A brief history of the driving test

A brief history of the driving test

 

In a bid to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on UK roads, the practical driving test is set to undergo the most drastic changes it will have incurred since its inception in 1935. 

Despite the fact that the number of road collisions has drastically fallen over the course of the last 50 years, and UK roads are now among the safest in the world, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn suggests that “there’s still more that we can do to keep road users safe - particularly newly-qualified drivers.” Statistics relating to road fatalities among young drivers clearly emphasise Llewellyn’s statement; revealing that more than a quarter of all deaths in the 15 to 19 year old age group occur as a result of road collisions1. 

While the 2017 changes will hopefully help reduce the figures further, this isn’t the first time the practical driving test has been amended in an attempt to improve road safety. The fact that the driving test, and past changes to it, have significantly contributed to improving road safety over the past 82 years is undeniable. In 1935, more than 7,000 fatalities1 were recorded on UK roads, even though only 2.4 million vehicles were in use; a figure that could have been partially attributed to the fact that anyone over the age of 17 was able to drive a vehicle, whether they had been behind the wheel before or not. A combination of greater public awareness and education, technological advances and improved infrastructure has, however, brought the number of yearly fatalities on UK roads down to 1,810 in 20162

From the introduction of ‘show me, tell me’ questions in 2003 to ‘independent’ driving becoming a requirement in 2010, we looked at some of the key historical dates that have contributed to improving road safety in the UK and shaped the practical driving test into what it is today.

Infographic: history of the driving test

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Additional sources

1. www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-test-changes-plans-revealed-to-improve-road-safety
2. www.gov.uk/government/collections/road-accidents-and-safety-statistics

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