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How to choose a driving instructor in Leeds
Everyone wants an instructor who:
- Supports you in your learning
- Makes it fun
- Won’t rip you off!
That’s why it’s important to do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Visit review sites for a better sense of a driving instructor’s customer service and the satisfaction of their learners, to help find the right instructor for you.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some schools in Leeds can seem quite attractive with cheap introductory offers. Bear in mind that some hours will be restricted in how and when you use them. Read the terms and conditions carefully so you're clear on any restrictions or stipulations.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
If your learning isn’t going well, you might want to swap driving instructors, but not every school in Leeds can facilitate this. In addition, if you’ve block booked with an independent instructor you could be stuck taking lessons with them. So make sure whoever you learn with will let you swap instructors for no extra charge.
4. Avoid waiting times
Most schools in Leeds don’t publish their waiting times, so you should always enquire about waiting times before booking. That way you’ll get an idea of when you’ll start learning before you have to pay. Remember that most schools will offer fewer automatic driving lessons compared to manual.
Choosing between manual and automatic driving lessons
Before you start learning, you’ll need to choose between manual and automatic driving lessons.
Leeds has plenty of hills, being in the eastern foothills of the Pennines. Automatics tend to be easier on hills, as you don’t have to worry about changing gears. They are also easier in stop-start traffic. And you can bet on a lot of stop-start traffic in Leeds. It’s one of the top ten most congested cities outside London, as revealed by the Yorkshire Evening Post.
That said, manual driving lessons tend to be cheaper than automatic driving lessons in Leeds. So if you’re on a budget, you might prefer them. A manual licence will also let you drive both types of vehicle, whereas an automatic licence restricts you to automatics. Take your time when picking between the two, as there are advantages to both.
Tips for learning to drive in Leeds
If you can, it’s always a help to get some private practice in between lessons with a family member or friend. The DVSA recommends 22 hours of this before you take your practical driving test.
Luckily Leeds has plenty of great places to practise, no matter your level:
Whitehall Industrial Estate: If it’s your first time behind the wheel, heading to Whitehall Industrial Estate on a Sunday would be a good shout. Just up the road from New Farnley, it’ll be relatively quiet, and the roads form a loop perfect for getting the hang of steering and clutch control.
Gainsborough Avenue: This wide, straight, residential road in Adel is a popular destination for new learners. You can take your time to hone moving off and stopping, signalling, and changing gear. Nearby Kingsley Road and Gainsborough Drive are also good spots.
Drury Avenue: This residential street in the Horsforth area has a small roundabout that’s well signposted and quiet - ideal for your first go at a roundabout before you head onto trickier ones. Close to Horsforth Test Centre, it could be wise to get familiar with this area in case you find yourself taking your test here later down the line.
Oak Tree Drive: This steep incline heads out of Harehills towards Gipton. With a pelican crossing halfway up, it’s the perfect place to put those pesky hill starts to the test! And, of course, it’s just a stone’s throw from Harehills Test Centre, so it could be a route you’re faced with on the big day itself. Obviously, this location is less useful if you’re taking automatic driving lessons.
Pontefract Lane: If it’s time to brush up on your dual carriageway driving, Pontefract Lane is our top choice. Start in Cross Green and come back on yourself when you get to the roundabout where it intersects with the M1 (don’t forget, you can’t take the motorway as a learner unless you’re with your instructor in a dual control car!). Not only will you get valuable dual carriageway experience, but you’ll also encounter a series of double-lane roundabouts.
Brandon Crescent: Now you’ve got the basics down, you’ll need to push yourself with some country driving - and Brandon Crescent is sure to stretch your skills. Just north of Shadwell, it’s narrow and winding, so remember that the national speed limit won’t always be appropriate here. You’ll also have to pull over if you encounter another car, so stay alert!
Meadow Road, Dewsbury Road and Victoria Road: Just south of the city centre, these three roads form a figure of eight that’s tricky to get your head around. If you’re feeling brave, have a go at approaching the centre from Dewsbury Road - it’ll be a real lesson in switching lanes and reading lane markings and road signs!
Sheepscar Junction: If you’re really looking to challenge yourself, Sheepscar Junction is the place to do it. With heavy traffic, multiple lanes and a ton of street markings and road signs to follow, it’s one place where staying calm under pressure is key.
City Centre Loop: The likelihood is that you’ll have to deal with this one-way route circling Leeds city centre regularly once you’ve passed your driving test - so why not get the hang of it now? It’s around two miles long, has 18 junctions for you to handle, and befuddles drivers and sat navs alike. Keep a sharp eye out for your exit, as once you’ve missed it you’ll have to go the whole way back round again!
Choosing your test centre
Your instructor will help you choose a test centre, and get you learning all the routes that could come up in your driving test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Horsforth Test Centre | Pass rate: 44.9%
The Horsforth test centre is in an area of mainly residential roads in the Horsforth suburb north of Leeds. You’ll want to take extra care with all the narrow roads and parked cars about. The A6120 is the closest major road to the test centre, so be prepared for its many roundabouts.
Address: Room 013 Woodside House, 261 Low Lane, Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 5NY
Harehills Test Centre | Pass rate: 33.3%
The Harehills test centre is located in a built-up area. The pass rate is significantly lower than the Horsforth Test Centre because it’s much closer to Leeds city centre. Don’t let that put you off though - passing here will mean you’re ready for anything.
Address: Hillcrest House, 386 Harehills Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 6NF
The DVSA can help you find your nearest test centre.
Instructor tips for passing your test in Leeds
1. Avoid rush hour
Book your test outside of rush hour to avoid Leeds’ heaviest traffic. For most learners, it’s a lot more relaxing when there are fewer cars about.
2. Take a driving lesson beforehand
It’s a good idea to take a driving lesson before your test. This can act as a warm-up so that the test isn't the first time you’ve driven that day. You could practise the roads around your test centre, or squeeze in some last-minute manoeuvre practice.
3. Get some extra practice around Harehills Test Centre
A top Leeds based instructor tells us: “Harehills has tricky turns, traffic lights to turn right at and dual carriageways to turn across. Not that you won’t pass if you’re ready, but you’ll need a few extra hours of practice round here I reckon.”
4. Beware the Holton Roundabout
Look out for the Holton Roundabout if you’re taking your test at Harehills. Some of its exits are quite close together, making them easy to miss. According to a local instructor “Learners don’t always leave themselves time to check their mirrors and signal before moving into the left lane, so make sure you get your instructor to go over the timing here with you.”
5. Be prepared to overtake on the A6120
A local expert instructor also warns that learners on the A6120 "often get caught out by not making enough progress or not overtaking a slow car in front. If you need to overtake, just make sure that you come back into the left lane afterwards.”
6. Keep an eye on the weather
If you’re struck by bad weather during your test, like heavy rain or fog, make sure you respond appropriately. Breaking distances will increase in wet weather and visibility will shrink during fog. Your examiner will want to see you adapt your driving safely and accordingly.
Lessons in Leeds
Areas you can learn in Leeds include:
Alwoodley, Armley, Beeston, Burley, Chapel Allerton, Stanningley, Headingley, Holbeck, Horsforth and Seacroft.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area of Leeds.