The worst places to pass driving tests revealed

Written by AMT Team

3 December, 2019

For more than 80 years, passing a driving test has been a rite of passage for many young adults looking to enjoy independence on the road. There are numerous factors which affect the likelihood of passing your driving test, including the number of lessons, driving instructor competence and confidence on the road. But one factor many don’t take into account is the location – and whether some learners are at a significant disadvantage based on where they take their test.

Practical driving tests have already been through some changes in recent years, with reversing around corners and three-point turns removed in December 2017 and driving with a sat nav and longer test duration introduced. Despite statistics suggesting that the changes to the theory test have had a greater impact on pass rates than amends to the practical side, it’s important to establish what really affects pass rates – especially as the UK government plans to help young drivers better adapt to driving after ditching their L plates.

Our analysis looks at pass rate data over the past decade to reveal the worst locations to pass a driving test in the UK, to shed light on why only a third of people manage to pass their driving tests in some towns and cities. 

 

The research reveals that the town of Speke, close to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, has the lowest average pass rate in the UK over the past 10 years. Just 34.8% of people taking a driving test walk away with their certificates.

Areas with 10 worst average pass rates over the past decade:

 

Rank

Location

Pass rate 

1

Speke, Liverpool

34.8%

2

Leeds, West Yorkshire

35.3%

3

Wednesbury, West Midlands

36.5%

4

Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire

38.3%

5

Bradford, West Yorkshire

38.4%

6

Chaderton, Greater Manchester

39.1%

7

Colchester, Essex

39.2%

8

Coventry, West Midlands

39.5%

9

Rochdale, Greater Manchester

39.8%

10

Luton, Bedfordshire

39.9%



In comparison, the area with the highest pass rate is the tiny village of Gairloch in the Scottish Highlands, where 73.0% of people taking a test get to throw away their L-plates. From April 2018 to March 2019 alone, the village had a staggering 94.7% pass rate.

 

In fact, rural Scotland accounts for eight of the 10 areas with the highest pass rates. The two exceptions are Llandrindod Wells in Mid Wales (third place with 69.0%) and Malton in North Yorkshire (10th with 64.8%).

Areas with 10 best average pass rates over the past decade:

 

Rank

Location

Pass rate 

1

Gairloch, Wester Ross, Scotland

73.0%

2

Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

71.1%

3

Llandrindod Wells, Powys, Wales

69.0%

4

Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

68.9%

5

Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

67.8%

6

Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

67.4%

7

Islay, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

67.3%

8

Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

67.1%

9

Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland

66.1%

10

Malton, North Yorkshire

64.8%



The question remains as to whether it would be best for these locations to focus on improving their pass rates, by looking into exactly why learners fail. 


In a road safety action plan published by the government in June, 74 actions were set out to reduce the number of people killed or injured on UK roads.

Part of these actions is targeted through a new campaign which encourages learner drivers to spend more time practising in different road conditions. The three primary areas of improvement were named as driving on country roads, driving independently, and driving in the dark. Key takeaways from the report are:

 

  • 19.4% of learner drivers said they’d spent less than two hours practising on country roads, while a further 10.3% said they’d never practised on country roads. 
  • 17% of learners said they’d never practised driving in the dark.
  • 1 in 5 newly qualified drivers is involved in a collision within their first year of driving.

 

According to Brake, young drivers (aged 17-24 years old) are at a much higher risk of crashing than older drivers. Although drivers aged 17-19 only make up 1.5% of UK licence holders, drivers in that

Driving test pass rates by gender, 2009-2019

This raises questions as to whether it would be prudent to alter driving tests to focus more on safety in order to reduce the number of accidents caused by inexperienced drivers. Among the top ten reasons for failing a driving test are ‘observations at junctions’, ‘failing to check mirrors’ and ‘failing to move off safely from stationary’ – all of which can have devastating consequences on poorly-lit or low-visibility county roads.

Ian Wright, Head of Leasing at AMT Group, said: “The fact that learner drivers fare so poorly in busy towns and cities, but tend to pass more in rural areas and small towns, shows how tricky busy roads can be in modern traffic. 

“Having to negotiate so many other vehicles – the drivers of which can be impatient – together with multiple lanes and complex junctions is sure to trip up learners on their tests. 

“These statistics suggest that those learners who can might fare better by travelling to more rural test centres to learn the road, rather than just the closest.”

At AMT, safety on the road is paramount, so we ensure that we deliver a quality service that’s tailored to you. If you’re looking for a new lease vehicle or want to know more about the safety technology available on popular models, contact our dedicated team on 0113 387 4241 today.

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