We know the feeling. You want a driving instructor who:
That’s why it’s important to do these 5 things:
Reading about other Birmingham learners' experiences with each driving school is a great way to find out what other learners have to say about them. Reliable review sites include Trustpilot, Driving School Reviews or Google reviews.
In Birmingham, there are schools that offer seemingly brilliant introductory deals but that restrict the use of your discounted hours to specific parts of the learning to drive process. They have much higher prices outside of this deal.
Some driving schools in Birmingham work with Potential Driving Instructors (instructors who are still in training) and you may get matched with one without being informed. If you want an experienced instructor, make sure you go for an Approved Driving Instructors (fully qualified).
It’s always preferable to learn with just one instructor, but if you’re not enjoying your lessons you might want to switch. While there are schools in Birmingham that will allow you to switch instructors, in some you can only switch after your first lesson. If you learn with Midrive, you’ll be able to switch instructors at any time, at no cost.
Some schools in Birmingham have wait times of 4 weeks or longer during busy periods, and often you won’t find out what the wait time is until you have made a booking enquiry. Midrive learners get matched with an instructor within 24 hours and on the road within 7 days.
Before you start learning to drive, you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to take manual or automatic driving lessons.
Automatic cars are easier to drive in heavy traffic. Birmingham comes third in Sky’s ranking of England’s worst cities for traffic jams, so you might find an automatic car more pleasant if you’re going to travel through the city centre regularly.
On the other hand, manual cars give you a greater sense of control. You might prefer this over long distances, particularly on the A roads and motorways surrounding Birmingham.
Automatic lessons tend to cost than more manual lessons on an hourly basis. However, you could learn faster in an automatic so you might end up spending less in the long run.
Most importantly, a manual licence qualifies you to drive both types of car whereas an automatic licence only qualifies you to drive automatics. It’s important to choose carefully between the two.
It’s best to supplement your lessons with some driving practice in a friend or family member’s car. In fact, the DVSA recommends 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
Birmingham is a great place to practise. Here are a few options.
Tyseley Industrial Estate: If you’re based near Tyseley or Sparkhill, this is a great place to get to grips with the basics of steering and clutch control, or to practise your bay parking. Head here on a Sunday to get the most out of the area when the roads and parking spaces will be quieter.
Acocks Green: If you’re looking to perfect manoeuvres such as reversing, you can’t do much better than this quiet residential area. Our top streets for a spot of practice here are Tyseley Lane, Sunningdale Road and Holcombe Road.
Grange Road: Located near Kings Heath Park, this is a nice, wide road with a few cars parked on either side. With a range of quiet streets connected to it, we love this spot for a bit of practice on junctions or to perfect that parallel parking.
College Road Roundabout in Acocks Green: This roundabout is perfect for those with a little more driving experience. It’s fairly small but is busier than a mini roundabout, with five roads leading off it. There are zebra crossings near some of the exits, so keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians!
Busier residential areas near Acocks Green: Once you’re confident driving on quiet residential streets, it’s time to step it up a notch and try driving on a busier, narrower one with parked cars on either side. Great areas for this type of driving practice are Hillfield Road, Thornhill Road and Clarence Road.
The A41 roundabout: If you’re looking to up your confidence on urban roads, this B road in Cheetham Hill will do the trick. With plenty of traffic lights and junctions, it’s a good place to get used to a range of road systems.
The junction from Stratford Road to College Road: This junction leading onto the one-way system on College Road is a tricky one. There’s a sharp speed limit change down to 20 mph, with a pelican crossing very soon after the left-hand turn. Don’t let this catch you out!
Bridle Lane: It’s essential to have some experience driving on country roads, but depending on where in Birmingham you’re based it might take a little while to get out of the city. Our top choice is Bridle Lane near Beacon Road. You can get there from Pheasey, Queslett and even Kingstanding if you’re up for a longer drive.
