- How to choose a driving instructor in Birmingham
- Choosing between manual and automatic driving lessons
- Tips for learning to drive in Birmingham
- Choosing your test centre
- Test tips from driving instructors in Birmingham
How to choose a driving instructor in Birmingham
Whether you want manual or automatic driving lessons, you shouldn't have much trouble finding a driving instructor in Birmingham. However it's important to choose the right instuctor, one who :
- Supports you in your learning
- Makes it fun to learn
- Won’t charge you a fortune!
All you need to do is these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Reading about other learners' experiences with instructors is a great way to find to if they will be a good fit for you.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
There are driving schools in Birmingham that offer seemingly brilliant introductory deals but then restrict the use of those cheap hours to specific parts of your training, i.e. the last 2 before test. They could have much higher prices outside of this deal as well as other hidden conditions. Always read the terms and conditions on any special offer or discounted bundle.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
It’s always preferable to learn with just one instructor, but if you’re not enjoying your lessons you might want to switch. Watch out for schools that will charge you or wont allow you to change.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Some driving 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.
Choosing between manual and automatic driving lessons
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 driving lessons in Birmingham tend to cost more than 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. Some smaller driving schools in Birmingham not not offer automatic driving lessons at all times.
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.
Tips for learning to drive in Birmingham
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.
As described by our driving instructors Birmingham is a great place to practice. 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. You’ll likely graduate from this location quicker if you’re taking automatic driving lessons.
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.
Choosing your test centre
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.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Cocks Moors Woods Test Centre | Pass rate: 38.50%
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
Garretts Green Test Centre | Pass rate: 40.1%
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
Kings Heath Test Centre | Pass rate: 41.9%
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
Kingstanding Test Centre | Pass rate: 36.9%
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 Test Centre | Pass rate: 44.9%
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
South Yardley Test Centre | Pass rate: 44.9%
Set in the midst of a quiet, residential area to the east of Birmingham, South Yardley has one of the better pass rates in the city. Our driving instructors in Birmingham recommend this test centre.
Address: Clay Lane, South Yardley, West Midlands, B26 1EA
Sutton Coldfield Test Centre | Pass rate: 40.3%
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 | Pass rate: 30.2%
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
You can also search the DVSA to find the nearest test centre to your postcode.
Test tips from driving instructors in Birmingham
Local driving instructors in Birmingham give you some hard and fast rules.
1. Don’t forget your observations
A local instructor in Birmingham, says: “Some learner drivers taking their test at Kings Heath or Cocks Moors Woods forget to 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.”
2. Check out the parking situation
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.
3. Take your time on roundabouts
One of the common mistakes that learner drivers make during their driving tests in Birmingham is confusion at roundabouts, particularly large ones wilth multiple lanes, like the major roundabout at the Hollywood bypass. A local Instructor advises: “Don’t panic! Take your time to reduce your speed, and read the road markings and signs, to help guide you across.”
4. Take a driving lesson beforehand
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.
5. Drive defensively
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.
Driving lessons in Birmingham
Driving instructors in Birmingham cover these popular areas:
Blackheath, Halesowen, Longbridge, Saltley, Selly Oak, Solihull, Sparkhill, Stetchford, West Bromwich and Yardley.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area.