June 1, 2010

75 years since the driving test was introduced

It was 75 years ago that the compulsary UK driving test was introduced. Nearly 250,000 people applied to get their licence from just 250 examiners who each assessed up to 16 drivers per day. The pass rate was 63 per cent.

Fast forward to 2010 and things have changed somewhat. Our road network has expanded vastly to cater for the 28.3 million cars using it each day (up from 1.4 million in 1935), while pass rates have dropped to 44 per cent.

Cars too have progressed hugely, not just in terms of speed or safety, but increasingly in their fundamental componenets: means of propulsion, transmissions and a proliferation of electronic driver aids place a completely different set of demands on today’s motorists.

Amidst all of this changes to the test itself have been relatively small. Training of examiners has become more stringent, more classifications have been identified for different classes of vehicle and since 1996 would-be drivers have been made to complete a theory element alongside the traditional practical one.

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