Pass rate for driving tests remains too low despite millions being taken

Learner driver

Drivers who pass their test is less than 50 per cent

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 23/06/2024

- 09:49

1.9 million practical tests were taken in the year to March

The number of motorists who passed their driving test has fallen this year despite millions of tests being undertaken.

According to the Department for Transport, more than 1.9 million practical tests were taken in the year to the end of March.

The pass rate, however, was lower with only 47.9 per cent of tests resulting in success compared to 48.4 per cent the previous year.

During this time 3,033 new driving instructors were registered, the second highest amount since 2011.

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young driver in car

Average waiting time for a driving test is 17.8 weeks


RAC senior policy officer Rod Dennis said: “Looking at these figures, it’scrystal clear just how important learning to drive is for so many people.

“While the number of practical tests being taken is greater than ever – thanks to efforts to reduce the Covid backlog – we know from our own research the huge extent to which people depend on being able to drive, whether that’s to get to or from work, to see friends or family, or to do the shopping.

“It’s also positive that last year saw the second highest number of new driving instructors registered since 2012, something that is still very much needed to deal with the pent-up demand post-pandemic.

“The good news for would-be drivers is that the waiting time for practical tests is coming down – from an average of more than five months last August to just over three at the start of this year.”

Dennise added that the RAC hopes the rate will continue to fall, making becoming a qualified driver a reality for many more people.

Driving tests were delayed during the pandemic, which caused huge backlog problems for motorists eager to take their test.

According to a Freedom of Information request, the average waiting time for a driving test at the start of February was 14.8 weeks but has since risen 20 per cent to 17.8 weeks in May.

The data also found a 33 per cent rise in the number of test centres with waiting times of more than five months with experts warning that “enough is enough”.

At the start of May, most test centres had average waiting times higher than pre-pandemic numbers, which was roughly six weeks.

The research revealed that over half (51 per cent) of UK test centres have seen average waiting times increase this year, while only a fifth (20 per cent) have seen an improvement.

Last year, the DVSA said it would increase the length of time candidates who fail the test must wait before they can book another from 10 days to 28 days.

The move aimed to encourage new drivers to wait until they are ready to pass their test.


A driving test booking screen and a learner plate

Drivers must wait 28 days to rebook a driving test


Looking at the data by region, 71 test centres had an average waiting time of 24 weeks between February 5 and May 6.

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