There are a few things that need to be cleared up for the ‘older’ individual wishing to gain independence within the task of travel who think it’s too late for learning to drive.
There is an assumption that the moment you turn 17 you must already have your provisional driving licence in your hand, along with your first driving lesson booked and a driving test planned for a mere few weeks away.
Whilst this method works out well for many, there are a certain percentage who leave the learning to drive process for a later date. Reasons vary, though most are due to time constraints, often down to college or work and the fact that it’s currently unnecessary due to living in a city that has good public transport. Others may have started out learning to drive but were put off by a bad experience and didn’t continue.
Then seemingly little time has past, but you’re suddenly 30 / 40 years old and are in need of a driving licence. It does of course start with the phone call..
- I’m 30 / 40 years old, how many driving lessons will I need?
- Am I too old to learn to drive?
- Have I left it too late, is there much point in learning to drive?
I have taught many individuals to drive who fall into the 30 / 40 + age range. It’s far more common than many think and the good news is that older learner drivers are equally as good at learning to drive than the teenagers – though often due to different reasons.
Why Can Older People Learn to Drive
As an older learner driver, you might start out feeling that you’re up against an impossible task, but that’s likely to change very quickly.
- Confidence- for most of us, the older we get our confidence grows. This allows a mature learner to relax and take in the process step-by-step
- Due to likely being a passenger for years, older learners will already have a good level of road sense and the ability to recognise potential hazards
Negative Aspects of an Older Learner Driver
This isn’t necessarily typical of every mature learner driver, but may affect some due to age.
- Situations often occur quickly whilst driving and the older we get, the slower we react
How Many Lessons will I Need as an Older Learner?
Many variables can be found here from how age has affected an individuals reaction times (if at all), confidence levels, natural ability to drive, type or difficulty of roads where learning to drive and taking the driving test, manual or automatic transmission etc.
Everyone whatever their age is of course different and requires a specific amount of driving lessons to gain test standard. But to give an average, based on zero previous driving experience:
- A 17 year old will require around 30 hours
- A 30 year old will require around 40 hours
- A 40 year old will require around 50 hours
You can probably see a pattern forming here. For each 10 years that we age you can expect an extra 10 hours of lessons required.
Age Related Driving Test Statistics
Your typical 17 year old will likely pick things up a little quicker than a mature individual, particularly young male drivers who also come complete with confidence levels of that found only in immortals. Statistically this is reflected by young male learners having the highest pass rates.
Statistics based on official Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) data on male and females, 20 years of age from April 2014 to March 2015.
|Pass Rate %
Now let’s look at those same statistics, but this time with male and female statistics combined and based on age:
|Pass Rate %
It’s Never Too Late to Learn to Drive
Ok, so statistically the older we get, the lower the chance of passing the driving test. That is until we reach our sixties where pass rates begin to increase again. The lower pass rates could be in part due to reaction times getting a little slower, but it’s more likely due to the fact that as we age, we consider our actions and the impact it has on others. For example, taking your time to exit a junction safely may be seen as overly hesitant to an examiner. Even in your forties and fifties, you still stand a 1 in 3 chance of passing first time. Those odds are pretty good, so let’s start learning to drive!
Tips For Older Learner Drivers
To be perfectly honest, advice for older learner drivers doesn’t really change too much compared to that of a young learner.
- Driving instructor – Don’t be afraid to be picky on your choice of driving instructors. It’s important that you find an instructor that you feel comfortable sitting alongside, that you understand their teaching methods clearly and that they motivate you and pick up on any errors you make. See how to find a good driving instructor for further information.
- Regular lessons – Infrequent or irregular driving lessons reduces your drive to succeed, plus you’ll spend longer at the start of each lesson recapping what you covered last time. If possible, aim for 2 x one and a half hour or 2 x 2 hour lessons each week.
- Experience – The more experience the better! If possible gain further driving experience from family or friends. Use it as experience only though and leave the teaching to the instructor.
- Manual or automatic – Give manual transmission a try and if you really can’t get to grips with clutch control and gear shifting, opt for automatic. If you pass in a manual, you can drive any manual and also drive automatics. Pass in a automatic and you’re limited to only automatic cars. To many however, automatics are significantly easier to drive and may reduce the amount of time required to learn. See automatic or manual for further information.
Driving Courses for Older Drivers
There are no specific courses for older learner drivers. You’ll be taking exactly the same course as any other learner. As a mature learner driver, you may benefit from an older, more experienced instructor.
To Sum Up
You’ll be a little nervous when starting out just as everyone else, but don’t let the fact that you’re an older learner driver have any influence, other than the fact that you’re now more capable of making wise decisions. The most important initial task is to find yourself a great driving instructor. Do that and you’ll probably find driving lessons fun and enjoyable.