Increased Driving Test Pass Rates Reported During Covid Period

Last Updated: 02/07/2021

Latest figures recorded for driving test pass rates show that across the United Kingdom, half of all tests taken during 2020-21 resulted in a pass. Indeed, in the first three months of 2020-21, as many as 59% of learner drivers who entered the test achieved a pass!

One explanation for the record level of passes is the quieter roads due to Covid deterring people from using their vehicles. In addition, the heightened desire of key workers to take their test given the priority applied to this group, appears to have contributed to the record rates.

In the Warrington Test Centre in 2020-21 for example, a pass rate of 62% compared to the previous year of 54% was achieved. Of the 1.603 practical tests undertaken there, 991 were successful.

Jane Robinson, owner of the Mini School, a driving school, told the Warrington Guardian what she thought might be behind the increase in pass rates.

She said: ‘‘It could be that learner drivers are putting absolute maximum effort in, including extra professional driving lessons with their Approved Driving Instructor, as they know the waiting list is longer than it’s been in a very long time and they certainly don’t wish to join the end of it. ‘‘It’s been a tough year for learners, instructors and examiners but things are gradually settling down.’’

Another Warrington based driving school owner, John Earps of John’s Driver Training gave his take on the increase. He said: ‘‘The main reason I think people have been passing is that many have either their own cars, or parents have been letting them use their cars for extra practice during Covid.

‘‘Me personally, I’ve seen a lot more of my pupils who have their own car or access to a car succeed first time. I’ve even taught more in their own cars. Extra practice is essential and also they have more responsibility if it’s their own car as well. I’ve also noticed more people at the test centre taking tests in private cars. The Covid lockdown has led to huge waiting times to even book a test and the majority of instructors are full.’’

During the period 2020-21, practical tests across the country dropped from 1.6 million the previous year to 437,000. Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: “The slight increase in the driving test pass rate for the first quarter of this year could be down to a number of things including quieter roads during tests.

In addition, during lockdowns, tests were only allowed for key workers who needed to drive for their job, this probably also goes some way to explaining the higher pass rate during these months as the candidates would have been incredibly motivated to pass.”

April, 2021 saw the resumption of practical tests across the country, but a long queue awaits learners of at least three months as there were already nearly half a million tests booked in according to the DVSA.

To try to reduce the length of time learners have to wait for a test, the DVSA has been recruiting examiners, with a total of 300 more needed to keep test centres open seven days a week.