Passing the practical driving test is significantly harder in the West Midlands than any other UK location, according to analysis of test results from the DVSA.
The average for the region was just 40% – well below the national pass rate of 48% from the 1.3 million tests conducted last year.
Prospective drivers in Greater London, Greater Manchester and Bedfordshire also struggled, with average pass rates of just 41% and 44%.
The test centre in Belvedere (Greater London) had the lowest pass rate in the UK, at just 28%, and Manchester-based centres in Cheetham Hill, Salford, Rochdale and the appropriately-named Failsworth, conducted more than 20,000 practical tests last year with an average pass rate of only 36% between them.
By contrast, car finance provider Moneybarn – which carried out the research – found that thousands of UK residents appear to benefit from doing their tests at more rural centres.
In England, Cumbria and Northumberland had two of the highest national averages in terms of pass rates just shy of 60%. Areas in Scotland such as the Orkneys, Shetlands and Scottish borders all showed a combined pass rate of 64%.
The results in more rural areas correspond with a British trend since 2007/08 of an improvement in practical test results, which has seen the annual figures rise from 44% to 48% last year.
Toughest places in the UK to pass the driving test
Average pass rate: 2015/16
It’s thought the overall pass rate rise is because the DVSA has not caught up with technology available in many learner cars, and during a test. Blind spot monitoring, speed limit detection and collision warning systems, which are all becoming standard on modern cars, have skewed practical tests results in the UK in recent years.
All that may change later in 2017 when the practical test in the UK is set for a shake up with four major changes. These include:
- Increasing the test’s independent driving section from 10 to 20 minutes
- Asking you to follow a sat nav’s directions during the ‘independent driving’ section
- Replacing the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ with manoeuvres such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay to demonstrate more likely day-to-day driving scenarios
- Allowing learners on to motorways
“Whilst, the average national pass rate has increased by 4%, built up areas are still showing themselves to be particularly difficult for learners, whether it’s because of extra traffic, complex road signage, or added pressure in a busier environment,” said Shamus Hodgson, MD of Moneybarn.
“It will be intriguing to see if this remains the case, once amendments are made to the practical test later this year.”