How old do you have to be before you can legally drive?

From an early age, many kids dream of being able to drive. And before you know it, they are setting off on their first driving lessons, pestering you for a few hours of three-point turn practice on weekends, and dropping massive hints about their favourite car on the garage forecourt.

But when can your child actually drive? Read on for more information.


Most children will only be interested in driving a car, and as a parent that might come as a bit of a relief, given how safe they are. Seventeen-year-olds are legally entitled to drive cars or light vans with or without trailers, once they have passed their test of course. A category B license means they can drive both manual and automatic vehicles of this type while an B auto license restricts them to automatics.

Young drivers, especially males, are considered the riskiest drivers on the road – and statistics would certainly back this up – so their insurance premiums will be highest. The best ways of getting them down is to seek specialist young driver insurance cover, look into extra qualifications like Pass Plus and get going on building up an impressive no claims bonus.

Motorbikes and scooters

There are some people who find motorcycles altogether more appealing that cars, and their outlook is understandable. They are small enough to deal with inner-city traffic problems, powerful enough to make the most of country roads and cost much less than cars. As with cars, 17 is the age at which point your child can legally ride a motorbike with the A1 license restricting them to light bikes and the A license allowing them to handle bigger bikes and those with sidecars. Mopeds with engines up to 50cc can be ridden by 16-year-olds.

As with car-insurance, young riders are considered the riskiest propositions by motorcycle insurance companies. The best way round high premiums is to look at advanced courses and build up a no claims bonus. Through brokers like Swinton cheap scooter insurance is more readily available.

Disabled drivers

For disabled drivers, the ability to drive is even more important than for teenagers. While the average 17-year-old might be more bothered by driving school friends around, for disabled people a car can be essential for preserving their freedom and quality of life. To reflect this, 16-year-olds who qualify for the higher rate Disability Living Allowance are allowed to drive, once they have passed their test of course.

Larger vehicles

There are number of larger vehicles, including articulated lorries, buses, minibuses and steam rollers, where the legal minimum driving age is 21 (though there are exceptions), while your child will need to be 18 before they can drive a mid-sized van. The largest vehicle a 17-year-old will likely find themselves in charge of is an agricultural tractor. In fact, tractors that are less then 2.45 metres wide can be driven by 16-year-olds, meaning they might need a lift to work before setting about driving something that will dwarf your car.

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