City Centre: If you’ve done most of your practice in the suburbs, it will be a good idea to try driving in the city for a different experience. Areas such as China Quarter and the B4100 which goes through the shopping district will be ideal places to practise.
Once you’ve chosen your driving test centre, your instructor will introduce you to the routes that are likely to come up in your driving test.
Cocks Moors Wood is a temporary test centre that was created to bring down waiting times in Birmingham. Located in Cocks Moors Wood Leisure Centre just off the A435, you’re likely to encounter a mix of urban and suburban roads on a test here.
Address: Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre, The Lodge, S. King’s Heath, Birmingham, B14 6ER
Located in South Yardley, Garretts Green is a large test centre that sits opposite Gilbertstone Primary School. So, depending on the time of day, you may have to negotiate the school rush!
Address: Granby Avenue, Garretts Green, Birmingham, West Midlands, B33 0TJ
Just a stone’s throw from Cocks Moors Wood Test Centre, Kings Heath Test Centre is very near the A435 dual carriageway and the Sainsbury’s roundabout - so you’ll want to be confident with these road systems!
Address: 955 Alcester Road South, Birmingham, West Midlands, B14 5JA
The Kingstanding test centre is surrounded by quiet residential streets, but there are two roundabouts just down the road. So, be prepared to encounter roundabouts from the very beginning of a test here.
Address: 205 Birdbrook Road, Birmingham, B44 9UL
Shirley is another Birmingham test centre that's likely to feature roundabouts heavily. It's also located off a busy main road and around the corner from a box junction, so take particular care on your way in and out of the centre.
Address: 401 Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull, B90 4AA
Set in the midst of a quiet, residential area to the east of Birmingham, South Yardley has one of the better pass rates in Birmingham.
Address: Clay Lane, South Yardley, West Midlands, B26 1EA
Between Boldmere and Wylde Green to the north of Birmingham, you'll find Sutton Coldfield Test Centre. You're likely to encounter quiet residential streets and some busier A roads on a test from this location.
Address: 110-116 Boldmere Rd, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 5UB
The Pavilion Test Centre is located in a sports ground near Witton, in amongst a quiet residential area. The pass rate here was a long way below the 46.3% national average for 2017-18.
Address: The Pavilion, Moor Lane Sports Ground Uce, Moor Lane, West Midlands, B6 7AA
The pass rates shown are for the year 2017-18. You can also search the DVSA to find the nearest test centre to your postcode.
Pornsuree, a Midrive instructor based in Birmingham, says: “Some learner drivers taking their test at Kings Heath or Cocks Moors Woods forget follow the correct observation routine when changing lanes. Look in your mirrors and especially in your blind spots before pulling into another lane of traffic.”
Some of the test centres in Birmingham don't have their own car parks, and as such, it can be difficult to find a space to park. On the other hand, Cocks Moors Woods Test Centre is located on the site of a major leisure centre, which means the car park and surrounding area can get quite busy. Do your research beforehand and leave yourself extra time if needed.
One of the common mistakes that learner drivers make during their driving tests in Birmingham is confusion at roundabouts, particularly large ones will multiple lanes, like the major roundabout at the Hollywood bypass. Instructor Pornuree advises: “Don’t panic! Take your time to reduce your speed, and read the road markings and signs, to help guide you across.”
Taking a driving lesson just before your driving test is always wise. It's especially useful in a big city like Birmingham, as your test centre may be a little way outside of your local area. That extra bit of experience on the roads around your test centre will give you that much-needed boost of confidence.
Birmingham is known for its heavy traffic (and being the second most populated city in the UK, that's not surprising!). However, it does mean that you'll have to anticipate other drivers' behaviour even more, to stay safe on the road.
Midrive learners pass 17 hours faster than the UK average, which means they could save up to 35% on the cost of driving lessons. That’s all thanks to our top-rated instructors, and the progress tracking, tips and articles that you get with the Midrive Learner app.
And that’s not all. Midrive learners also benefit from:
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