The essential guide to learning to drive in South East London
How to choose a driving school in South East London
Everyone deserves an instructor who:
- Supports your learning
- Makes lessons enjoyable
- Won’t cost the earth!
That’s why you should do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Not every South East London school publishes its reviews online, and the schools that do show only their best reviews. Make sure to check independent review sites like Trustpilot for a better sense of other learners’ experiences.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
If you have any specific requirements around learning to drive, make sure you read the Ts and Cs to make sure a school can meet your requirements. One school in South East London, for example, only offers female instructors to its female students.
3. Check you can switch instructors
If you run into circumstances where you need to change instructor, you’ll want a driving school that can help. Some schools in South East London are able to provide you with a new instructor immediately, but others will only be able to refund you and put you on a new waiting list.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Not every school in South East London publishes its waiting times, so ensure you contact a school before booking to find out how quickly you’ll be on the road. Some schools encourage you to book early to avoid disappointment, especially if you’re planning an intensive course over the summer holidays.
Choosing between manual and automatic
Before you start learning, you’ll have to pick between manual and automatic driving lessons.
Driving in South East London, you’re bound to come across slow-moving traffic at one time or another. After all, London is one of the most congested cities in Europe according to TomTom. You might prefer an automatic to avoid the hassle of changing gears all the time in stop-start traffic.
However, an automatic licence only qualifies you to drive automatic vehicles, whereas a manual licence will allow you to drive either transmission type. Manual lessons also tend to be cheaper, as there are more manual instructors available.
Either way, make sure you take your time over this decision before booking your first lesson in South East London.
Tips for learning to drive in South East London
The DVSA recommends 22 hours of private practice in advance of your test. Fortunately, there are lots of excellent locations for this across South East London. When you’re looking for places to practice, watch out for London’s Congestion Charge zone.
Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham: Lawrie Park Road is a wide, quiet road perfect for learning moving off and stopping. Once you’re ready for a change of scene, try out Border Road, Lawrie Park Crescent, Lawrie Park Gardens and Hall Drive.
Pickwick Road, East Dulwich: Pickwick Road and nearby Burbage Road, Aysgarth Road and Boxall Road are great for novice drivers. They’re all super quiet with lots of room for getting to grips with the basics of driving, without the pressure of other cars around.
George Lane, Hither Green: Where better to practise than near a driving test centre? George Lane and the surrounding Springrice Road, Radford Road and Mount Pleasant Road are likely to be included in the Hither Green Test Centre routes. Getting familiar with this area early on could improve your confidence ready for when test day rolls around.
Anerley Hill Road, Crystal Palace: Anerley Hill Road has plenty of traffic and is often narrowed by parked cars. It’s a good challenge, after which you can venture further afield onto Cintra Park, Patterson Road and Milestone Road. You’ll learn how to safely pass parked cars whilst dealing with oncoming traffic in no time!
Tower Hill Bridge Road, South London: This is a very busy road with lots of buses, cyclists and pedestrians, let alone cars! It’s littered with box junctions so you’ll have ample opportunity to master them. Knowing your box junctions well will benefit you on test day, as there are plenty around the Hither Green and Croydon test centres.
Bricklayers Arms Roundabout: Enjoy views of The Shard as you negotiate this busy, multi-lane roundabout in South East London. Although there are traffic lights to help you around, there’s a public outdoor space in the centre so you’ll need to watch out for pedestrians.
Elephant & Castle: This is a very hectic area, especially by the tube station. There’s a large roundabout, multi-lane traffic, lots of pedestrians, and a busy bus lane. The A201, Newington Causeway, London Road, St George’s Road and Newington Butts all run through the area, so make sure you know how to navigate them - focus on your position and pay attention to road signs and markings.
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.
Hither Green Test Centre | Pass rate: 49%
For a London test centre, Hither Green has a very healthy pass rate. It’s situated amongst residential roads, with the A20 and the A205 nearby.
Address: 42-44 Ennersdale Road, Hither Green, Greater London, SE13 6JD
Croydon Test Centre| Pass rate: 37.4%
Croydon Test Centre is on the doorstep of the A23 and a busy roundabout, which may be the reason its pass rate is much lower than Hither Green’s.
Address: 111 Canterbury Road, Croydon, Greater London, CR0 3HH
Find your nearest test centre through the DVSA.
Test tips from South East London instructors
1. Be prepared for rush hour
There’ll be very heavy traffic during rush hour, so be prepared to come across some pushy drivers and unsafe pedestrians crossing the road in unexpected places. Hither Green has one of the highest pass rates in London, but that’s no excuse to take a back seat.
2. Be ready for Lombard roundabout
If you’re taking your test at Croydon Test Centre, you’ll have to face the busy Lombard Roundabout. This is the biggest roundabout in Croydon, with two lanes upon approach. Get plenty of practice driving on it and in time, you will start to get used to it and build your confidence so that you won’t be fazed if you’re asked to drive around it on your test.
3. Keep your nerves in check
Anxiety is a big reason for failing a driving test. Panicking at junctions and roundabouts, and lack of observations during manoeuvres especially, are what cause issues. You need to make sure that you can demonstrate to your examiner that you’re calm and in control.
4. Don’t forget to observe
Observation, when changing lanes or joining traffic, is paramount. If you cause other road users to slow down due to not looking well enough, you will get a major fault. It’s an easy way to fail your driving test.
5. Practice makes perfect
It’s all about good peep and creep technique, when joining a busy road at a junction. We would also advise perfecting your MSM (Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre) and MSPSL (Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look) routines. If in doubt, look, look and look again before you commit!
Where can you take lessons in South East London
Top-rated driving instructors cover the whole of South East London. A few of the top areas are:
Bermondsey, Camberwell, Crystal Palace, Dartford Dulwich Village, Elephant and Castle, Greenwich, Hither Green, Lambeth, Peckham and Southwark.
Enter your postcode below to check lesson pricing in your local area of South East London.