Your guide to learning to drive in Edinburgh
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How to choose a driving instructor in Edinburgh
Everyone deserves an instructor who:
- Boosts your confidence
- Makes it fun to learn
- Won’t cost the earth
That’s why there are 4 things to do before choosing a school:
1. Compare reviews
There are plenty of reliable websites that provide reviews for driving schools in Edinburgh. Cross-reference reviews with word of mouth to make an informed decision.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some schools in Edinburgh offer attractive block booking discounts, but with various restrictions on usage. Read the T&C's before you hand over your hard earnt cash.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
In the ideal case, you will pass your test in Edinburgh using only one driving instructor, but sometimes that’s not the case. If you want to swap driving instructors, for any reason, make sure you're learning with a school or instructor that can facilitate that. Some schools in Edinburgh will just refund you instead, meaning you’ll have to join a waiting list for a new instructor and won’t be able to continue your learning immediately.
4. Avoid long waiting times
A lot of Edinburgh’s independent instructors don’t publish their waiting times anywhere. That’s because in some cases you could be waiting up to a month for your first lesson while an instructor clears their diary. If you want to get on the road swiftly, larger schools are a help as they have a greater supply of instructors.
Choosing between manual and automatic
Before taking driving lessons you need to pick between manual and automatic lessons.
A manual licence will let you drive manual and automatic cars, whereas an automatic licence restricts you to automatics. Manual lessons are cheaper, but an automatic can be easier to learn in, so you could end up passing quicker and saving money that way.
There are plenty of hills around Edinburgh, which can make for some scenic drives - check out VisitScotland. If you find hill starts a struggle, you might prefer an automatic to give you a leg up. You won’t have to worry about gear changes as the car will do the work for you!
The same can be said about the heavy traffic you can encounter in Edinburgh city centre. With an automatic, you won’t have to worry about constantly changing gears in stop-start traffic. However, you’ll sacrifice the sense of control that comes with a manual.
Before you book your first driving lesson make sure you’re happy with the transmission style you’ve chosen.
Driving lesson prices in Edinburgh
Driving lesson prices vary across Edinburgh, but here’s an idea of what you can expect:
- 5 hours: £175
- 10 hours: £335
- 20 hours: £649
- 30 hours: £945
Tips for learning to drive in Edinburgh
The DVSA recommends 22 hours of private practice outside of lessons. You can take those hours with a friend or family member, providing they are aged 21 or over and have held a UK driving licence for at least three years.
There are plenty of great areas to practise in Edinburgh, whether you’re just starting out, or you’re almost ready for your test.
Carrick Knowe: Carrick Knowe is a relaxed, quiet place to begin learning to drive. Broomfield Crescent offers a chance to ease your way into steering. It forms a short loop with both Broomside Terrace and Saughton Road North, which is a good route to practise the basics on.
Collington: Collington is a great place to gain confidence with the accelerator and clutch control - its long straight roads mean you can think more about the pedals and worry less about steering (you’ll still have to be able to hold a straight line though of course!). A good circuit can be made of Redford Avenue and Redford Loan, where you can perfect moving off and stopping.
East Craigs: East Craigs offers some quiet residential roads, with the odd roundabout to gently introduce you to them. Try heading south on Drum Brae Street, a slightly busier road, and take care on the roundabout at the end of it. You can then head west (the third exit) onto Glasgow Road and turn right onto the quieter residential streets again.
The A70: The A70 is a winding country road, with blind bends, dips and rises, and several changes of speed limit. It’s a good road to test out your defensive driving, and given the road’s proximity to the Currie test centre, it makes for excellent test preparation.
Blackford: Lined with parked cars, roads in Blackford like West Savile Terrace are great for practising manoeuvres on, particularly the parallel park. West Savile Terrace goes on to meet Blackford Avenue, Charterhall Road, and Maurice Place in one big phased junction. If you can master it, you’ll be making good progress.
Restalrig Road: If you take Restalrig Road south, you’ll be challenged by a succession of roundabouts. The road meets the A1 by the Meadowbank Shopping Park. From here you can enter Meadowbank to perfect your bay parking, or continue on the A1 towards the centre of Edinburgh.
A199, Musselburgh: The A199 runs parallel to Fisherrow Harbour and is a stone’s throw from the Musselburgh driving test centre. Our tip is to turn off the A199 onto Newhailes Road, go straight over the roundabout and turn left onto Clayknowes Road before turning left again onto Stoneybank Gardens. This quiet residential area is perfect for practising your manoeuvres in an area which could come up during your practical driving test.
A1, Edinburgh: The A1 can take you into the busy heart of Edinburgh, past Calton Hill and Edinburgh Waverley. You’re sure to encounter traffic and cyclists which will test your clutch control and awareness. If you drive well in the packed centre of Edinburgh, then you’ll be well on your way to dealing effectively with the pressure of your practical driving test.
Corstorphine: Heading west on Glasgow Road you’ll meet the Gogar Roundabout. It can be intimidating at first sight with all its various exits. Keep a keen eye out for the signs indicating the slip road that will take you up to the roundabout. Try to find your lane early and pay close attention to your surroundings. From the roundabout, you can join the Edinburgh Bypass, a long dual carriageway where you can perfect your driving at higher speeds.
Choosing a driving test centre
Your driving instructor will help you to pick a test centre and make sure that you’re learning all the potential routes for your test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Currie Test Centre | Pass rate: 50%
Currie Test centre has a higher pass rate than the UK average, but one thing you should look out for is the tricky string of roundabouts on Calder Road.
Address: 13-15 Bryce Road, Currie, City of Edinburgh, EH14 5LT
Musselburgh Test Centre | Pass rate: 44.8%
Musselburgh Test Centre is close to the eastern edge of Edinburgh, so there is a good chance you’ll find yourself on country roads during your driving test.
Address: Newhailes Industrial Estate, Newhailes Road, Olivebank, Musselburgh, City of Edinburgh, EH21 6SJ
Search the DVSA to find your nearest test centre.
Test tips from Edinburgh instructors
1. Take a driving lesson beforehand
It’s a great idea to have a driving lesson before you take your test, especially in a busy city like Edinburgh. It will help you get used to driving conditions on the day, and give you that extra boost of confidence ahead of the test.
2. Be ready for roundabouts
A local instructor in Edinburgh says to watch out for the tricky string of roundabouts on Calder Road if you’re taking your test at Currie Test Centre. According to a local instructor around two-thirds of test routes take you there, so “make sure you get plenty of practice on them. If you can handle these, you can handle anything!”
3. Beware “The Graveyard”
Candidates at the Musselburgh Test Centre might have to deal with Old Craighall Roundabout, nicknamed “The Graveyard” by some instructors. Their advice: know where the timing points are to shift lane, as there are three on this roundabout. If in doubt ask your instructor to teach you the timing points for exiting the roundabout.
4. Watch the weather
If you have inclement weather during your test, make sure you adapt your driving accordingly. Wet weather, for example, will increase your stopping distance, and your examiner will be expecting you to adjust for this.
5. Drive defensively
Edinburgh, especially towards the city centre, can be quite congested. Being doubly aware of other road users and pedestrians is the way to go on your test, especially on Princes Street, perhaps the busiest street in Edinburgh.
Driving lessons in Edinburgh
The most popular areas to learn to drive in Edinburgh are:
Colington, East Craigs, Edinburgh Old Town, Gilmerton, Granton, Leith, Liberton, Morningside, Portobello and Slateford.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area of Edinburgh.