NOT MADE IT TO 17 YET?
If you're not yet 17 you can start practising on private land, such as on a farm, but remember that places like supermarket car parks are classed as public roads.
The area must be gated and remote from all public highways. However, if the land is connected to any form of public highway, then, irrespective of its ownership, it is illegal under the Road Traffic Act for any under-age or unlicensed learner to drive there.
You can also get ahead by applying for your provisional licence three months before your 17th birthday. And if you're disabled and receiving mobility allowance, you can start at age 16.
CHECK YOUR EYES
There's a minimum standard for driving so it's worthwhile to check your eyesight. Make sure that you can read a car number plate from the minimum distance. If you need glasses or contact lenses you must wear them whenever you drive and, of course, when you take your test.
You must be able to read an old-style number plate in good daylight from a distance of 20.5 metres (67 feet). The distance for the new-style number plates introduced in September 2001 is 20 metres (66 feet).
GET YOUR 'L' PLATES
As a learner driver, you have to display 'L' plates in a highly visible place on the front and back of the vehicle you're driving. And until the day you pass the Practical Test you'll have to display these and drive with someone who has passed their test.
'L' plates have to conform to a legal specification, so make sure you buy them rather than making your own. Whenever the vehicle isn't driven by a learner, you should take off the plates or cover them.
KNOW YOUR SUBJECT
Essential titles, like The Highway Code, The Official DSA Guide to Driving - The Essential Skills and the Practical Test for Car Drivers are a great place to start. Also, starting to practise your driving theory and hazard perception on a PC or DVD could boost your skills and improve your chances of passing both the Theory and Practical Tests.
APPLY FOR YOUR LICENCE
You can apply for your provisional licence quickly and easily online or by completing the D1 application form available at most Post Offices. The current cost of a first provisional licence is £50.00. If you apply using the D1 form, you'll need to send documents with it to confirm your identity.
If you're ahead of the game, you can apply for your licence up to three months before your 17th birthday. But you'll have to wait until you're 17, and you've received and signed your provisional licence, before you can start driving and take your Theory Test.
There are various classifications of licence, which authorise what type and size of vehicle you are allowed to drive, and some of the vehicle types require additional accreditation or training.
In general, the minimum age for driving on British roads is 16 years for mopeds, 17 years for small vehicles and motorcycles, agricultural or forestry tractors, and 21 years for medium/large sized vehicles, minibuses and buses.
If you already have a full motorcycle licence and you got this before 1 February 2001, you'll still need to take the Practical Test, but you'll be exempt from the Car Theory Test.