Happy 80th birthday GB driving test! Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon praises ‘innovative’ rite of passage

Today marks the 80th birthday of the Great British driving test and Transport Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has praised what it has achieved.

The first person to pass the test in 1935 was Mr R Beere, who paid a 37.5p fee, compared to the £75 price-tag for a peak-time test today.

Since then around 50 million tests have been taken in Great Britain.

Lord Ahmad said:The driving test is a significant rite of passage, giving greater freedom and independence to generations of people across Britain.

“This country has a proud tradition of leading innovation and the driving test is just one example of us continually improving, making our roads some of the safest in the world.”

Some elements of the original test including reversing and turns in the road have stood the test of time, but testing candidates’ hand signals came to an end in 1975.

The separate theory test was introduced in 1996, and the hazard perception test in 2002, which has been credited with an 11% reduction in crashes.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Chief Executive, Alastair Peoples, said: “The driving test has adapted over the years to stay up to date with modern driving, and we continue to keep it under review to ensure it is as relevant and effective as possible.

“We have already made the test more representative of real life driving by requiring candidates to show they can drive safely without constant directions from their examiner.”

The pass rate in 1935 stood at 63%, but fell to 47% in 2014.

Picture courtesy of David J. Morgan, with thanks

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