The driving test centres around the UK where you’re most likely to pass or fail the exam

The driving test centres around the UK where you’re most likely to pass or fail the exam
The driving test centres around the UK where you’re most likely to pass or fail the exam

Driving test pass rates have fallen to a 10-year low in the last year, with some people blaming changes to the test introduced in late 2017.

According to figures from the DVSA, only 45.8 per cent of candidates pass the practical portion of the test in 2018-19. But that data hides huge differences between test centres, with pass rates ranging from an impressive 62 per cent to an embarrassing 28 per cent.

Birmingham has the dubious honour of being the city with the worst learners in the country. Two of its test centres – The Pavilion and South Yardley – are in the top three for the lowest pass rates. The Pavilion is the only test centre in the country where less than 30 per cent of candidates pass the test – with a 28.6 per cent pass rate.

Behind it is Speke, in Liverpool, where just 32.5 per cent get their licence, and South Yardley with a pass rate of 32.8 per cent.

Manchester and London also turn out far more failures that the national average.

Bottom 10 test centres in 2018/2019

#

Test Centre

Pass rate %

1

Birmingham (The Pavilion)

28.6

2

Speke (Liverpool)

32.5

3

Birmingham (South Yardley)

32.8

4

Erith (London)

33.0

5

Belvedere (London)

33.2

6

Rochdale (Manchester)

34.2

7

Barking (Tanner Street)

34.5

8

Bury (Manchester)

34.6

9

Wolverhampton

34.7

10

Luton

34.9

Top performers

At the opposite end of the spectrum, learners in England’s south-west are the most likely to get their licence, with Dorchester (62.4 per cent) and Yeovil (61.9 per cent) in first and second places for the highest pass rates.

Northallerton, Ipswich and Durham complete the top five centres with the highest pass rates, with at least 60 per cent of candidates getting their licences.

Read more: Major mistakes – the most common reasons for instant driving test failure

The data obtained by finance provider Moneybarn through a Freedom of Information request shows that, overall, built-up urban areas tend to have lower pass rates, with quieter rural test centres having a higher number of positive results.

Top 10 test centres in 2018/2019

#

Test Centre

Pass rate %

1

Dorchester

62.4

2

Yeovil

61.9

3

Northallerton

61.8

4

Ipswich

60.1

5

Durham

60.0

6

Bridlington

58.3

7

Newtown

58.3

8

Ashfield

58.2

9

Barry

58.0

10

Chorley

57.5

More challenging conditions

It has been suggested that this could be because when test centres are in more congested areas, there’s a higher likelihood of candidates facing challenging moments when driving. There are also more distractions on busier roads, higher concentrations of traffic and complex intersections to navigate.

Observers have also suggested that there may be social factors which affect the pass rate disparity. Bigger, urban test centres are usually in areas where more people are on lower incomes. This may mean they have taken fewer driving lessons before their tests, which could be a contributing factor to the lower pass rates.

Tim Schwarz, head of marketing at Moneybarn, commented: “Although the pass rate has lowered slightly, making certain elements of the driving test more challenging demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving road safety.

“The changes are also more representative of what new drivers will encounter in their everyday driving, with a greater focus on a candidate’s ability to drive safely and responsibly, as well as ensuring they have good knowledge about driving theory and the vehicle itself.”

Previous studies have looked at figures for every test centre but the Moneybarn data only looked at centres which processed at least 1,000 tests to avoid anomalies thrown up by remote centres which see tiny numbers of candidates each year.

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