If at first you don’t succeed … country’s most persistent learner drivers

As the old adage claims, those in pursuit of success need only an endless supply of persistence.

But several learner drivers in the UK took the “try, try again” mantra to new levels, according to data from the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

A couple of wannabe motorists, whose enthusiasm to pass was seemingly matched only by their consistent ineptitude behind the wheel, racked up at least 20 practical tests in a single calendar year.

Data showing the number of attempts at the practical car driving test, by the 10 most prolific candidates every year between 2009 and 2018, showed each took until at least their 13th test to pass.

Most attempts at practical car driving test by a candidate in a single year
Most attempts at practical car driving test by a candidate in a single year

Rules mean a learner has to wait 10 working days between failing and taking their next test.

In 2016, one driver passed on their 21st attempt that year, while a learner in 2018 had 19 failed times before being given a full licence.

In 2009, 2015 and 2017, a learner driver took 19 tests in one year – and failed them all.

The figures, released to PA under Freedom of Information laws, showed the 10 most prolific learner drivers every year from 2009 to 2018 failed a median average of 15 tests each.

In five of the 10 years, the most prolific test candidate ended December without having passed their practical exam.

DVSA’s chief driving examiner Mark Winn said: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving.

“Candidates should only attempt their test when they’ve gained a broad range of experience and are ready to drive safely and independently.

“Anyone who fails their driving test has to wait at least 10 working days to take another. This ensures the candidate has time to undergo additional training and improve any faults noted by the examiner before they take their test again.

“To prepare people better for driving safely on our roads, we changed the driving test in 2017 so that it reflects real-life driving.”

Separate data from the DVSA showed the car driving test pass rate was 45.8% in the year 2018/19, the lowest figure since 45.3% in 2008/9.

Some 18,922 learners passed the practical test with zero faults in 2018/19, up from 18,410 the previous year.