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

Driving like a pro: keeping road safety on track

Passing you're driving test isn't the be all end all in terms of road safety knowledge. Read our top tips from professional racing drivers drivers.

Continue reading

Driving down costs: The price of learning to drive

Obtaining a driving licence can be expensive business. Find out exactly how much it can cost, and how to save money with Aviva's handy guide.

Find out more

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

Contact us

Get in contact with the right person to answer your queries, or just talk to us about how we can help you and your family.

Preparing your home before a storm

With a little preparation you could help to reduce the potential for damage - and save yourself some money and stress in the process.

Aviva Drive

Safer drivers scoring 7.1 or more save an average of £170, a saving that can be achieved by 52% of them.

Back to top