Your guide to learning to drive in Oxford
How to choose a driving school in Oxford
When considering driving schools Oxford has some great options. Most importantly though, you want to find a driving instructor in Oxford who:
- Supports you in your learning
- Makes it enjoyable to learn
- Won’t cost an arm and a leg!
That’s why it’s important to remember these 4 things!
1. Compare reviews
If you want to find the best driving lessons in Oxford for your budget, you should spend some time reading about other learners’ experiences in your area. Reliable review sites like Google reviews will help you find a good driving school in Oxford.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some driving schools in Oxford may be quick to offer a great introductory deal, but remember to check the fine print. The hours in these driving lesson packages could have conditions that mean they have to be used at specific times of the day or week.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
Let’s face it, not every instructor’s teaching style is going to match your learning style. Some driving schools in Oxford may let you switch, but it might only be directly after your first lesson.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Driving schools in Oxford can often have wait times of up to 4 weeks in busy periods like summer. Some schools will also only inform you of their wait times after you’ve made an enquiry.
Choosing between manual and automatic
One thing to consider before learning to drive is whether you’ll take manual or automatic driving lessons.
Automatic cars are generally easier to drive, which can make starting and stopping in central-Oxford traffic less stressful. Manual cars, on the other hand, give you more precise control over the engine. This can make them more satisfying to drive along the A40 or on winding country roads.
It’s also a good idea to consider the price. Manual lessons are cheaper, but because automatics are easier to drive, you might find you pass faster. Remember, as there are fewer automatic instructors than manual, not all driving schools in Oxford will offer automatic lessons at times that suit you.
One final thing to think about are the permissions you get from each licence. A manual licence allows you to drive both types of car, whereas an automatic is restricted to just that transmission type. Something to consider if you want to drive on holiday, when you mightn’t have as much choice in rental cars!
Tips for learning to drive in Oxford
Supplementing your driving lessons in Oxford with private practice is the most cost-effective way to learn to drive. The DVSA recommends a minimum of 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
Here are some places to practise from our driving instructors in Oxford.
St Paul’s Crescent, near Botley: The perfect place if you need a confidence boost, St Paul’s Crescent is quiet, residential, and cut off from passing traffic. Practise steering, clutch control, and parking. When you’re ready, try running down to Hawthorn and Maple crescents for some light roundabout practice!
Jericho and Park Town: While we’ve picked Jericho and Park Town, most of Oxford’s residential areas are a good mix of narrow roads, low speeds, and moderate traffic. Focus on getting comfortable interacting with other drivers, staying aware of your surroundings, and entering and exiting main roads like Kingston, Woodstock, and Banbury.
City Centre: Oxford’s historic city centre is a mildly-confusing combination of one-way streets, bus-only zones, and a lot of pedestrians. It presents a nice challenge to learners looking to up their observation game, or anyone who wants to mimic the adrenaline rush of a practical driving test.
Grenoble Road, near Littlemore: If you fancy yourself some roundabout practice, this is probably the best road in the country. Enter from the A4074 and ride the roundabout express to Watlington Road, where the 8th (!) roundabout will loop you right back to do the whole thing from the other direction. Do that a few times and you’ll never fear another traffic island!
Choosing your test centre
There is only one test centre in Oxford, but there are a few further afield that are worth trying. 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.
Aylesbury Test Centre | Pass rate: 48.4%
Set in a semi-industrial area, make sure you practise on plenty of roundabouts before the test as the centre is surrounded by them. The biggest is the A41, Bicester Road roundabout, located next to the Gateway. It has two lanes and gets quite busy during the day, so keep a lookout for impatient drivers entering in front of you.
Address: Unit 9 Ground Floor, Bell Business Park, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP19 8JR
Banbury Test Centre | Pass rate 52.3%
There’s a lot happening as soon as you exit the Banbury test centre, from the cars whipping down West Bar Street, to the bustling thoroughfare of Banbury Cross roundabout. Make sure you get comfortable driving around the city centre before your test. If you can handle the heat of the first five minutes, the rest will feel easy!
Address: 3 West Bar Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 9SD
Oxford (Cowley) Test Centre | Pass rate: 48.1%
Oxford’s primary test centre, it is situated in a residential area, which should help ease you into things. James Wolfe Road itself is only 20 mph, but be careful if you exit onto Hollow Way, as the speed limit jumps to 30 mph and there are a lot of cars, buses, and bicycles. This goes double for Horspath Road, which is busy at the best of times.
Address: James Wolfe Road, Cowley, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX4 2PY
You can also search the DVSA to find the nearest test centre to your postcode.
Test tips from driving instructors in Oxford
Driving instructors in Oxford give you the inside information:
1. Stay aware with observations
Oxford’s streets are narrow and can get quite busy, especially along Horspath Road and Horspath Driftway. Before attempting any manoeuvre, make sure you’re checking your mirrors and blind spots. Knowing the locations of other cars will give you more time to turn, change lanes, and parallel park.
2. Get a lesson before
Driving around the test area will help you get a feel for the terrain, not to mention the weather and traffic conditions. Run up Hollow Way and the Eastern By-Pass Road before putting in some parking practice on Hunter and Kennedy Close, which you’ll find directly behind the test centre.
3. Be ready for roundabouts
It’s highly likely you’ll have to contend with the Slade roundabout sooner or later. Don’t let its size and lack of a central island fool you, it gets awfully busy during the day. Stay defensive, as impatient drivers will often cut right across it!
Where can you have driving lessons in Oxford?
When it comes to getting learner drivers onto the road, instructors have got the whole of Oxford wrapped up. The top areas in Oxfordshire include:
Abingdon, Banbury, Bicester, Chinnor, Chipping Norton, Cowley, Headington, St Clemens, Thame, and Witney.
Enter your postcode above to check lesson pricing in your local area of Oxford.