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Learning to drive

Does learning to drive have to be costly and terrifying? Helen Turier’s 19-year-old daughters, Victoria and Georgina, have just been through it.

How did you get started and dare we ask, what did it cost?

Before Georgina (left) and Victoria turned 17 they did a two-hour track session then five one-hour lessons on the road. The package came to £195 each, plus £50 each for the provisional driving license. I booked the track sessions as I wanted them to be confident about changing gear and so on before they got onto the open road. It enabled them to develop their skills in a safe, controlled environment without the hazards and distractions of driving on the road. The instructor used a dual-controlled car on a realistic 3.5 mile track at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome. They did the sessions on different days - I drank a lot of tea with one daughter in the coffee shops of Cranleigh whilst the other was driving.

And from there?

After the initial block of five, the girls self funded from their savings, buying lessons in blocks so that instead of £27 per hour they paid £240 for 10 hours. They then used their savings and earnings to jointly purchase a Citroen C1 2007 to practice in, as the insurance on my car was too much. I didn’t pay towards this but paid well over £1750 for their initial insurance.

How did the tests go?

They started lessons in March, passed the theory test in August (£25 each) and then applied for the practical (£62). Georgina took hers on 27 August: she passed. Victoria took hers the next day and …didn’t. She stopped in the wrong place at temporary traffic lights on a narrow road.

Oh dear…

It was tough for us all. We were pleased for Georgina but very disappointed for Victoria, who was annoyed and frustrated. The driving instructor was surprised she hadn’t passed. Georgina felt sorry for her and was equally surprised - she thought Victoria was the better driver. My family and I gave Georgina cards and we had a family meal to celebrate. Her dad (we’re separated) held off giving Georgina a card until Victoria had also passed, and then he gave them one each and had a celebration meal. Georgina went out for her first solo drive to the hairdressers the day after she passed. Victoria and I followed behind in my car.

Second time lucky?

Victoria paid for five extra lessons then retook her test on 10 October and … failed. Which again surprised her instructor; he put it down to nerves. But the third time she passed, on 27 November, with a practically flawless test. We were really pleased for her.

V: I was glad I didn’t pass first time as I learnt more between my second and last test, and became more confident as a result.

G: I was pleased Victoria passed because it meant I didn’t have to drive as much - I don’t find driving enjoyable, although I love my car, Elsie!

Georgina lost confidence after writing off my car one year later - an animal ran in front of her. Victoria now works full-time and pays most of the car’s running costs as Georgina is off at dance school and only home at weekends. They organise all the servicing, insurance, and petrol budgeting themselves.

Overall, how was it for you?

Not too bad. The girls were empowered to be in charge of lesson booking themselves as they did it all through a website. The up-side was the freedom that driving gave us all as I had to do less running around and it gave them both more independence. The down-side was the cost, although it was good that the girls had to pay for it themselves.

V&G: Paying for it all ourselves made us appreciate how expensive it was - and the continuing running costs. It’s nice that we own our car and it’s not Mum’s!


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