The essential guide to learning to drive in North London
How to choose a driving instructor in North London
Choosing the right instructor is the most important element of learning to drive, a good instructor should:
- Support you and guide you
- Make learning fun and enjoyable
- Not cost the earth!
So there are 4 things to do before picking a school:
1. Compare reviews
You’ll get a more reliable picture of what it’s like to learn with a particular school or instructor in North London by visiting independent review sites.
2. Read terms and conditions
The usual notice period for cancelling a driving lesson without being charged is 48 hours. But some schools in North London only offer intensive courses, and require you to give 10 days’ notice before cancelling, or else you will still be charged. Check the terms and conditions, especially cancellation policies, before you book.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
If things don’t go to plan with your instructor, you’ll want a school that can provide you with a new one. However, some North London schools don’t guarantee you a new instructor. They will only refund you, or worse, won’t refund you at all if you’ve block booked lessons.
4. Avoid long waiting times
If you want to get on the road quickly, make sure you ask about waiting times before you book lessons. Not all schools in North London publish this information, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not waiting weeks for your first lesson.
Choosing between manual and automatic
There’s a choice to be made between manual and automatic driving lessons.
North London has a lot of slow-moving traffic which is easier to negotiate in an automatic car. That’s because you won’t have to worry about constant gear changes. As the Evening Standard has reported, London is one of the worst cities in the world for congestion. So an automatic could definitely be useful.
However, with an automatic licence, you’ll only be qualified to drive an automatic car. A manual licence offers more flexibility as it qualifies you to drive either type of vehicle. On top of this, lessons are cheaper and manual cars offer a greater sense of control.
In the end, it’s down to you to pick which transmission you prefer.
Tips for learning to drive in North London
The DVSA recommends 22 hours of private practice before you take your test. Luckily, there are plenty of great locations for this across North London.
Coburg Road Industrial Estate: This quiet industrial estate is an excellent location for learner drivers to practise in between driving lessons. Close to Barratt Gardens and just off Mayes Road, there are some simple mini-roundabouts for you to negotiate as well.
Arnos Grove: With plenty of wide residential streets, Arnos Grove is a great place for learner drivers to practise. Brycedale Crescent, Forestdale, Langside Crescent and Minchenden Crescent on the east side of Arnos Park are all worth taking a drive around.
Torrington Park: Another area for beginners to practise in is Torrington Park, near North Finchley. With its wide, quiet, residential roads, it’s a great area for learners. Ravensdale Avenue, Grove Road and Mayfield Avenue are just a few roads in the area well worth a visit.
Wood Green: Wood Green comes complete with bus lanes, zebra crossings, T-junctions and quiet residential streets to practise parallel parking. Better yet, there’s a test centre in Wood Green, so it could be handy to get familiar with the area. Lordship Lane, Salisbury Road and Coombe Road are our favourites for a spot of practice.
-Downhills Park Road Roundabout: Downhills Park Road Roundabout is great for intermediate drivers. Try going right at the roundabout from Downhills Park Road onto Belmont Road to get onto the bustling Wood Green Road. There are some calmer residential areas nearby for you to practise doing some manoeuvres too.
Mark Road: If you haven’t come across some one-way systems already, now is your chance. Mark Road is part of a one-way system that leads towards the A10, where you can get some practice driving safely at a higher speed too.
Junction at Turnpike Lane Tube Station: This is a challenging junction because there’s a lot of traffic and pedestrians entering and exiting the tube station. Keep your wits about you as there are likely to be cyclists dismounting nearby as well as buses and a dreaded box junction.
A10 Junction at Seven Sisters: The junction where the A10 meets Seven Sisters Road, close to the Seven Sisters tube station, has a box junction to make things confusing for you. Remember to keep an eye out for buses and bus lanes around this busy junction as well.
Priory Road Junction: This can be quite a confusing intersection for a learner driver, so it’s a good idea to get some practice here if you’ll be driving locally after you pass your test. Connecting the A504 to Muswell Hill, Priory Road, Park Road and Alexandra Palace Way, there’s a lot going on at this large junction but luckily there are traffic lights to help ease the flow of traffic.
