When my children were little, other parents would say to me – ‘enjoy it while they are young. This is the easy bit!’ How I laughed! Not for one minute did I believe them – this simply couldn’t be the EASY bit? Surely?
But it turns out they were right. They were wiser than me, and they knew that when your children are tucked up in bed after, albeit a physically exhausting day, you know where they are and you decide what they do.
Then they get older. And then they want to go out. And then they want to go out in old cars and drive around with their friends and go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to go there.
Probably one of the worst days of my life as a parent has been when my older children passed their driving tests. My youngest (of three) has just started learning. It is not necessarily their driving that worries me but all the other nutters out there on our roads.
Some parents yearn for this day, but even they cannot deny the uncertainty it brings, along with the cost. Don’t get me started!
What you end up paying
- You can apply for a provisional licence from the age of 15 years and 9 months but you can’t actually drive a car until 16. The cost for the licence is £34 – you can apply online here
- You pay £23 for the theory test. Top tip – do not let them take it until you are sure they know the answer to every question on the GovUK practice theory test website because it costs every time if you have to retake it.
- Then there’s the cost of lessons which on average are around £20 an hour. You never know exactly how many they may need until they start and for some that can be quite a few – I’ve generally budgeted for 15 lessons with a further 15 hours of private driving (£300 in total). This got my son through the test first time, my daughter needed some additional lessons to get her through the second time of trying. (Please note the UK average across all age groups to pass is 45 hours of lessons and a further 22 hours of private driving so you may be in for a lot more!)
- Then you need insurance if you want them to practice in your own car on a provisional license. For a provisional driver, you may need to pay for an amendment to your policy plus the additional premiums. There are so many factors that can impact this cost you will need to contact your insurer and discuss the options. We paid £30 to amend the policy and our annual policy increased by around £200.
- Then you must pay for the test itself. £62 – £75 depending on when you take it. You may end up paying once, twice or even more if you are unlucky. Once again do not rush into it so they are as ready as can be when the big day comes.
- Then there’s the option of buying them a car or insuring them on your own (we opted for this and changed our car to one in a lower insurance bracket). Even by doing this our premiums shot up to close to £800 for the first year but then reduced significantly in subsequent years. If ensuring their own car check out the comparison sites to get the best deal. A lot of our children’s friends opted for a black box. This can help reduce premiums but don’t be surprised to get quotes for around £1000
A note on buying a car – obviously, this really does depend on your financial position and I’ve known parents buy brand new cars for their children as well children who have bought themselves a very serviceable little run around for under £600. The key is to check what the insurance premiums will be before you buy and make sure if they are organising the insurance themselves they must disclose any modifications the car may have had.
- Don’t forget the annual running costs that first-time drivers often forget. The RAC says it costs around £472 to maintain a used car over the course of a year. The tax can cost you a further £100 depending on the car emissions and if you’re driving 10,000 miles a year it may cost you around £500 in fuel.
[please note these costs are just to give an indication and are approximations only]
So you pay all of this, and you no longer have to give your children lifts everywhere. But you also pay in anxiety, doubt, fear and sleep loss. Oh, and if you opt for insuring them on your own car you also find yourself car-less a lot.
But on the plus side – you can finally get pay back for all those lifts you have given them over the years. Be a bit late coming out when they are waiting outside, so they know how you felt. Change the time at the last minute, offer lifts to all your friends without telling them beforehand and moan if they can’t give you a lift exactly when you want one. It feels great. Oh, and you can now have the odd drink while you are out and they can be the designated driver for once!