Your guide to learning to drive in Swindon
How to choose a driving instructor in Swindon
Your ideal instructor should:
- Encourage you
- Make learning fun
- Not empty your pockets!
So it’s important to do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
It’s really useful to read up on what other learners thought about Swindon’s driving schools and instructors. Reading reviews will give you an insight into what other pupils have experienced and allow for a more informed choice.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some driving schools in Swindon won’t accept responsibility if you overpay for a driving lesson. So you could end up accidentally spending more than you need to. Make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure that won't happen to you and you're not caught out by any other nasty surprises.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
You’ll want a good relationship with your instructor to get the most out of your learning experience. For this reason, you might want to change instructors if any issues emerge. Not all driving schools in Swindon are clear about if and how you can switch instructors, so it’s worth looking into a school’s switching policies before you commit to it.
4. Avoid long waiting times
You’ll want to know what the waiting times are before booking so that you have all you need to make a decision. Some driving schools in Swindon could make you wait over 30 days for a lesson, so make sure that you’re not waiting longer than you need to.
Choosing between manual and automatic
Before you take your driving lessons, it’s important to choose between a manual and an automatic licence. Automatic cars only have brake and accelerator pedals, while manuals also have a clutch pedal to get used to. Because automatic cars have fewer pedals, they are easier to drive. They are also useful for driving up steep roads like Eastcott Hill, as you won't have to worry about changing gears.
However, an automatic car will cost more to buy and repair compared to a manual. You might also prefer driving a manual as changing gears can give you a greater sense of control.
Manual licences let you drive both manual and automatic cars after passing your test. Automatic licences, however, only let you drive automatic cars.
Have a look at automatic driving lessons to learn more!
Tips for learning to drive in Swindon
You should ideally get 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test, according to the DVSA. Here are some roads you could practise on or explore with your instructor in Swindon:
Rivermead Drive: Rivermead Drive heads towards a quiet industrial estate and can be found by Mead Way. There are two roundabouts on this road and you can use them to go back and forth on the route as much as you like.
Grange Park: Grange Park is full of residential streets where you can get familiar with moving off, stopping, signalling, and clutch control. You can make a good loop around the park by driving down Sudeley Way and Grange Park Way which feature two quiet roundabouts.
Manchester Road: Manchester Road is surrounded by side streets that are ideal for getting to grips with the basics like clutch control and moving off. The streets are straight with simple junctions. However, you should watch out for any parked cars and pedestrians.
Prospect Hill: You can get to Prospect Hill from Edmund Street. It starts to go uphill so it’s a good chance to get to grips with hill starts. It’s narrow and likely to have parked cars nearby so be sure to watch your passing distances.
Thornhill Road: Thornhill Road is a country road heading towards South Marston. It has a solid 30 mph speed limit and is relatively straight aside from one right angle turn. Be sure to reduce your speed and remain vigilant as your view around the turn will be obscured by trees.
Clarence Street: Clarence Street is located near Holy Rood Church. You have the choice of going straight onto Victoria Road or going around Regent Circus which makes the road loop back to where you started. So it’s a safe, repeatable route in a fairly busy area.
Thamestown Drive: Thamestown Drive, or the A4198, is a dual carriageway which is ideal for learning how to switch lanes. When you join the dual carriageway, maintain a safe speed and don’t overtake other cars until you’re used to the new road.
Great Western Way: Great Western Way, also known as the B4289, has bigger and busier roundabouts to try out. There will occasionally be two roundabouts very close to one another, so you’ll definitely be used to them after driving here.
M4: The M4 runs past Swindon which you can take west towards Bristol or east to Reading. Remember that you’ll need to have your instructor with you or have passed your test before you can drive on a motorway, so it’s worth asking your instructor for a motorway driving lesson.
Choosing your test centre
Your instructor will teach you the roads that could come up on the driving test once you’ve chosen your test centre.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Swindon Test Centre | Pass rate: 52.4%
You’ll find Swindon Driving Test Centre on the outskirts of town. There are a variety of roads that could come up on the test, whether it be nearby country roads or dual carriageway systems if you drive further into Swindon.
Address: 1 Fenn Close, Peatmoor, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 5BL
Chippenham Test Centre | Pass rate: 43.1%
Chippenham Driving Test Centre will have both quiet rural roads and busy urban roads in its test routes. You’ll likely come across roundabouts of all kinds and cross-road junctions so make sure you’re prepared.
Address: Unit 11, Cavalier Court, Bumpers Farm, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 6LH
Check out the DVSA page to find your nearest Driving Test Centre.
Test tips from Swindon instructors
1. Take care with roundabouts
Swindon has lots of roundabouts and they are where learner drivers commonly make mistakes. One of the first roads you’ll drive on from Swindon Test Centre is Peatmoor Way which has four roundabouts on it. So be sure to reduce your speed accordingly as you approach each roundabout.
2. Watch out for cars & pedestrians
Bumpers Way will be the first road you are on for your test at Chippenham Test Centre. This road, like other narrow roads you might encounter, will have parked cars and pedestrians to watch out for. So check your mirrors and blind spots regularly for possible hazards.
3. Take a driving lesson beforehand
Having another lesson just before your driving test will boost your confidence. It will help you get over any nerves as you’ll already have been behind the wheel that day. You could use the time for some last-minute manoeuvre practice, or go over any roads you’re worried about.
4. Bring everything you need
You will need to bring your provisional driver’s licence and your theory test pass certificate to your driving test. Your test will be cancelled if you don’t have these with you, and you won’t be able to get a refund.
5. Check out the parking situation
Chippenham Test Centre only has six parking spots available. If you are taking your driving test there, be sure to arrive early to get a spot.
Driving lessons in Swindon
Some of our most popular areas to learn to drive in Swindon include:
Common Platt, Devizes, East Wichel, Haydon, Heavily, Marlborough, Purton, Purton Stoke, Rodbourne and West Leaze.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area of Swindon.