Muswell Hill Roundabout: Once you’re a confident driver, this roundabout will be a piece of cake. There are multiple lanes of traffic and even a separate ‘bus only’ section to watch out for. Connecting the A504, Dukes Avenue and Muswell Hill Broadway, there’s a lot of heavy traffic to deal with.
Choosing a driving test centre
When you’ve picked your driving test centre, your instructor will help you learn the routes likely to come up in your test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Barnet Test Centre | Pass rate: 37%
The Barnet test centre is on the outskirts of North London, near the M25. You can expect residential roads and country lanes, so make sure you prep for both.
Address: Raydean House, 15 – 17 Western Parade, Barnet, Greater London, EN5 1AD
Enfield Test Centre | Pass rate: 37.1%
The Enfield test centre is on the edge of a business park, so the first roads you encounter will be relatively quiet. Be ready for roundabouts, as there’s no less than three around the business park.
Address: Solar Way, Innova Park Business Centre, Enfield, Greater London, EN3 7XY
Hendon Test Centre | Pass rate: 42.1%
Hendon Test Centre has a high pass rate relative to the other test centres in North London, but it’s still well below the national average.
Address: 3 Aviation Drive, Beaufort Park, Hendon, Greater London, NW9 5TZ
Mill Hill Test Centre | Pass rate: 41.1%
Mill Hill test centre is right next to the M1. But don’t worry, you won’t be examined on a motorway.
Address: Unit 9, Granard Business Centre, Bunns Lane, Mill Hill, Greater London NW7 2DQ
Tottenham Test Centre | Pass rate: 37.8%
Tottenham Test Centre is near some busy A roads, including the A10 and A406. If you’re taking your test here, you’ll want to be ready for bustling urban roads, and the potential for heavy traffic, depending on the time of your test.
Address: Tottenham Annex Building, Selby Centre, Selby Road, Tottenham, Greater London, N17 8JL
Wanstead Test Centre | Pass rate: 35.6%
Wanstead is a notoriously difficult place to take your test, but don’t let that put you off. If you pass your test here, you’ll know you’re a driver ready for any situation.
Address: 2 Devon House, Hermon Hill, Wanstead, Greater London, E11 2AW
Wood Green Test Centre | Pass rate: 39.3%
The Wood Green test centre is, like a lot of London test centres, in a heavily built-up area, hence its low pass rate. Make sure you take extra care around these roads and always be alert to other road users and pedestrians.
Address: Wood Green Crown Court, Woodhall House, Lordship Lane, Wood Green, Greater London, N22 5LF
Find your nearest test centre through the DVSA.
Test tips from North London instructors
1. Be ready for congestion at Wanstead
A local instructor says: “The roads around the Wanstead test centre are very busy and congested. Depending on the time of your test, many road users won’t give you the time you need at junctions, roundabouts and even turning into and exiting the test centre.” So make sure you stay patient during your test.
2. Practise your roundabouts
If you’re near Wanstead, an instructor from the area warns : “get some practice on Charlie Brown’s Roundabout, Waterworks Corner at the A12 approaching the Redbridge roundabout from Wanstead, and exiting the Redbridge roundabout on the A12 towards Gants Hill.” A lot of drivers struggle here during their test.
3. Watch out for narrow roads
Hendon, Wanstead and Barnet test centres all have some very narrow roads to contend with. A local instructor advises that “the road leading to Hendon Test Centre is very narrow, so you should make sure to reduce your speed on approach.” the advice for those at Wanstead is to “watch out for the 30 mph, narrow road which is near the test centre. If you cause the traffic on this road to slow down to allow yourself to move off you can get a serious fault for this.”
4. Exit Enfield Test Centre slowly
An Enfield based instructor warns that you’ll need to go slowly when approaching and leaving Enfield Test Centre. He explains that “the test centre is located next to a dual carriageway, but the roads leading into the centre are 20 mph.” Don’t let that catch you out!
5. Check out the parking situation
If you’ve opted for Wanstead Test Centre, one thing you’ll have to contend with will be the parking situation. One instructor explains: “there’s no car park at this test centre, so you have to park on the main road or side streets during times when parking is restricted with single yellow lines. Be careful where you park, as camera cars have been known to issue tickets by post for cars parked for driving tests.”
Driving Lessons in North London
Some of the most popular areas in North London are:
Enter your postcode below to check lesson pricing in your local area of North London.