Learning To Drive Is a Process
So, you’re wondering about learning to drive. Specifically, how long does it take to learn to drive? While everyone is different, the short answer is about 60 hours. Most people need at the very minimum 60 hours to learn to drive.
At the driving school where I used to work, we would always recommend that learners acquire at least 60 hours before attempting the first road test.
In addition, ICBC used to have these log papers. ICBC would give them to people when they passed their knowledge test. It was to keep track of every hour (or chunk of time) that you drive.
The goal of that paperwork was also to work towards getting at least 60 hours experience before attempting the road test.
For some reason, this seems to be the magical amount of time it takes the average human to learn to drive.
I am sure those log papers are not required anymore. But still a great idea to write down (or maybe there’s an app for that) and keep track of your practicing hours. And aim for 60 hours practice.
This will give you a rough idea of ‘where you are’ on your learning journey. It’s also an excuse to be nice to yourself.
If you can clearly see that you’ve only driven for 13 hours, you can be nice to yourself if you aren’t having a good time with it. It takes a long time to become skilled. And driving, it is a skill for sure. One that takes much practice to polish.
How Long Does It Take To Learn To Drive: Why
So why does it take this long to learn to drive? Well, it just does. Learning to drive is a lot. The learner has to deal with:
- Figuring out all the car controls like gas, brake, steering wheel, wipers, heaters, seat adjustments, head rest adjustments; all those knobs and doohickeys are potentially brand new things to get used to
- Being nervous; becoming less nervous takes times
- Always having a co-pilot. Obviously this is good, and necessary, but it also means the driver has someone ‘watching them’ 100% of the time. So they sometimes worry about that in addition to everything else.
- Some people don’t have a very patient instructor/co-pilot and this can cause added stress
- Other drivers on the road may or may not be patient. This adds more stress too, when they start to honk or act aggressively
- Personal issues, such as being a teenager and having to live with raging hormones and other teenager issues
Learn To Drive: Some Tips
It usually takes quite a while (20-30 hours) just to get good at controlling the vehicle, and at driving through basic intersections.
We’re talking smooth stopping and starting, being able to drive in a straight line, and being able to turn right and left properly, which is one of the most difficult things to learn and to teach by the way.
It’s best if the learner can find an area that is not too busy or stressful to start out in. It’s just too much to deal with controlling the car and other traffic at the same time.
Learners need to get used to right of way rules, which car should go first in different situations.
After the basic intersection stuff is good, such as 2-way and 4-way stops, the driver can move on. This is when we need to see confidence, safe decision making skills, smooth control of the vehicle, bigger intersections, lane changing on busy roads, and parking, just to name a few.
I always thought of learning to drive kind of like building a house. You need a good foundation. You need to build it slowly and in the correct order. You need to build on what you’ve already built. And you need to add some finishing touches at the end.
Pro tip: do some kind of backing up or parking once each time you go to practice driving. It’s good to practice the backing here and there, rather than all at once.
In real life, people park once when they get where they’re going, right? I met so many people who did zero backing up and then tried to learn it all just before the road test. That’s a lot, and tends to hurt people’s brains, including your instructors’ or co-pilots’.
How Long Should A New Driver Drive For Before Attempting The First Road Test?
After 10 hours of driving..
Most new drivers can control the vehicle in a smooth way, but aren’t sure about right of way or traffic rules.
After about 30 hours of driving…
Most new drivers know what to do, but aren’t very confident or efficient. Their parking may or may not be very good.
After about 60 hours of driving…
Most new drivers will have built up a certain level of confidence, knowledge, and skill.
On the road test, the examiner wants to see not only that you know what to do in a number of different traffic situations, but also that you are safe, legal, confident and efficient. In addition, you should be able to recognize errors in other drivers and respond appropriately.
It is never a bad idea to take a driving lesson as an assessment before your road test.