London in the top five UK cities for learner drivers

The iconic clocks of Big Ben overlooking Whitehall and the Landseer’s Lions of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London illuminated at night.

The best cities for learner drivers have been ranked in a new study – with Manchester named the top spot for those looking for driving lessons, whilst London ranked fifth.

Researchers at A-Plan Insurance analysed over 125 thousand nationwide reviews left for driving instructors and schools in major cities, and assigned each a score out of 10 based on how customers rated their price, patience, confidence, reliability, quality, and performance.

The results show Manchester is the city with the best driving instructors, as it scored highest at 6.1 points out of 10. Reviewers were particularly pleased with how local instructors improved their confidence on the road, and how easy it was to pass their test first time.

The city also boasted one of the highest nationwide scores for instructor quality, meaning the majority of local instructors were rated particularly highly by reviewers.

However, it seems that not all learners in Manchester will have a positive driving experience, as local instructors scored poorly for both reliability and price.

Following behind Manchester as the second-best city for drivers is Leicester, which scored highest for performance, and also scored well for instructor patience.

London took the fifth spot in the ranking, scoring highly for instructor patience and reliability – meaning learners were pleased that their instructors remained composed during lessons, as well as sticking to appointments and communicating any schedule disruptions well.

However, the city needs to improve when it comes to price, as learners felt their instructors were overly expensive – and confidence, with several learners complaining that their lessons didn’t make them feel fully capable on the road.

Each instructor was awarded a quality score based on the proportion of reviews that were rated 4.5+ stars on Google, versus the number of reviews rated 2.5 stars or less.

The price score was determined by the number of reviews featuring keywords like ‘overpriced’, ‘good value’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘expensive’, whilst confidence was determined by the number of positive reviews from nervous drivers who called their instructor reassuring.

Patience was scored based on the number of reviews that praised an instructor’s calmness, kindness or composure, versus those that complained of a rude, angry or pushy teacher.

Instructors were awarded a higher reliability score for reviews saying they were always on time and communicated well, and penalised for cancelling lessons or not replying to texts.

Performance was awarded based on reviews mentioning passing first time or passing generally, but instructors were marked down if any reviewers said they struggled to learn.

Generally speaking, the area that the UK’s instructors score the poorest in is confidence, meaning that anxious drivers might struggle to feel comfortable when learning to drive.

The top 10 cities overall

  1. Manchester – 6.1 /10
  2. Leicester – 5.8 /10
  3. Southampton – 5.7 /10
  4. Leeds – 5.6 /10
  5. London – 5.4 /10
  6. Peterborough – 5.2 /10
  7. Oxford – 5 /10
  8. Cardiff – 4.5 /10
  9. Westminster – 4.3 /10
  10. Sheffield – 3.9 /10

On the other end of the scale, the cities that came out as worst for learner drivers included Plymouth (1.5 out of 10) – largely due to confidence and instructor quality – followed by Newcastle (1.7 out of 10) and Wakefield (1.8 out of 10).

The worst 10 cities overall

  1. Plymouth – 1.5 /10
  2. Newcastle – 1.7 /10
  3. Wakefield – 1.8 /10
  4. Lincoln – 1.9 /10
  5. Sunderland – 2 /10
  6. Lancaster – 2.1 /10
  7. Cambridge – 2.2 /10
  8. Doncaster – 2.3 /10
  9. Stoke on Trent – 2.4 /10
  10. Exeter – 2.5 /10

Speaking on the findings, a spokesperson from A-Plan Insurance said: “Learning to drive can be daunting, and unfortunately it’s easy to rush into lessons without scoping out how well an instructor can meet your individual needs.

“Rushing into lessons with an incompatible instructor will make learning to drive a more stressful experience than necessary, and even significantly delay when you pass.

“The data shows that there’s vast fluctuations in the reliability and quality of instructors, depending on where they’re based – as well as how long they’ve been teaching. However, many learner drivers wind up choosing their instructor solely based on price or availability.

“It’s important to give the same thought to picking a driving instructor as you would when selecting a university, estate agent or bank account, as it’s a pretty important investment.”

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