Advancing through your teens brings with it all sorts of exciting privileges that are unlocked with each birthday. Some of them, such as being allowed to see a 15-rated film, are fairly small. Others, such as the right to vote, represent much bigger milestones. The right you gain in turning 17, namely learning to drive, is certainly up there as one of the bigger ones. This is partly because it’s a skill you’ll use throughout your life. But, more importantly, being able to drive + access to a car = freedom!

However, reaching the age of 17 doesn’t just mean that you’re free to immediately hit the open road. Learning to drive takes months of effort and many hours of time. And you’ll also need to have access to a car to make use of your driving lessons and your license. In spite of these obstacles, many young people feel that it’s essential to start driving lessons as soon as they hit 17. However, it may be worth reassessing this unquestioning view of learning to drive.

We are of course not saying that it’s not worth learning to drive as soon as possible. It’s worth keeping in mind, though that the 17-18 period of your life is quite a pressured one, mainly because there’s the small matter of completing your secondary education. This is obviously something that will have a big impact on your long-term future. On top of that, it could also be that unless you have plenty of access to a car at 17 you may not be able to make full use of this difficult skill.

When weighing up the pros and cons of learning to drive when you turn 17, then, it’s worth thinking about these two questions:

Do I have time to do this with my other study/work/volunteering commitments?

Take the time to assess what other commitments you have at this time in your life. On top of your studies, you may also have a part-time job, and perhaps volunteering duties or extracurricular activities that you’re doing to help prepare you for university or your career plans. These things can all eat into your time, but they all have a clear part to play in preparing you for adult life. If it seems that right now learning to drive would stretch you beyond your limits, then it makes much more sense to wait until a less busy time such as the summer holidays before you turn your attentions to it.


Will I be able to make use of this skill, or will I just forget it?

Being able to drive is a skill that you will quite likely use throughout your life. However, it may not be until you are well into your twenties that you’ll have regular access to a car. It’s definitely not uncommon for people to successfully get their license before they turn 18, only to find that after that it’s several years before they get to put this skill into practice. And while there are elements of learning to drive being like riding a bike, if you go several years without driving after you pass your test you’ll probably find the challenge of getting back behind the wheel very difficult. In fact, you may even find yourself feeling the need to take remedial driving lessons.

If this is the case, perhaps it’d be better to wait until you’re closer to needing to use the skill regularly before you start learning. If you’re planning to do a job where you’ll be driving from as soon as you leave school, or if you’ll have access to a car, that time is quite likely now. But if not, perhaps it’d be better to wait before you start learning to drive.

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