Learning to drive is an important rite of passage whenever you do it in life. In the UK you can take your test at the age of 17. There have been rumours about the age being raised to 18 for as long as I can remember but they have always been groundless.
First of all you have to get your provisional licence. You can get the forms from the Post Office or you can download one or do it online here. You can apply for your provisional licence up to 3 months before your 17th birthday but it will not become valid until you are 17. You cannot take your theory test until your 17th birthday and you cannot book your practical test until you have passed your theory test. There is nothing stopping you learning to drive before you pass your theory. Some instructors think that it is easier to pass your theory before learning in case it takes you a while to pass and you don't want to be ready to take your practical test, while still waiting to pass your theory. Others think that, since you only have 2 years after passing your theory to pass your practical, it is better to see how you get on with the driving first. There are no hard and fast rules.
Once your provisional licence is valid, you can go out on the road with a driving instructor (ADI - Approved Driving Instructor) or any other person who has held a licence for at least 3 years and is 21 or over. And that's when it starts getting interesting!
I will write about choosing driving instructors and what you can expect on lessons and tests in another post.