Driving Test Center Pass Rates And Regional Trends For Young And New Drivers – Forbes Advisor UK

Learning to drive can open up a world of possibilities, providing the independence to travel more freely for leisure and work.

For many 17-year-olds, getting on the road as soon as legally possible and not having to depend on public transport or family and friends for lifts, is seen as a key milestone as they approach adulthood.

That’s why we’ve analyzed the latest (2021-22) records from the government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, on 297 driving test centers across the UK, to reveal which have the best and worst pass rates.

We’ve also found the areas of the UK where young people (17 to 25-year-olds), and 17-year-olds specifically, are most keen to get their licence.

Finally, we’ve looked at the number of driving tests conducted, and pass rates, during the pandemic, and how these compare to pre-pandemic and post-pandemic figures.

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Which test centers in the UK have the best pass rate?

The prospect of passing a driving test during 2021 and 2022 was most likely in Scotland, with driving centers in the country accounting for 12 of the top 20 positions, and taking the top nine spots. Golspie, in the county of Sutherland, comes first with 77% of all tests resulting in a pass between 2021-22.

In England, Northamptonshire’s Wellingborough has the best outcome, taking 10th place with a 68% pass rate.

The coastal town of Pwllheli, near Snowdonia, tops the chart for Wales in position 16, with two-thirds (66%) of all drivers passing their test.

Which test centers in the UK have the lowest pass rates?

Erith in south-east London has the lowest pass rate in the UK at 28%. Out of the 3,484 driving tests conducted at this driving school during this period, 72% resulted in a fail.

Three different test centers in Birmingham feature in the bottom 10, suggesting this is the most difficult UK city in which to pass your driving test.

All of the test centers in the bottom 10 are in England.

Where in the UK are 17 to 25-year-olds most keen to take their driving test?

As well as reporting the highest number of pass rates, Scotland is home to the highest percentage of driving test candidates aged between 17 and 25. The vast majority (92%) of those tested at Lerwick – the main town and port on the Shetland Islands – during 2021 and 2022 were between these ages.

Chippenham test centre, in England’s West Country, takes second place with 88% of test-takers falling within this age bracket.

Those aged under 25 in London appear to be in less of a rush to get behind the wheel. Nine-in-10 centers within the capital reported the lowest percentage of 17 to 25-year-olds taking their tests. Hither Green, in south-east London, had the lowest figure, at 38%.

Here are the 10 centers with the lowest percentage of 17 to 25-year-olds to take tests:

Where did most 17-year-olds take their driving tests?

While in general, Londoners aged 25 and under might be holding back on taking their tests, there are anomolies.

Goodmayes, north-east of the capital processed 7,231 tests taken by 17-year-olds in 2021-22, which was the highest number across the UK, while the Pinner center in north-west London, saw the second highest number at 5,085.

The Leicester center in Wigston, came third highest (4,125).

However, these centers did not appear in the top 20 for highest pass rates.

The 10 centers with the highest numbers of 17-year-olds to take tests were:

Kevin Pratt, Editor at Forbes Advisor said: “Getting your driver’s license is a rite-of-passage for most young adults. It brings the prospect of independence and freedom, opening job prospects and expanding social horizons.

“But perhaps those in rural areas are particularly keen to pass their test because of the lack of public transport, the expense of cabs, and the desire not to rely on parents or other family members for lifts. This could explain why Scotland dominates the list of test centers where drivers pass first time.

“It is interesting to see that would-be drivers taking their tests in London tend to be older than elsewhere. This could be a signal that young people in big cities – where there are other ways to get about – are happy not to take on the expense and hassle of car ownership.

“Nationally, driving remains key to the lives of millions, and in these times of a cost-of-living crisis, it is more important than ever that costs are kept as low as possible. One thing all newly-qualified drivers should do as a matter of course is shop around for insurance to keep a lid on their premiums. Young drivers pay a lot for their cover because of their inexperience, so it makes sense to find the best deal available.”

How did Covid impact new drivers?

The pandemic caused a significant drop in tests conducted during 2020-21, due to social distancing measures put in place by government, and a pause on tests for all people except critical workers during lockdowns.

Despite this, the pandemic saw record driving test pass rates.

Although there was a 12% dip in the number of driving tests conducted during 2019-20 compared to 2018-19, numbers plunged by a staggering 70% from 2.3 million in 2019-20 to 695,800 in 2020-21.

As the impact of the pandemic lessened, the year 2021-22 saw the number of driving tests conducted increase to 1.1 million.

See the number of driving tests conducted from 2018-19 to 2021-22 below:

Despite the fall in test numbers, pass rates rose during the pandemic. Around 51% of tests taken in 2020-21 resulted in a pass compared to 48% in 2019-20, and 46% in 2018-19, as shown below:

Still, only 358,200 learners got their license in 2020-21, 67% fewer than the 1.1 million in 2019-20, which meant far fewer new drivers hit the roads during the pandemic.

Between 2021 and 2022 the number of new drivers increased to 530,000 but this remains considerably lower than numbers in pre-pandemic years.

How can I get the best car insurance deal as a young or new driver?

Statistically, young drivers particularly prove to be the most high-risk on the roads, prompting car insurers to charge them the highest premiums. This makes it especially important to ensure you shop around for the best possible price.

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Choose from a range of policy options for affordable cover that suits you and your car.