The DVLA has shared statistics which show where the hardest and easiest places to pass a driving test are in the UK, based on data collected from 2015 to 2016. Interestingly, just 48% of the 1.3 million driving tests conducted each year were passed. At a cost of £62 per test, this means that Britons are spending a staggering £42 million a year on failing their driving tests.

While this appears quite lucrative for the DVLA, it’s worth remembering that it has to fund the operation of 380 test centres across the UK, including 2,000 examiners. The DVLA also has to fund the services it provides for the UK’s 46.5 million driving licence holders.

Based on the DVLA data, the most difficult places to pass include Glasgow City, Greater London, and Bedfordshire. The worst pass rate in the country is in the West Midlands, at just 39.8%.

The DVLA has also shared information about the test centres with the lowest pass rates. Many of these are in Greater London, including Belvedere (with a 28% pass rate), Wanstead (32% pass rate), and Barnet and Erith (both with a 33% pass rate).

It is unsurprising that the lowest driving test pass rates are found in areas with higher congestion, more complex road signage, and a greater number of potential hazards to look out for, while higher pass rates are more common in rural areas. The places that are more likely to see driving test success are the Orkney Islands, Shetland, Northumberland, and Powys, with the top three driving centre pass rates being found in the Highlands: Golspie (80%), Mallaig (77%), and Ullapool (76%).

Further data analysis shows that males are more likely to pass their practical driving test, whereas females are more likely to pass their theory test. Furthermore, 48% of learner drivers pass their practical test the first time, while a further 25% pass on their second attempt. Just 2% of those who pass first time round do so with no faults.

At the other end of the scale, 2% of learner drivers take six or more tests before they are awarded their driving licence.

Driving test changes on the way

There are plans in place to change the format of practical driving tests later this year to include longer independent driving sections. The changes means that those taking their test will be required to use a sat nav to show that they are capable of doing so. This is in line with changes in the way that people are now driving due to the introduction of this technology.

The revised tests will also see the elimination of certain manoeuvres, such as reversing around a corner and turning in the road. They will be replaced by more relevant, day-to-day manoeuvres, like safely driving in and out of parking spaces.

The government has also proposed that learner drivers should be able to drive on motorways with their driving instructor, in a dual-controlled car, to give them experience on this road type before they pass their test.

An overwhelming 79% of motorists stated that they thought this would be a good idea in a survey carried out by the RAC, with 78% saying that they thought it would improve the ways that new drivers use the motorway network, and just 3% believing that it would have a negative effect on driving standards.

However, this may not be practical to include as a mandatory part of a driving test, due to many learner drivers living nowhere near a motorway and therefore not having easy access to one for lessons.

With these aspects to consider, it does seem that learning to drive in a rural area has its advantages, certainly when it comes to passing a practical driving test. However, this may not prepare drivers for those times when they do head into areas with higher congestion.

Do you think the driving test has got easier or harder over the years? Do you welcome plans to update the driving test to include sat navs and parking safely? Let us know in the comments below.

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