Your guide to learning to drive in Bristol
How to choose a driving school in Bristol
When it comes to driving schools Bristol is a good place to learn. You just need to make sure you find a driving instructor in Bristol who:
- Makes you feel supported
- Makes it enjoyable to learn
- Doesn't rip you off!
So it’s important to do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Most driving schools in Bristol carefully select which reviews to show on their website. Head to an objective review site to get a clearer picture.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Make sure to look at the driving school’s terms and conditions to know what you’re signing up for. Some driving schools in Bristol won’t refund any unused hours left at the end of a lesson package. If you want a more flexible lesson package, make sure the school clearly offers that in its terms.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
If you want to swap driving instructors while you’re learning, you should check the school’s switching policies. Some driving schools in Bristol may not let you swap instructors, especially if you’ve bought a block package. So, find a school that can let you readily swap if you need to.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Most driving schools in Bristol don’t openly publish their waiting times. You won't learn about them until you have booked and are in the process of scheduling in your first lesson. So make sure to inquire into the availability of their driving lessons in Bristol.
Choosing between manual and automatic
You’ll need to choose between manual and automatic driving lessons before you start.
Automatics don’t have a clutch pedal, just one for accelerating and one for braking. So if you anticipate being stuck in traffic regularly, an automatic will be easier, since you won’t have to worry about pressing and depressing the clutch each time you come to a standstill. This could be useful as Bristol is one of the worst places in the UK for traffic, according to ITV.
Automatics are easier for driving up Bristol’s hills as you won’t have to worry about stalling when you're doing a hill start. However, in a manual, you're able to jump down a gear in anticipation of a hill, for that extra bit of acceleration.
Keep in mind a manual licence lets you drive both manual and automatic cars once you pass your test, whereas an automatic licence only lets you drive automatic cars.
Manuals are also cheaper to buy and maintain in comparison to automatics, so take that into consideration if you’re watching your pennies.
Finally, certain driving schools in Bristol may not offer automatic lessons. Be sure you check!
Bear in mind that Bristol driving lesson prices can vary depending on where in the city you’re based, so this should be used as a guide only.
Choosing your test centre
Once you have enough driving lessons in Bristol under your belt, your instructor will help you choose your test centre. Then, you'll learn the routes that may come up on your practical driving test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Avonmouth Test Centre | Pass rate: 52.6%
You’ll find Avonmouth Driving Test Centre in the very middle of Merebank Road. Our driving instructors in Bristol say to expect to drive on multi-lane roundabouts and dual carriageways if you take your test here.
Address: Unit M6, Cabot Park, Merebank Road, Avonmouth, City of Bristol, BS11 8AQ
Brislington Test Centre | Pass rate: 42.6%
Brislington Test Centre is right next to a business park so this could make the roads busy at certain hours. After leaving Flowers Hill, road systems you could encounter include roundabouts, crossroads and box junctions.
Address: Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bath Road, Brislington, Bristol, City of Bristol, BS4 5JX
Kingswood Test Centre | Pass rate: 48.8%
Kingswood Test Centre’s pass rate is only just above the country’s average. You will find it along the A20 right next to Church Road.
Address: The Siston Centre, Station Road, Kingswood, Bristol, Gloucestershire, BS15 4GQ
Check out the DVSA page to find your nearest Driving Test Centre.
Test tips from driving instructors in Bristol
Local driving instructors in Bristol drop some knowledge.
1. Keep calm in busy traffic
If you encounter Bristol’s heavy traffic during your test, it’s important to keep calm and not let nerves take over. A local driving instructor in Bristol says "Your examiner will know how busy Bristol can get so don’t panic if you have to wait at junctions and roundabouts".
2. Bring everything you need
Take your provisional driver’s licence and your theory test pass certificate with you for the test. This is very important as you will not be able to take your practical test without them.
3. Avoid Saturday Mornings
Bristol is known for its Saturday morning rush which causes the main roads to become very busy. It’d be wise to book your test outside this time so you don’t face the stresses of congestion.
4. Take a driving lesson beforehand
You could arrange one last driving lesson before your practical if you’re nervous about taking the test. This will boost your confidence and you can use the time to go over any roads or routes you suspect will come up on the test.
5. Drive defensively
It’s particularly important to look out for hazards and other drivers if you drive towards the city centre, as the traffic here can get very compacted. Make sure to check your blind spots and keep a safe separation distance from the vehicles in front of you.
Driving lessons in Bristol
Some of the most popular areas to learn to drive in Bristol include:
City Centre, Clifton, Montpellier, St Andrew’s, St Jude’s, St Paul’s, St Werburgh’s, Temple Meads, Totterdown and Leigh Woods.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area.