The lead up to your driving test can be a nerve-wracking time. You’re certainly not alone – drivers have needed to pass a test to prove their driving ability since 1934, meaning that everyone to get behind the wheel of a car in the past 85 years has been in exactly the position you are today!
The test itself has changed a lot over the years, to reflect changes in our road network, vehicle standards and modes of navigating. Separate driving theory tests were first used in 1996, with the further addition of the hazard perception test in 2002.
In 2010, the independent driving component of the test was added, and since 2017 use of a sat nav device has also been assessed.
What has remained the same, though, is the worry that the aspiring driver feels about whether or not they will make the grade.
So what are your chances? Well, since 2014, the average pass rate across the UK has been around 47%. This can be further broken down in a number of ways, for instance, by gender: the average pass rate for men is around 50% whilst for women it is a little over 43%.
However, both men and women saw their chances improve by an additional 3% between 2008 and 2016, and statistics show that over 1,500,000 people are taking their test every year, so that’s still a lot of new drivers on the roads!
Your chances can also be affected by geography.
Recent figures show that the current place with the highest pass rate is Farnborough on the south coast, with a pass rate of 54.1%. Scottish learners also seem to get lucky – in 2015/16, 88% of those who took their test on the Isle of Mull passed, although its worth bearing in mind that, as an island with a very small population, only 19 people actually took the test during that year.
There is an argument that rural learners tend to take the test on roads that are much quieter and more predictable than busy urban streets, and may, therefore, be more likely to pass. However, the flip side of this is that those drivers then don’t get experience of the range of driving conditions that you meet when driving in a town or city, which could leave them less prepared in the future.
One great advantage of learning here in South West London and Surrey is that you can gain exposure to both urban city roads and quieter, more rural driving during your lessons.
Here in South West London and Surrey, the statistics more or less reflect the national picture.
There is some variation in pass rates between test centres.
For example, 3,856 drivers took their test at Tolworth test centre last in the year from April 2018 to March 2019, with around 51% passing, so above the national average.
The pass rate in Croydon was a bit lower, with around 40% of the 3,487 who took their test passing. Other centres tend to fall somewhere in between, with West Wickham, Morden, Sidcup and Hither Green all coming in around the national average of 47%.
It’s important to remember, though, that these are just numbers.
Ultimately, the best thing that you can do to be prepared for your driving test is to listen to your instructor’s advice as to whether you are in fact ready to take the test, get plenty of practice in, and take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves before the test begins. Good luck and happy driving!