Your guide to learning to drive in West London
How to choose a driving school in West London
You need an instructor who:
- Supports you in your learning
- Makes it fun to learn
Won’t cost the earth!
That's why you should do these 5 things:
1. Compare reviews
No driving school is going to put their worst reviews on their website. Take a look at objective review sites like Driving School Reviews or Trustpilot to get a full picture of what other learners in West London experienced.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some schools in West London state in their terms and conditions that your lesson credits are only valid for 6 months. So if you need to pause your learning for whatever reason, you will have spent money on lessons that you can't take. Be sure to check a driving school’s terms and conditions before you book.
3. Make sure your instructor is qualified
Some schools in West London employ instructors who are currently in training (Potential Driving Instructors). These lessons might be cheaper but lesson quality won’t be as high as it would be with a fully qualified instructor (Approved Driving Instructor). So make sure to request to learn with a fully qualified instructor.
4. Check that you can switch instructors
You might want to swap driving instructors if you believe you’d learn better with another one. Not every school in West London provides this option, and if you’ve block booked with an independent instructor you could be stuck taking lessons with them. So make sure whichever driving school you pick will let you swap instructors, ideally without having to pay a fee.
5. Avoid long waiting times
Some schools in West London won’t show their waiting times until you’ve already booked your lessons. Make sure to find out how long you'd have to wait for your first lesson before you book. This will stop you from waiting longer than you need to.
Choosing between manual and automatic
You’ll need to decide whether you want manual or automatic lessons before you book your first lesson.
It is easier to drive an automatic car in heavy traffic because you won’t have to worry about changing gears every time you come to a standstill. This would be useful in West London as the city has the seventh worst gridlock in the world, according to The Sunday Times Driving.
However, remember that an automatic driving licence means you can only drive an automatic car, whereas a manual licence will qualify you to drive both manuals and automatics.
Manual cars can give you a greater feeling of control. They’re also cheaper to buy and repair, so keep that in mind if you want to save some money.
Tips for learning to drive in West London
According to the DVSA, you should have 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
If you drive towards Central London, try to avoid the Congestion Charge zone so you don't have to pay. Here are some suggestions for places where you can practise outside of the Congestion Charge zone in West London.
Shirland Road, Maida Hill: Shirland Road is a wide, quiet road that’s perfect for beginners driving in West London. Running through Maida Hill, there’s a chance to have a go at the crossroads where the road intersects Sutherland Avenue.
Chambers Lane, Willesden Green: This residential area in Willesden Green is quiet with plenty of space to learn how to park and drive past other road users comfortably. And if it’s crossroads practice you’re after, head around the corner to where Dobree Avenue meets Bryan Avenue.
Notting Hill: Notting Hill’s wide and quiet residential streets have lots of areas for practising your parking manoeuvres and of course, hill starts. Kensington Park Gardens, Elgin Crescent, Clarendon Road and Linden Gardens are great places to explore if you’re new to the road.
Cricklewood: The residential roads in this area tend to be narrow and lined with parked cars on either side, so head here to practise meeting oncoming traffic in a tight space. This is also a great place to nail that parallel parking. Head straight to Olive Road, Dawson Road, Cedar Road or Howard Road if you’re after a challenge.
Warwick Avenue: With a mini roundabout and a large intersection where Warwick Avenue meets Clifton Gardens and Warrington Crescent, this is a popular destination with our driving instructors. The road will merge into single lane traffic at the Bloomfield Road crossroads, so beware and watch your speed. You can also have a go at the junction further down that connects Warwick Avenue, Harrow Road and Howley Place.
- Westway Roundabout: This roundabout connects the A40 Westway dual carriageway to the A3220 and is well known for its heavy traffic during rush hour. If you live in or around White City or Shepherd's Bush, you’re likely to come across this roundabout on a regular basis once you’ve passed your test.
Choosing your test centre
Your instructor will help you practise the routes that are likely to come up in your driving test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Hendon Test Centre | Pass rate: 42.1%
Hendon Test Centre has a pass rate below the UK national average. Be prepared for roundabouts on roads like Aerodrome Road and Haley Road, as they’re likely to come up on the test route.
Address: 3 Aviation Drive, Beaufort Park, Hendon, Greater London, NW9 5TZ
Isleworth Test Centre | Pass rate: 42.2%
If you’re near Isleworth, Richmond or Hounslow, then Isleworth Test Centre is a good choice. Main roads like the A315 and A316 as well as a number of mini-roundabouts can come up if you take your test here.
Address: Unit 8, The Wireless Factory, Fleming Way, Isleworth, TW7 6DB
Southall Test Centre | Pass rate: 39.6%
The pass rate at Southall Test Centre is nearly 10% below the national average pass rate. If you take your test here, you’re likely to come across many narrow, terraced streets, with lots of parked cars. So be sure to practise on streets like these during your lessons.
Address: 295 Allenby Road, Southall, Greater London, UB1 2HD
Check out the DVSA page to find your nearest Driving Test Centre.
Test tips from West London instructors
1. Be careful on roundabouts
If you’re taking your test at Isleworth Test Centre, the nearby mini roundabout on Worton Road has a tendency to trip learner drivers up. Musa, one of our local driving instructors, offers this advice: “Watch your speed as you approach this mini roundabout as many learners have received faults for having to rush to reduce their speed and change gears, or for hesitating about which way they need to go.”
2. Watch your speed
Isleworth Test Centre examiners have often asked learners to drive down the unnamed road opposite the roundabout at the top of Rugby Road and Mogden Lane. Musa says: “Don’t drive at 30 mph on this road. The speed bumps are there to slow traffic down and if you drive at the full speed limit you could fail your test. Some learners have even failed their test for driving at 25 mph, so make sure you stick to 20 mph at all times.”
3. Remain observant
A common mistake for learners taking their test at Hendon Test Centre is failing to observe adequately. Midrive instructor Shapour advises, “Remember to check your side mirrors during your test, especially when changing lanes in busy traffic.”
4. Drive defensively
London drivers have been ranked as the second worst for speeding in the UK, according to MyLondon. That means it's particularly important to drive defensively. Try to anticipate the behaviour of other drivers, and adapt your own driving accordingly.
5. Stay focussed at the end
While it’s tempting to think the hard part is over as you near the end of the test, keep sharp so you don’t make any final mistakes. For Isleworth Test Centre, Musa’s advice for the final stretch of the test routes is that “the test centre is gated and it’s also situated inside a busy business park. Look out for the give way line right by the gate, and remember that you will have to come to a complete stop because there can be a lot of traffic on this road.”
6. Book a driving lesson beforehand
To build your confidence, consider having a driving lesson right before your test. If you suspect any particular roads will come up on the test that you might struggle on, it’d be wise to go over those areas in this lesson.
What if you could pass in 17 fewer hours?
At Midrive, we only work with fully qualified instructors who have been rated at least 4 out of 5 by other learners. That's part of the reason that Midrive learners are 38% more likely to pass the first time, and in 17 fewer hours than the UK average.
Here are more reasons to learn with Midrive:
- Get matched with a top-rated instructor in 24 hours
- Availability within the week
- Instructor rematch at any time
- Enjoy a refund on unused hours
What learners say about our driving lessons in West London
We’ve helped over 300,000 learners to pass their driving test. Imagine how many are in West London! Why not take a look at some of the lovely things they've said about us?