Driving test at 80: 10 fun facts

The British driving test is 80 years old today. It became compulsory in the UK on 1 June 1935, and around 50 million tests have been taken since then. Can you remember yours? Were you unlucky enough to take it more than once?

Here are 10 factoids you probably didn’t know about the driving test, courtesy of breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist.

80 years of the driving test: everything you need to know

1: The pass rate in 1935 was 63% compared to 47% in 2014

During the first year of compulsory testing, 246,000 candidates attempted the driving test at a rate of seven shillings and sixpence. The pass rate was 63%.

Today, the driving test costs £62 on a weekday and £75 at weekends, evenings and bank holidays. It includes a 10 minute independent driving section, introduced in 2010, and candidates must have previously passed a theory test (which costs £25).

2: Gairloch in Scotland has the highest pass rate in the UK

If you’re struggling to pass your driving test, you might want to try taking your test in Scotland. The highland village of Gairloch has very little traffic, no roundabouts on the test route and a pass rate of 93.8% in 2014.

Last year, just 16 people took their test in Gairloch. Only one of them failed…

80 years of the driving test: everything you need to know

3: Scotland too far? Try Cumbria

Outside Scotland, Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria boasts a pass rate of 65.5%. Whitby in North Yorkshire follows closely behind, with a pass rate of 65.4%.

4: Belvedere in London has the lowest pass rate

Driving in congested London is a challenge for even the most experienced driver, so we don’t envy anyone taking their driving test there.

Belvedere, in south east London, has the lowest pass rate in the country. Less than a third of candidates pass their test here.

80 years of the driving test

5: Ozzy Osbourne took 19 attempts to pass his driving test

Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne finally passed his driving test on his 19th attempt in 2009. He put previous failures down to his struggle with alcohol, joking that he turned up at the test centre with a bottle of vodka in his pocket.

Straight after being given his pass certificate, he headed to a Ferrari dealer to his dream car. He then promptly crashed it into a lawyer.

6: Arm signals were dropped in 1975

Bizarrely, the highway code (and therefore the theory test) still includes arm signals. Would you know how to indicate that you were slowing down, if your brake lights weren’t working?

You won’t be asked to demonstrate arm signals in your practical test, though. These were dropped in 1975.

80 years of the driving test

7: Pass Plus was introduced in 1995

Should the driving test include things like motorway and nighttime driving? It’s a great cause of debate, but currently these things aren’t included in the practical test.

For those wanting a little more training before hitting the road on their own, they can take part in the optional Pass Plus scheme. As a bonus, many insurance companies offer discounts to people have completed the programme (which takes a minimum of six hours).

8: The average theory test pass rate is 51%

The theory test is made up of two parts. The multiple-choice test, made up of 50 questions relating to the highway code, can take up to 57 minutes. To pass, the candidate needs to get 43 out of 50 questions correct.

The second part is the hazard perception test, introduced in 2002. Candidates have to watch computer generated clips and click the mouse as a hazard develops.

80 years of the driving test

9: The record number of driving tests taken stands at 36…

There isn’t a limit on the amount of times you can take your test, but if you’ve still not passed on your 36th go, it might be time to admit that driving is not for you.

An unnamed 40-year-old man from Stoke on Trent spent a whopping £2,294 on driving tests alone before finally passing his test on the 37th attempt last year.

10: …While the record number of theory tests is 113

A 30-year-old woman from Southwark has failed her theory test an incredible 113 times. That means she’s spent an incredible £3,500 attempted to pass her theory – before even being allowed to attempt the practical.

According to the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), women are six percent more likely to pass their theory test – while men are six percent more likely to pass the practical test.