15 tests and counting - are these Britain’s worst learner drivers?

Drivers spending thousands a year on repeated attempts to get their licence

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 4th November 2019, 8:06 am
More than 300 learners sat the practical test at least 10 times in a single year (Photo: Shutterstock)

A growing number of British learner drivers are taking more than a dozen attempts at the driving test, spending thousands of pounds in the process.

Figures obtained from the DVSA under a Freedom of Information request reveal that in 2018 more than 330 people made more than 10 attempts at the practical portion of the test, with 10 trying more than 15 times to get a licence.

With each practical test costing learners between £62 and £75, that means those 10 may have spent as much as £1,125 on their attempts in a single year.

The figures obtained by Hippo Leasing showed that in 2018, a total of 1,692,782 practical driving tests were conducted. Of these, 447,442 learners passed on their first attempt, 13,155 took between six and 10 attempts, 328 took 11-15 and 10 took more than 15 tests.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In 2016 just three people took 15 or more attempts, this rose to seven in 2017, and again in 2018, suggesting a worrying trend of unfit learners repeatedly taking the test.

Falling pass rate

The driving test pass rate fell to a 10-year low last year, with just 45.8 per cent of candidates proving successful.

Only per cent of candidates pass the driving test in 2018-19 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Separate data from the DVSA have revealed the test centres with the best and worst records, and Birmingham’s Pavilion which has the lowest pass rate also saw one candidate take more than 15 attempts at the test, not helping its dismal statistics.

Read More

Read More
Driving test chiefs deny ‘dangerous’ new manoeuvre is behind a 10-year high in failures

Other centres where drivers persevered despite repeated rejections were in London (Chingford, Erith and Hendon); Blackburn; Darwen; Bradford (Thornbury); Cheetham Hill (Manchester); Crawley and Norris Green (Liverpool) each recorded candidates taking more than 15 attempts.

Theoretical mistakes

The data also showed rising numbers of learners having to make multiple attempts at the theory part of the test, with the number sitting it more than 15 times more than doubling from 67 to 159 between 2016 and 2018.

Broken down by area, London and the South East (60) has the highest number of candidates taking 15+ theory test attempts, followed by the Midlands (41), the North of England (39), Wales and the South West (15) and Scotland (15).

Tom Preston, managing director of Hippo Leasing commented: “For almost a century, the driving test has been a rite of passage for many young adults in the UK. But while safety principles have remained the same, the test has frequently adapted to the country's changing roads. Driving tests are designed to be challenging and you're more likely to fail on your first attempt than pass.

“It’s important that learners feel 100 percent ready before signing up to take a theory or practical driving test. Multiple failures can leave learners with huge additional costs and knock their confidence at a vital time in their driving careers.”