Practical driving test numbers fall dramatically in third quarter of 2020

The number of practical tests taken for the third quarter of 2020 fell considerably as the coronavirus pandemic continued to affect testing.

Some 188,520 practical car tests were conducted throughout the UK between July and September according to new data released today by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), representing a decrease of 53.8 per cent compared with the same time in 2019.

The number of theory tests completed fell too, though not as dramatically. In total, 457,177 theory car tests were conducted in Great Britain, down 8.4 per cent on the same period last year.

Pass rates for practical car driving tests rose, however, moving to 50.1 per cent – an increase of 3.9 per cent on 2019. The DfT believes that this increase is likely a result of ‘priority testing for critical workers, who may have received additional training’.

Pass rates for theory car tests increased by 8.2 per cent on the same quarter in 2019, too, rising to 56.3 per cent.

Simon Williams, RAC spokesperson, said: “The scale of the pandemic’s impact on novice drivers is clear to see. Even with looser restrictions over the summer, the number of practical driving tests was only half what it was in the same period last year.

“Given how important the ability to drive is in enabling people to work, there will undoubtedly be enormous frustration among learners about having to delay the start of their driving careers. For that reason, it’s incredibly important that testing capacity is increased as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

The number of practical motorcycle tests compared with the same period in 2018 was down by 22.3 per cent and 31.7 per cent for practical module 1 and module 2 examinations respectively. However, despite this, there was an increase in motorcycle theory tests of 38.6 per cent compared with 2019. In total, 28,595 theory motorcycle tests were conducted.

The pass rates for module 1 and module 2 were 77 per cent and 73.3 per cent respectively, representing respective increases of 4.9 and 4.7 per cent. The pass rate for motorcycle theory tests was 76 per cent, up 4.9 per cent on 2019’s figure.