For many, the most exciting thing about turning 17 is not the presents or even the cake – it is the green provisional driving license that comes through the post.
Passing their test and finally being handed a pink photocard – to mark the transition from learner to skilled driver – is what many spend their teenage years dreaming about.
So the question of where one is most likely to pass their test first time becomes an important one for any budding young driver – and unfortunately for those in Barnet, they may have to travel a little further up the M1.
Figures seen by seen by the Times Series reveal 17 to 25-year-olds taking their test in Watford are more likely to pass first time than in any other centre in the area.
The statistics show 53 per cent of candidates sitting on a manual and automatic car passed the test between 2011 and 2012 passed first time.
Pass rates through the Barnet boroughs are relatively low – at 40 per cent in Hendon and 45 per cent in 41 per cent in Mill Hill.
Owner of driving school 001 Academy, Steven Davis, said: “In Barnet, you are faced with going through heavy traffic at all times which can be very off-putting to someone who is a bit nervous on the roads.
“Through the Hendon routes, you have to go through the A41 which people who are yet to pass their test may not feel comfortable going through and panic.
In contrast, only 49 per cent of people who took their test on the Borehamwood route – through Radlett, Elstree and Shenley – passed first time.
Test routes through Pinner have a high rate of people passing on manual and automatic cars, at 51 per cent.
Mr Davis was surprised by the figures for Borehamwood as he believes students find the route more “rural and comprehensive”.
However, instructor Athar Abbas, who owns Dynamic Driving School, says many candidates are put off by Borehamwood and roundabouts and high speed limits.
Mr Abbas, who has been teaching people to drive for seven years, said: “The roads in Pinner are a lot easier to manoeuvre, especially if you are quite nervous.
“The maximum speed limit is 50mph and there are no dual carriageways making the roads so much calmer, so to speak.
“In Borehamwood, you have all those things and candidates are expected to go right up to 70mph which is national speed limit. That can put some people off.
“I am surprised Watford has the highest pass rate as a lot of my students have been put off going there, because the roads are similar to Borehamwood.
“But then of course there are the students that are just eager to drive regardless of where they pass their test, so they pick the centre with the lowest waiting time.”
In England, people are legally allowed to learn to drive when they turn 17 as long as they pass a theory test first.
University student Lee Klein chose to take his test in Mill Hill.
The 19-year-old, who passed two years ago, said: “There are a lot of country lanes in Borehamwood and that put me off.
“Even failing my test in Mill Hill the first time did not put me off. It just seemed like a route which was much more straightforward.
“Passing the second time around taught me to be a more cautious driver.”