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A fortune wasted on failed driving tests

Taking a driving test

More than £60 million was spent in the UK on failed practical and theory driving tests in 2016 alone, according to new research.

The analysis by vehicle finance provider Moneybarn revealed that 1.5 million tests were failed.

The practical test in the UK costs learners £62, and with over a million tests last year, and a failure rate of 53%, £40 million was spent and lost by those hoping to make it onto the open road.

Although theory tests are far cheaper, at £23, learners took some 1.9 million last year and with an overall failure rate of 51%, £20 million was spent on unsuccessful attempts.

Driving test: cost of failure

Practical Theory Overall
Total tests 1,252,864 1,900,202 3,153,066
Percentage failed 53% 51% 52%
Total spend on failed £41,011,078 £22,160,017 £63,171,095

Analysis of statistics from the DVSA has revealed a huge drop in theory pass rates over the last decade, from an average of 66% in 2007/08 to 49% last year.

The drop coincided with multiple changes to the theory test, starting in 2007. The main changes included an increase to the number of questions (35 to 50), the addition of a new case study section with accompanying questions, and test questions no longer being published online.

Testing times

Now the UK is gearing up for major changes to the practical driving test this winter. It is hoped the proposed changes will allow new drivers to get used to all types of roads, including high-speed, so they’re as prepared as possible before driving independently.

Road collisions are the biggest killer of young people, accounting for a quarter of all deaths of those aged 15 to 19.

Learners will also need to prove they can follow directions using a sat nav. This change reflects the fact that 53% of drivers now own one and the DVSA wants to make sure new drivers are trained to use them safely.

The hope is that the changes, which were supported by a public consultation of nearly 4,000 people, will improve road safety and help new drivers adapt to modern technology.

However, given that pass rates went down when changes were made to the theory test in the UK, it’s thought that the changes to the practical test might have a similar impact on pass rates – and money wasted.

“This highlights an interesting trend in theory tests following changes, which could provide an indication of what we can expect from December,” said Simon Bayley of Moneybarn.

“As technology on our roads develops, the tests that allow our drivers on them must also advance. These changes should provide new drivers with the skills and awareness to keep themselves and others safe as transport in the UK goes through a period of transition.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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