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Learning to drive cars and motorbikes

Get started! Chose a topic from the list below:

Driving a car – how to get your licence
I’ve got my provisional license - what next?
If you can't get access to a car
Choosing a driving school
Theory test
I've passed my test! What now?
Riding motorbikes and scooters

How to get your driving licence

You have to be 17 before you can start learning to drive on public roads. But before you think about setting foot behind the driver's seat, you have to apply for your provisional licence.

You can do this at most Post Offices, or you can apply online at GOV.UK.

Driving without a provisional licence is a criminal offence. You can get fined, and you can be banned from driving even before you get your full licence!

The best thing to do before you turn 17 is read up on all the theory test information and The Highway Code.

I've got my provisional licence - what next?

Once you have received your provisional licence, you can start practising in a car.

If you are lucky enough to have access to your own car, or have persuaded your parents or relatives to let you use theirs, there are some things you must sort out before you get behind the wheel:

1. Ensure that the car has a registration document (V5) and an M.O.T. certificate (if the vehicle is three years old or more). Failing to do any of this can result in you being stopped by the police and fined.

2. Make sure that you have adequate insurance for the vehicle. It might be expensive but it is essential that you are insured. Driving without insurance is an offence and you can be fined and banned!

3. Get yourself a set of L Plates. These should be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.

4. You must have a driver accompanying you who is 21 years old or over. They must have held a full car licence for three years or more. Do bear in mind that the friend or relative sitting beside you is not a qualified instructor. They have no control over the vehicle, they are just sat next to you, and you could pick up bad habits from them which may be difficult to break. So choose your assistance carefully!

If you can't get access to a car:

If you don’t have access to a car then you may want to use a driving school or driving instructor.

There are many advantages to choosing a proper driving instructor:

  • you will be taught to drive safely and correctly as per national standard
  • you will learn to drive in the correct type of vehicle – one that is not too big or too powerful for you.
  • all driving school cars are fitted with dual controls, i.e. clutch and brake, which means the instructor can take control of the vehicle in an emergency – possibly avoiding a crash or bump.

Don't ever 'borrow' a friend or relative's car - no matter how keen you are to start driving, unless you have all the right insurances and permissions - you will end up in trouble and you can get banned before you even get your full licence.

Choosing a driving school

We can't recommend which driving instructor or driving school to use but would recommend that you choose an Engage registered driving instructor.

There are lots of qualified instructors operating in Wirral, ranging from £18-£24 per hour. All instructors should be fully qualified and must be DVSA approved. Ask your friends who they are learning with and if they recommend them, or have a look in the local papers.

When you have chosen your instructor, don't book a block of lessons to start with (no matter how tempting the offer!) as you may not get on with your instructor and you might want to change to someone else.

What do I need to learn for my theory test?

The theory test is very important and it makes sure you are aware of the rules of the road before you take your practical test. If you fail your theory, you can't take your practical until you have passed it. Find out more about the theory test.

You should start by having a read of the Highway Code and start to learn the rules of the road. You can start reading this even before you are 17 and before you have got your provisional - get a head start!

There are two parts to the theory test; multiple choice where you need 43 out of 50 to pass and Hazard Perception where you need 44 out of 75.

You really need to learn what all the road signs mean. The Highway Code's Website will help you learn which is which. Test your friends and family to see if you know more than them. The more you know, the better a driver you will be!

I've passed my test! What now?

Once you have passed your test, you will be very excited and want to go and pick up all of your friends and drive around to celebrate.

Remember that you have learned to drive with just your driving instructor in the car -you probably haven't had lots of people in the car, and you are probably still a bit unsure on certain things. Take your time. There's nothing worse than passing your test and then crashing your car straight away! How embarrassing would that be?! And worse still, you could really hurt or kill yourself or someone else.

So just take it easy, be a responsible driver.

Once you have passed your test, if you get six points on your licence within the first two years you will get your licence taken off you. You will be banned, and then you will have to start again as a learner, re-apply for your provisional and re-sit your theory and your practical tests.

Did you know you can get at least three points for:

  • using your mobile phone while driving
  • speeding
  • jumping a red light
  • not stopping for a lollipop lady / man
  • driving a vehicle with defective tyres

You will become a better driver with time and practice. It’s a great idea to do some advanced courses to improve the skills you’ve already got. And the best part is that once you have done an advanced course you can usually get a discount on your insurance!

