Driving tests: Preston has an ‘L’ of a record as pass masters of the North of England
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But while pass rates here offer plenty to smile about, another survey has revealed drivers in the North West are the unhappiest in Britain based on how enjoyable their journeys are due to potholes, collisions and congestion.
On the test front Preston's instructors helped more than 4,300 drivers pass between April and December last year - more than anywhere else in the country - according to a study by the nationwide Bill Plant Driving School.
The pass rate in the city was a whopping 62.1 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of 47 per cent. The only drawback for learner drivers in Preston is the waiting time to sit a test - as much as 24 weeks, or five months, depending on how busy the test centre is on Chain Caul Way near the docks estate.
"It is a long wait, but we can always try to get that down using special apps to book cancellations," said Vikesh Chauhan, owner of the Easy Pass Driving School in Preston which employs 10 instructors.
"The driving instructors in Preston are obviously doing a great job. To be the best in the North and fifth best in the UK takes some doing. The test centre here is excellent, the examiners are really friendly and the system works really well compared to some other centres you come across."
The total number of practical test passes in Preston in the nine months from April 2022 was 4,368. The top centre nationally was Norwich where slightly fewer - 4,348 people - passed during the same period. It came first in the UK top 10 because learners only had to wait around four weeks to get a test.
A third new survey by Quotezone.co.uk shows that it now costs as much as £2,700 for the whole process of learning to drive. Lessons alone can cost £1,350, based on an average of £30 an hour and an estimated 45 lessons to be test-ready. Add insurance, vehicle tax, test charges (both theory and practical) and a provisional licence and the bill can be astronomical.
When it comes to happiness on the road, Lancashire and the North West isn't doing so well. Motoring experts at LeaseCar.uk crunched the numbers for each region based on factors which are important to drivers for having an enjoyable trip. They found that Wales came top for driver satisfaction based on collisions, pothole claims, traffic volume and the number of road miles in the region.
The North East of England came a close second, followed by Scotland, the East Midlands and the South West. London, known for its congestion and high number of traffic collisions, came low down the table. But the North West came rock bottom with 6,382 pothole claims - more than all but the West Midlands - and a total of 10,061 collisions, beaten only by London and the South East.