Your guide to learning to drive in Northampton
How to choose a driving instructor in Northampton
They are plenty of driving schools and instructors in Northampton. Ultimately, you want to find a driving instructor who:
- Encourages you
- Helps you enjoy learning
- Won’t charge a fortune!
That’s why it’s important to remember these 4 things!
1. Compare reviews
You can find out about the driving schools in Northampton by reading about other Northampton learners' experiences in you area. These will help you find the best driving lessons in Northampton for your budget.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Driving schools in Northampton can be quick to offer unbelievable introductory deals. Remember to check the fine print, however, as these hours often have to be used at specific times of the day or week. They may not match the times you want to take lessons. So always read the T&C's on any offers, if it's too good to be true, it usually is.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
It’s generally better to learn with a single instructor than constantly changing. But sometimes an instructor doesn’t suit your learning style. Though some driving schools in Northampton will let you switch, it might only be directly after your first lesson. Check you can freely switch instructors should you need to before parting with your money.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Wait times at driving schools in Northampton can be up to 4 weeks or more in busy periods like summer. Worse still, some schools will only let you know their wait times after you’ve made a booking enquiry.
Choosing between manual and automatic
An important consideration before learning to drive is whether you’ll take manual or automatic driving lessons.
Manual cars might be more satisfying if you see yourself jumping on the M1 on a regular basis, as they give a strong sense of control. Automatic cars, on the other hand, are easier to drive, and might better suit Northampton’s inner-city streets.
You should also consider price. Manual lessons are generally cheaper but automatics are considered easier to drive, so you could end up passing faster. Some driving schools in Northampton may not offer as many automatic lessons as they do manual lessons.
Lastly, an automatic licence will only let you drive an automatic car, whereas a manual licence will allow you to drive both transmission types. Think about which cars you’re likely to drive in the future, including any overseas travel!
Tips for learning to drive in Northampton
The most cost-effective way to learn to drive is to supplement your driving lessons in Northampton with private practice. The DVSA recommends a minimum of 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
Here are some options from our driving instructors in Northampton.
The area near the National Lift Tower: With some quiet roads, deserted junctions, and a picturesque roundabout, the area around the National Lift Tower is the perfect place to begin your practice. Work on steering and clutch control while you’re there. Your confidence will be boosted in no time!
Residential area near Hunsbarrow Road: A great place to get a feel for local traffic. This residential area has a lot of quiet crescents and narrow lanes. You’ll get a lot of practise parking, pulling over, and giving way without the stress of a main road.
A4500, A508 Roundabout: Arguably the busiest roundabout in town, come here to test your mettle in heavy traffic. The traffic lights add another element to think about, so make sure you have a clear idea of where you want to exit, and the steps you have to take to get there!
Bedford Road, heading East: If you fancy yourself some country driving, heading out of town on Bedford Road will do the trick. Explore the areas around the Bigger and Littler Houghtons and you’ll find a lot of varied driving conditions to round out your skillset.
Choosing your test centre
Once you’ve chosen your driving test centre, your instructor will introduce you to the routes that are likely to come up in your driving test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Kettering Test Centre | Pass rate 50.9%
This test centre is situated in an isolated business park, which should go some way to easing any test-day nerves. Be prepared to leave that relative sanctuary, however, and tackle the A14. Remember your observations, especially when changing lanes, and be assertive when entering roundabouts. Address: Orion Way, Kettering Business Park, Kettering, Northamptonshire, NN15 6NL
Northampton Test Centre | Pass rate: 48.7%
Located in a busy business centre, you’ll be confronted immediately by narrow roads with plenty of cars and vans sharing the space. You’ll also have the roundabout on Mill Lane to contend with. Make sure you do some light practise familiarising yourself with the area directly before your test. Address: Gladstone Business Centre, Gladstone Road, Northampton, Northamptonshire, NN5 7QA
Wellingborough Test Centre | Pass rate: 61.0%
Set in a residential area, the Wellingborough test centre is surrounded by quiet streets that should ease you into test mode. Your biggest challenges will come from junctions leading to busy main roads, and the inevitable multi-lane roundabouts at the end of them. Our driving instructors in Northampton recommend this test centre. Address: Glamis Hall, Goldsmith Road, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN8 3RU
You can also search the DVSA to find the nearest test centre to your postcode.
Test tips from driving instructors in Northampton
Driving instructors in Northampton give you the low-down.
1. Get a lesson before
Driving around the test area to familiarise yourself can really help make you comfortable in the test. Get into the swing of things by checking out all the junctions and roundabouts, and putting in some last minute parking practice so the test is a breeze. This particularly important at the Northampton test centre, as the area around the Gladstone Business Centre can be a little chaotic.
2. Exercise patience on roundabouts
There’s no denying the challenge a large roundabout can present on test day. The overpass roundabouts on the A14 near the Kettering test centre will take a lot of concentration during busy times. Remember to approach them slowly and wait for a good opportunity to enter. Once you’ve made the decision, don’t hesitate! Road safety is all about being predictable.
3. Habitually make your observations
Examiners will be on the lookout for this on test day. Make a habit of checking your mirrors and blindspots before you make any maneuvers. This will help a great deal at the Wellingborough test centre, where you’ll have to make a lot of decisions along both Shelley Road and the Queensway.
Driving lessons in Northampton
The top areas to learn in Northampton include:
Woodbridge Hill, Stoughton, Onslow Village, Farncombe, Pattenham, Godalming, Hurtmore, Compton, West Clandon, Sutton Green, Palmers Cross, Peaslake and Chilworth.
Enter your postcode above to check lesson pricing in your local area of Northampton.