Your guide to learning to drive in South West London
How to choose a driving school in South West London
You need an instructor who:
- Supports you in your learning
- Makes learning enjoyable
Won’t cost an arm and a leg!
That's why you should do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
Check out sites like Trustpilot to see what your fellow learners have said about South West London’s driving schools. Good review sources will help you make an informed decision.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some schools in South West London state in their terms and conditions that you’ll have to pay an administration charge if you want to claim a refund. To avoid this, have a look through the school’s terms and conditions to make sure you’re not caught off guard by any hidden fees or policies.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to change instructors, but it’s good to check that your driving school would allow you to if you needed. Some schools in South West London don’t state clearly if you are allowed to request a different instructor. So make sure you enquire about whether you can switch before you commit to a driving school.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Have a look for how long you’d need to wait for your first lesson before you book. Some schools in South West London won’t show their waiting times until you’re midway through booking your lessons. Checking this beforehand will save you from dealing with unnecessarily long waiting times.
Choosing between manual and automatic
Make sure you’ve chosen if you want manual or automatic lessons before starting your lessons in South West London.
Automatic cars tend to be easier in heavy traffic. In London, drivers travel at an average speed of 7 mph due to traffic, according to The Independent. This means you’ll be doing a lot of stopping and starting in South West London. For this, it would certainly be less tiring to have an automatic car where you don’t have to work a clutch.
On the other hand, a manual car might suit you better as it can give you a greater sense of control. They’re also cheaper to buy and maintain. A manual licence will qualify you to drive either type of car, so that way you’ve got the freedom to switch and change in future.
Tips for learning to drive in South West London
According to the DVSA, you should have 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
Steer clear of the Congestion Charge zone if you can, to avoid having to pay. Here are some suggestions for places where you can practise outside of the Congestion Charge zone in South West London.
St Michael’s Road, Stockwell: There are a number of leafy residential streets near Stockwell which are ideal for learner drivers to practise their new skills on - and St Michael’s Road is just one of them. Once you’re done here, have a go on Stockwell Park Crescent and Hilly Fields Close, which are just around the corner.
Harcourt Road, Croydon: Harcourt Road is very close to the Croydon test centre and could easily end up on a test route. With plenty of space to pass other road users safely without the risk of hitting a parked car, this is a great area for you to practise your driving skills. Make sure to take a look at Marden Crescent, Wortley Road, Stanley Grove and Curzon Road as well.
Boston Road, Isleworth: Another one of those savvy places to practise your driving, Boston Road happens to be conveniently close to Isleworth Test Centre. Nearby Donald Road, Lancing Road and Stanley Road are other good, quiet streets for beginners to learn driving. There will be less pressure from other road users if you go to these areas during the week after rush hour.
Atkins Road, Streatham: This busy road incorporates a roundabout connecting Thornton Road, Weir Road and Clarence Avenue which can get quite busy during peak traffic hours. To the east, it joins the South Circular Road, which you can also take a trip down if you’re feeling adventurous.
Beddington Lane, Mitcham: This is a good place to push yourself while you practise driving at higher speeds. With a level crossing over a tram line near the turning into Brookmead Road, you’ll need to keep your wits about you. And what’s more, if you’re considering taking your test at Mitcham Test Centre, you’ll be doing some valuable prep for your driving test too - the centre’s just a stone’s throw away.
- Purley Way, Croydon: Also known as the A23, Purley Way has a slip road that takes you uphill and across an overpass. Or alternatively, you can go under the overpass towards Ampere Way. Be sure to check that you’re always in the correct lane and pay attention to diverted traffic.
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.
Ashford Test Centre | Pass rate: 49.3%
Ashford Test Centre’s pass rate is slightly above the UK national average. You’ll likely drive on a handful of roundabouts if you take your test here, like on Church Road, Convent Way and Kingston Road to name a few.
Address: 18/19 Fir Tree Place, Church Road, Ashford, Greater London, TW15 2PJ
Croydon Test Centre | Pass rate: 37.4%
Croydon Test Centre has a pass rate below the national average. You’ll likely come across narrow streets and lots of parked cars if you take your test here.
Address: 111 Canterbury Road, Croydon, Greater London, CR0 3HH
Isleworth Test Centre | Pass rate: 42.2%
Isleworth Test Centre is a good choice for those living near the Richmond or Hounslow areas. You can expect to drive on main roads like the A315 and A316.
Address: Worton Hall, Worton Road, Isleworth, Greater London, TW7 6ER
Morden Test Centre | Pass rate: 47.9%
You’ll drive on quiet residential streets and busy main roads from Morden Test Centre. Its pass rate is only slightly below the national average.
Address: 10 Tudor Drive, Morden, London, Surrey, SM4 4PE
Tolworth Test Centre | Pass rate: 49.3%
You’ll find Tolworth Test Centre along Douglas Road next to the A240. Taking your test here means you might drive towards Tolworth Roundabout so make sure you’re prepared.
Address: Douglas House, 1B Douglas Road, Tolworth, Greater London, KT6 7RZ
Check out the DVSA page to find your nearest driving test centre.
Test tips from South West London instructors
1. Prepare for heavy traffic
You’re certain to be faced with heavy traffic which is part and parcel of driving in and around London. If Croydon is your test centre of choice, it can be a challenging place. The test centre is always busy and it’s located in main traffic so make sure you get some experience in heavy traffic before taking your test so you're not thrown by it.
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. Remain observant
Not properly carrying out observations is a common reason that South Londoners fail their driving test. Observation, when changing lanes and 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 so stay aware of other drivers and remain observant.
4. Book a driving lesson beforehand
Having a final driving lesson right before your test can help to build up your confidence. Go over any roads you’re unsure of or that you suspect might come up on the test.
5. Be careful on roundabouts
There is one particular roundabout in Croydon that instructors have noted that learners often trip up on: “Lombard Roundabout is very close to the test centre and lots of people struggle here. Get some practice and get used to it so you’re confident driving on this during your test.”
Where can you book lessons in South West London
The most popular areas in South West London include:
Balham, Brixton, Chelsea, Clapham, Earlsfield, Fulham, Putney, Richmond, Streatham and Wimbledon.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area.