driver’s education course
  2. Get a Learner’s Permit
  3. Attend hands-on training
  4. Obtain a driver’s license

Several factors can also affect your ability to learn how to drive. They are as follows: 

  1. Professional driving instructor vs. parent as a driving instructor
  2. Age
  3. Automatic vs. manual transmission

Consider these important factors when determining the duration of your learning process.

And for the question, “How long does it take to learn to drive stick?” It is way longer than learning to drive an automatic. Because, as I have mentioned earlier, driving a manual car is like multitasking at its best.

But then again, nobody can actually tell how long you can learn how to drive except you. If you give 100 percent of your concentration, you will absolutely learn in no time.

It doesn’t matter who your instructor is. Whether your vehicle features a manual or an automatic transmission isn’t supposed to be a problem too. It all boils down to one thing–your willingness to learn.