Your guide to learning to drive in East London
How to choose a driving instructor in East London
The right instructor is a critical element of a smooth and enjoyable learning to drive journey. You want a local instructor who:
- Encourages you
- Makes it an enyjoyable experience
- Won’t cost earth!
That’s why it’s important to do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Check what other learners in East London are saying about local schools and driving instructors to see if they enjoyed their experience. This will help you make an informed choice and ensure you choose the right instructor for you.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
There are instructors in East London that will restrict your learning in various ways. Some will make you to take all your driving lessons within a 6-month period before your credits become invalid, for example. So don’t get caught out - check the T&Cs of lessons and any offers.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
Make sure you can switch instructors at no cost in East London. You may not fully click with your first one, or you may need to move your lessons to be picked up in a different area because of a job or university. Whatever the reason you want the option to change instructors, free of charge.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Many driving schools in East London won’t reveal their waiting times until after you have made a booking request. Make sure that you don’t commit to lessons with a particular instructor until you know how quickly you can get started.
Choosing between manual and automatic
The first step towards learning to drive is deciding whether you would like manual or automatic driving lessons.
Automatic cars are easier to drive in heavy traffic, so you might prefer them in East London, particularly if you’re going to be travelling in rush hour. According to TomTom’s data, Londoners spend 64% more time travelling during morning peak times than they would in free-flowing traffic!
On the other hand, if you see yourself taking to the A1 or M40 regularly to escape the city, you might prefer the sense of control that a manual car could give you.
If you think you’re likely to hire a car regularly, a manual licence might give you more flexibility. Unlike an automatic licence, it will allow you to drive both manual and automatic cars, giving you more vehicles to choose from and access to the lowest prices. Many Londoners don’t own a car - according to TFL, there’s an average of just 0.3 cars per adult in the capital. So you may well rely on hiring a car once you’ve passed your test.
There are pros and cons to both manual and automatic cars, so take your time to decide between the two!
Tips for learning to drive in East London
If you want to pass your driving test faster (and save money in the process!) you’ll want to put in some driving practice between lessons with a friend or family member. According to the DVSA, you should ideally put in 22 hours of private practice before attempting the test.
Here are some of our favourite places to practise in East London.
North Crescent Business Centre: An industrial area in Canning Town, this is a good choice if you’re brand new to the driver’s seat and are looking for somewhere quiet to get to grips with life in the driver’s seat. Head here on a Sunday and you should have it pretty much to yourself!
Forest Gate: Just round the corner from Forest Gate train station is a residential area perfect for getting your head around roundabouts for the first time. Richmond Road, Balmoral Road and the roads linking the two are peaceful suburban streets with a variety of straightforward roundabouts and mini-roundabouts to practise on.
Arbour Square Gardens: This residential part of Stepney is generally quiet with a mix of wide and narrow streets. It’s the ideal place to get the hand of moving off, stopping and signalling. When you’re ready, you can also head back here to perfect manoeuvres such as pulling up on the right and reversing two car lengths.
Royal Albert Way: If you’re looking for somewhere to get to grips with dual carriageway driving, you can’t do much better than Royal Albert Way, also known as the A1020. Not only is it surprisingly quiet considering its location, but it also leads onto a string of fairly straightforward roundabouts.
Water Lane: This urban road just a stone’s throw from Stratford is our top choice if you’re looking to get familiar with the ins and outs of inner-city driving. It’s got a huge array of road markings, traffic lights and various types of junction while still being relatively quiet.
Tollgate Road: If you want some extra practice on roundabouts, head to Tollgate Road. We suggest starting at the mini-roundabout where it hits Stansfeld Road and heading east - that way you’ll cross another four roundabouts and one mini-roundabout before ending on the larger ASDA roundabout.
Blackwall Roundabout Just a minute’s walk from Blackwall DLR Station, you’ll find this challenging multi-lane roundabout. You can reach it from Cotton Street or, if you’re after some more dual carriageway practice, from Aspen Way. Either way, it’s set to give you valuable practice in lane placement on large roundabouts.