You find info on advanced courses at Pass Plus, IAM or RoSPA

Want the 4 Wheel Ed Team to visit your school or college? Call 0151 606 2228.

Riding motorbikes and scooters

Motorcyclists and scooter riders are only about 1%-2% of the traffic on Wirral’s roads, but in 2015 they were 31% of all death & serious injuries in road crashes.

Riding a motorbike or scooter is great fun and gives a fantastic sense of freedom, but this also comes at a cost. Riders are much more vulnerable than other road users – not just in terms of the weather but also from the risk of being injured in a crash. Even minor spills at relatively low speeds can lead to significant injuries. Young riders often do not wear enough protective clothing, especially in warmer weather. T-shirts, shorts or even jeans are really not good enough to protect you.

Learning to ride

It’s a good idea to read and understand the Highway Code before you ride on the roads.

Before you can ride, you must complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course. The cost of doing a CBT or further training is dependent on the training provider you select. The CBT course is usually completed in one and two days – remember though that this is just the very basic level you need to legally ride on the road – it doesn’t mean that you are necessarily a good rider or that you will be safe.

In addition to your CBT training, there are lots of courses provided by a variety of independent trainers who all have a DSA (Driving Standards Agency) qualification.

Once you have passed your formal ‘full’ motorbike licence you should consider doing a police Bikesafe course or undertake an advanced riding qualification from the IAM or RoSPA.

Crash avoidance

As a rider you will quickly learn that other drivers don’t always realise you are on the road. But you can do quite a lot to improve your chances.

Be Bright – Be Seen doesn’t mean that you need to be lit up like a Christmas tree, but riding with black gear means that you are much less noticeable. Buy black clothing (it can help hide the road dirt you will inevitably be coated with) but wear a high-vis tabard or vest that is fairly cheap to replace. You can take that off when you park up and get off your bike – remember to wear it again when you ride off though!

Helmets

You must wear a helmet that meets the British Standard 6558:1985 or ECE Regulation 22.05 standard – check for a label on the shell or inside the helmet. Don’t forget you are putting your head inside it to protect you from a brain injury if you come off or someone crashes into you. You must also do up the chin strap when riding.

We recommend you get advice and your helmet from a reputable motorcycle dealer who will make sure it fits you correctly. More independent advice about helmets can be found here.

Never buy a second hand helmet – you can’t guarantee it hasn’t been damaged by someone. If you drop it or have a crash, you will probably need to replace it. A brightly coloured helmet can also help other drivers be more aware of you amongst other traffic. Make sure you look after your visor too, as they can get scratched easily which will then impair your ability to see other traffic – especially in bright sunlight or with oncoming car headlights creating glare.

Gloves

Your hands are usually the first thing you put out to save yourself if you fall. Just imagine the damage you are likely to do by putting an unprotected hand out at 20mph or 30mph. The rough road surface will quickly wear down skin to the bone, leaving you with long-term damage.

Boots

For similar reasons to wearing gloves, wearing over the ankle boots is also a smart idea. In crashes, riders' feet and ankles often get trapped between the bike and the ground. Bike engines are hot too, so there are often severe burns to riders’ feet and severe lacerations from being scraped on the ground unprotected.

Other gear

A good jacket and overtrousers are also important – not only will they keep riders dry and warm, they provide essential protection for your skin should you have a crash. It doesn’t matter what size bike you ride, biking in your ordinary clothes is a real risk for serious injury. Although leather has been the traditional choice for many riders, newer textile clothing has improved over the years and can offer excellent abrasion resistance as well as being waterproof. Make sure you buy clothing that has CE approved armour in the back shoulders & elbows. Visit a reputable local dealer and ask their advice too.

Riding responsibly

Not only should you ride responsibly to keep safe, you can get fined or have points added to your provisional licence if you don’t. The police can also issue Section 59 notices to you and / or your bike and have them seized if you ride in an anti-social manner.

According to the Department of Transport, the risk of being killed on a motorbike is 38 times that of being killed whilst driving or being a passenger in a car. The DfT website contains more helpful information for both riders and drivers on motorcycle road safety issues.

The council’s Road Safety Team has a small stock of handy booklets for riders called “First Bike” which is packed with information for new riders. Email us to request your copy. You can also phone the Council’s Road Safety Team on 606 2004 for more advice about motorcycle safety.