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Happy 80th Birthday to the driving test!

By Kyle Linsay
Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:40

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How many attempts did it take before you passed?

GEM Motoring Assist provide a few fun facts to help us mark this occasion.

UK driving licences were introduced by the Motor Car Act 1903 but back then no test was required. Legislation for compulsory testing was introduced for all new drivers with the introduction of the Road Traffic Act 1934 – staggeringly the test was initially voluntary to avoid a rush of candidates and this continued until 1 June 1935 when all people who had started to drive on or after 1 April 1934 needed to have passed the test.

Over the 80 years since its introduction, testing has been suspended twice – once during World War II and again during the Suez Crisis in 1956 to allow examiners help to administer petrol rations.

The driving theory test was introduced in July 1996 as a written examination which was updated to a computer-based test in 2000 and a hazard perception test was introduced in November 2002.

10 fun facts about the driving test

  • 246,000 candidates put themselves forward for a driving test in 1935, the first year of compulsory testing. The fee was seven shillings and sixpence, and the pass rate was 63 per cent.
  • Today, the test centre with the highest pass rate is Gairloch in Scotland. In 2014, 16 people took their test here and just one failed, giving a pass rate of 93.8 per cent.
  • Outside Scotland, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, boasts the highest pass rate of 65.5 per cent.
  • Belvedere in London lays claim to the lowest pass rate, with merely a whisker over 30 per cent of candidates finding success.
  • Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne took 19 goes to pass his driving test.
  • It was only in 1975 that candidates could complete the test without the requirement to demonstrate arm signals.
  • In 1995, Pass Plus was introduced to offer further post-test training.
  • The average pass rate of the theory test is just 51 per cent – that’s down from 65 per cent in 2007.
  • The record for the number of tests taken currently stands at 36
  • A 26-year-old woman from Southwark, London, failed her theory test at the 90th attempt in November 2010 – meaning she forked out nearly £3,000 before even gaining the right to sit a practical test.

How many attempts did it take before you passed the test? Let us know in the comments below (FYI, I passed mine first time – Editor)

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