Hermon Hill If you’re looking for some experience on a busy city road, this is the street for you. Your biggest challenge will be lack of space when overtaking parked cars - there are often cars parked here despite the yellow lines! It’s located near Wanstead Test Centre, so could come up in your driving test too.
Liverpool Street If you’re feeling particularly confident, you could head right into the city centre and have a drive around the Liverpool Street area. It’ll be very busy and you’ll have a few one-way streets to contend with. Just remember that this is in the Congestion Charge zone, so depending on the time of day you might need to pay.
Choosing your test centre
Your instructor will help you to pick a test centre location and then make sure that you’re practising on routes that are likely to come up in your practical driving test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Barking Test Centre (Tanner Street) | Pass rate: 34.3%
A test from this centre is likely to include busy junctions and multi-lane roundabouts. There’s no car park available, so it would be worth arriving early to make sure you can park nearby.
Address: 84 Tanner Street, Barking, Essex, Greater London, IG11 8QF
Barking Test Centre (Town Quay)| Pass rate: 37.1%
This is a temporary test centre that was created due to the high demand for driving tests in East London. It’s just a stone’s throw from Barking (Tanner Street) Test Centre, but with a slightly better pass rate!
Address: Unit 9, Town Quay Wharf, Barking, Essex, Greater London, IG11 7BZ
Chingford Test Centre | Pass rate: 35.4%
Chingford Test Centre is surrounded by both busy city roads and winding rural roads, so you can expect a bit of both on a test from here. There is a small car park available, but it’s best to get there early to make sure you get a space.
Address: Doric House, 128 Station Road, Chingford, Greater London, E4 6AD
Goodmayes Test Centre | Pass rate: 38.5%
On Goodmayes Road, you’ll find both Goodmayes Test Centre and a number of box junctions, so make sure you brush up on your box junctions before test day. It’s a busy road, so you’ll need to be skilled at driving in heavy traffic.
Address: 98 Goodmayes Road, Ilford, Greater London, IG3 9UZ
Wanstead Test Centre | Pass rate: 35.6%
You’ll need to be confident with your passing distances if you choose Wanstead Test Centre, as it’s surrounded by narrow residential roads. You’ll also find busy urban roads nearby, so make sure you’ve practised driving in traffic.
Address: 2 Devon House, Hermon Hill, Wanstead, Greater London, E11 2AW
To find your nearest test centre, you can enter your postcode on the DVSA’s website.
Test tips from East London instructors
1. Leave yourself time to park
Many of the East London test centres have a very small car park or no car park at all. A local instuctor warns that at Wanstead Test Centre “camera cars have been known to issue tickets by post for cars parked for driving tests”. Arrive early to make sure you don’t have problems!
2. Watch out for roundabouts
A common reason for failing the driving test in East London is “incorrect procedures for changing lanes on roundabouts”, according to instructors in the area. At Barking (Town Quay) Test Centre, you’re likely to face two major roundabouts just a few minutes into your test. So, keep your wits about you and remember your training!
3. Stay calm in heavy traffic
You’ll have lots of traffic to contend with whichever of the East London test centres you choose. If you’re taking your test at Goodmayes, take note that the test centre location itself is very busy. A local instructor warns, “be careful of the local residents, as they live on the very same road that you’ll start your test on”.
4. Pay attention to your clutch control
Although candidates at Chingford Test Centre tend to have less traffic to deal with, an expert instructor based in this area warns that “it’s quite hilly so you should focus on good clutch control during your practice.” Providing you’ve put the practice in, all you need to do on test day is stay calm and remember what you’ve learned.
5. Remember your passing distances
There are many narrow roads with parked cars on both sides in East London. An East London instructor tell us that “inadequate clearance of parked cars” and “failure to deal with oncoming drivers” are “common mistakes that candidates make in East London”. Be particularly careful on the narrow road right by Wanstead Test Centre.