Learning to drive in Sheffield: motorists talk hill-starts, potholes and cost of lessons

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The hills make it tricky, the roadworks make it worse, and there's been a real gear change in the price of lessons nowadays

There are one-way systems to drive you round the bend, tiny spaces that make parking a pickle, plus potholes to shake your confidence and suspension.

We asked The Star readers what it's like learning to drive in Sheffield. Photo: PAWe asked The Star readers what it's like learning to drive in Sheffield. Photo: PA
We asked The Star readers what it's like learning to drive in Sheffield. Photo: PA

And if the hill-starts don't put the brakes on your motoring ambitions, then the cost of the lessons definitely will.

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We asked Star readers what it's like to learn to drive in Sheffield these days - and the consensus was clear.

The hills make it tricky, the roadworks make it worse, and there's been a real gear change in the price of lessons nowadays.

Mastering hill-starts a must

Celeste Pettifer was one of the many who referred to Sheffield's steep inclines which make mastering hill-starts a must.

"Hill-starts were the first thing I did on my second lesson outside my house," she said. "Clutch control was more of a problem.

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"Then my instructor played a 'game' making me hold the car on the clutch for 10 seconds at the top of every uphill Give Way.

"I had to do 10 in a row. If we rolled back we went back to one. It took me a two-hour double lesson but I cracked it eventually!"

Amp Tramp shared the same memory, saying: "I had that on Myrtle Road in 1970! After five I didn't make a mistake, ever!"

Luke Williams said: "You'll get proficient at hill-starts, put it that way!" and Zoe Ireland agreed, saying: "You certainly get to know how to do a hill-start!"

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'So happy I kissed the examiner!'

Victoria Sigsworth said: "My daughter had to drive round the city as soon as she had passed but she hadn't learned here. She said she could never master hill-starts - until driving in Sheffield!"

Lindsay Bailey said she passed her test third time lucky in 1968 and was 'so happy I kissed the examiner!'. "Learning in Sheffield means that clutch-control is key due to all the hills!" she laughed.

Mohammed Ali dubbed learning in Sheffield 'hill-arious' while Susan Mason said driving lessons were difficult, "until you get clutch control".

Robert Wiseman said he learned to drive 32 years ago, and spent most of the lessons 'going round every street in Sheffield'. "I imagine it's a lot easier now, mainly because everywhere is one way!" he joked.

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"So, technically, if you can drive straight, you'll pass in a week!"

'The best driving instructor around'

Alex Robertson said she found passing easy 'with the best driving instructor around' - Keith Robertson of Woodhouse. "People still say he was the best 30 years on," she remembered.

Eileen King and Martyn Wiley, who learned to drive cars 43 years ago and buses 37 years ago, both said they wouldn't want to take tests today.

"The way supposedly experienced drivers speed, tailgate, cut in and use the horn to move people out of their way is not only dangerous but selfish," said Eileen.

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"They think they own the road. Patience is not in their mindset. Driving around Sheffield you spend your time watching out for the idiots and moving out of their way."

Angela Fowler was of a similar mind. She said: "I passed my test in 1988. I feel sorry for anyone nowadays wanting to learn, because of potholes, red lights not flowing, roadworks everywhere."

'The real test is dodging potholes'

Shell Cole said she doesn't drive, "but if I did I assume it's not good as there's always roadworks".

Louise Carey agreed, saying: "With all the roadworks I imagine it's a nightmare".Leanne Jules added: "The real test is dodging potholes."

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Mollie Mae said driving in Sheffield city centre at the moment is 'a complete nightmare'.

"The roadworks are terrible and if you're driving at busy parts of the day you will be at a standstill for most of the journey," she said. "My commute to work has doubled in the past few weeks."

Big rise in cost of driving lessons

Lots of fans who responded on The Star's Facebook feed referred to the cost of driving lessons these days.

Denise Blackburn sad her dad was a driving instructor in 1955 when lessons cost 10 shillings an hour, while Jayne Grayson said she has just booked a course of 10 lessons for her soon-to-be 17-year-old which have set her back £340. "I haven't had driving lessons since 1988 so I had no idea how much they are - back then they were £7.50 an hour!" she said.

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Driving instructor Robert Weston said driving lessons still represent value for money but agreed they have gone up. "When I learned in the 1980s it was £6 per hour and £6 for the test - now it's £62 for a test. So, at £35 a lesson, prices haven't risen as steeply in 40 years as the DVSA charges," he said.

But James Blower thought driving lessons should be even more expensive than they already are. "In my opinion they should up the fees for learning, up the fees for taking the theory, and up the fees for taking the practical - that way it will reduce the number of idiots on the roads," he suggested.

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