Nearly 40,000 men made more than 6 attempts at practical driving tests during 2018-2019 and only 16,000 of them passed. That is a pass rate of 41.5% and means nearly 59 out of every 100 men failed.
When it came to the nearly 64,000 women who attempted > 6 times, only around 23,000 passed. This is a pass rate of 35.9% i.e. 64 out of every 100 women failed.
The Driving Standards Agency's figures for recent years show that the traditional advice of 'if at first, you don't succeed, try, try again' does not ring true for some drivers. The pass rate falls the more times candidates sit their test.
It remained steady for the first three attempts, at between 43 to 49 per cent, before falling sharply. It stood at 45 per cent for the fourth attempt and 43 per cent at the fifth go. Just over a third of people taking their test for the sixth time were successful and for people who kept going it kept getting worse.
The figures also show that men are more likely to pass their test than women. One in two male candidates passed on the first attempt, compared with 43 per cent of female candidates.
They maintained their lead throughout the sample. However, women showed the greatest determination to persevere no matter how many times they failed.
There was once an instance where the Driving Standards Agency revealed that a 26-year-old woman had failed her theory test on 90 occasions. It is estimated that the unnamed woman spent nearly £2,800 on the exams.
Details disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act showed that a man in the Midlands had failed the practical test 36 times.
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said that young men typically found the test easier because it only judged their eye, hand and foot coordination, not their attitudes to driving. Andrew Howard, former AA's head of road safety, said there were two probable reasons why the test appeared to become harder after several attempts. The first was that people were likely to be more nervous. The second was that the financial cost of learning meant people took fewer lessons as time went by, making them more rusty on test day.
Those who do pass a test after several attempts are more likely to have a crash during their first year of unsupervised driving, according to recent research at TRL, formerly the Government's transport research laboratory.
Source of statistics: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/driving-test-statistics-drt#car-driving-test-pass-rates-drt02
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