Your guide to learning to drive in North West London
How to choose a driving school in North West London
You need an instructor who:
- Builds your confidence
- Makes it fun to learn
Won’t empty your pockets!
That's why you should do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Check out what your fellow learners in North West London have said on sites like Trustpilot. Finding good review sources will help you understand what your experience would be like with any school you’re considering.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Make sure to look at the terms and conditions to know what you’re signing up for. Some schools in North West London state in their terms and conditions that if you want to claim a refund, you have to pay an administration charge. So it’s a good idea to look through the school’s policies to make sure there aren’t any hidden charges.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
There are driving schools in North West London that are vague about whether you can switch instructors, so it’s worth doing some research to see if they have any switching policies. It's important that you get on with your instructor, so be sure you’re able to switch if you need to.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Some schools in North West London won’t show their waiting times until you’re midway through booking your lessons. Make sure to find out how long you'll have to wait for your first lesson before you book so that you're not waiting longer than you have to.
Choosing between manual and automatic
Have a careful think about whether you want manual or automatic driving lessons before booking your first driving lesson.
Automatic cars don’t have a clutch pedal, just one for braking and one for accelerating. This makes them simpler to learn.
There are many steep hills in North West London, especially around Hampstead Heath with roads like the Highgate West Hill and East Heath Road. So you might find automatics easier to learn in when it comes to mastering hill starts.
However, automatic cars are more expensive to buy and run compared to manual cars. Manual cars also give you the chance to anticipate changes in terrain that might affect speed, like when you drive up hills.
Automatic licences only let you drive automatic cars, whereas manual licences let you drive manuals and automatics. So you might prefer the flexibility that a manual driving licence would give you.
Tips for learning to drive in North West London
According to the DVSA, you should have 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
Here are some suggestions of where you can practice in North West London.
Dawson Road: Dawson Road is a quiet and wide residential street with a 20 mph speed limit. Since it also has little traffic, it’s ideal for your first few practice sessions. And when you've gained a bit more confidence, you can have a go at turning onto the side roads.
The Ridgeway: This wide road in Mill Hill is good for practice at junctions and traffic lights. Head here on a weekday outside of rush hour and you’re likely to find it reasonably empty. Since it’s also near Mill Hill Test Centre, getting familiar with the area at this stage would be useful if you’re planning on taking your test there.
St Joseph’s Grove: If you’re looking for somewhere to have a go at your first roundabout, the one at the end of St Joseph’s Grove in Hendon is our top spot. Surrounded by little residential roads, you’re not likely to come across more than a car or two at a time. And, if you’re feeling up for a further challenge, you could try a hill start on the way back up towards Middlesex University, but obviously not during term time.
Brent Street: Brent Street is a busy urban area where you’ll encounter hill starts, parked cars, bus stops and pedestrians. If you’re taking your test at Hendon Test Centre, this road might come up on the day.
Finchley Road: Finchley Road, also known as the A41, will give you valuable dual carriageway experience in North West London. Make sure that you keep an eye out for hazards. This busy road has a number of tube and overground stations dotted along it, meaning lots of pedestrians.
- Kilburn Lane: Head to Kilburn Lane and the surrounding streets to have a go at driving in a mini one-way system. Take this as an opportunity to practise reading and responding to road signs, which will be observed during your driving test.
South Hill Park: South Hill Park starts by going past Hampstead Heath overground station, where the road will narrow with parked cars on both sides. It’s the ultimate test of spatial awareness, hazard perception and parallel parking.
Swiss Cottage: There’s a triangle of box junctions surrounding Swiss Cottage tube station. They all have multiple lanes to navigate, so try them a few times each. You’ll definitely improve your skills in forward-planning and switching lanes.
Edgware Road: Also known as the A5, this dual carriageway leads to a roundabout that connects with the North Circular. From here, you’ll need to exit the main dual carriageway to get to the roundabout below. You’ll certainly get good practice responding to road signs!
Choosing your test centre
Your instructor will help you practise the routes that are likely to come up in your driving test. Here are the driving test centres near you.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Hendon Test Centre | Pass rates: 42.1%
Hendon Test Centre has one of the best pass rates in London. As it’s on the city’s outskirts, you may come across rural roads on your test.
Address: 3 Aviation Drive, Beaufort Park, Hendon, Greater London, NW9 5TZ
Mill Hill Test Centre | Pass rates: 41.1%
There will be a mix of urban and rural roads if you’re taking your test at Mill Hill Test Centre. You’ll find it near Woodgrove Park and next to the M1.
Address: Unit 9, Grannard Business Centre, Bunns Lane, Mill Hill, Greater London, NW7 2DQ
To find your nearest test centre, you can enter your postcode on the DVSA’s website.
Test tips from North West London instructors
1. Drive defensively
You will need to be aware of what’s happening around you at all times during your test. Remember to check your side mirrors during your test, especially when changing lanes in busy traffic. Also, watch out for other drivers and pedestrians.
2. Bring everything you need
Your provisional driver’s licence and your theory test pass certificate are needed for your test. If you don’t bring both, your test will be cancelled and you’ll have to pay for a retake.
3. Drive slowly on narrow roads
If you’re taking your test at Hendon Test Centre, the road leading into the driving test centre is quite narrow, so you should drive slowly when approaching it at the end of your test. So take things slow on this road and don’t let up just because it’s nearing the end of the test.
4. Arrive early
It’s a good idea to arrive early for your test, especially at Mill Hill Test Centre which has limited parking. You won't want to be late, so give yourself plenty of time to find a parking space.
5. Take a driving lesson beforehand
One final driving lesson taken directly prior to your test can help prepare you. We highly recommend that learners get lots of practice in the areas close to the test centre, so they can gain more confidence before taking their driving test. You can use the lesson to go over any roads in the local area you’re unsure about.
Where can you take lessons in North West London
Here are some of the top areas you can book lessons in North West London:
Belsize Park, Camden Town, Hampstead, Hendon, Kentish Town, Willesden, Queen’s Park, Kilburn and Regent’s Park.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area.