New research shows top reason for learners failing their driving test

Passing your driving test can be tough. On average, not even half of motorists pass their test first time, with the pass rate hovering at around 48 per cent.

They are tough for a reason - to make sure learner drivers are safe enough to take to the nation's roads. There are numerous ways one can fail, but passing can lead to decades of happy motoring and freedom.

New research has shown the most common reasons why people have failed their driving test for the last five years - as well as the top 10 hardest driving test centres to pass at.

  • The most common fault in car driving tests since April 2018 has been inadequate observation at junctions.

  • Speke emerged as the most difficult driving test centre in the UK during 2023. Out of 9398 tests conducted, only 3106 resulted in passes, yielding a pass rate of just 33.05%.

  • The average pass rate for the 289 driving test centres in ACTRONICS LTD’s study was 50.27%.

Electronic car part remanufacturer, ACTRONICS LTD analysed data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to reveal the top five faults made in car driving tests since April 2018.

The most common fault in car driving tests since April 2018 has been inadequate observation at junctions. Failing to properly assess the road and check for oncoming traffic, pedestrians, and cyclists before entering or crossing junctions has been a prevalent issue among test-takers.

The second most common fault involves improper use of mirrors during changes of direction. Neglecting to check mirrors before signalling or changing lanes, turning, or overtaking has been a frequent issue, leading to missed hazards and potential collisions.

Difficulties with turning right at junctions rank as the third most common fault in car driving tests. This includes errors such as misjudging gaps in traffic, failing to position the vehicle correctly, or neglecting to yield to oncoming vehicles.

Poor steering control comes in as the fourth most common fault. This encompasses issues such as crossing hands while steering, oversteering, or failing to maintain a consistent course, which can compromise vehicle control and safety.

Failing to move off safely from a stationary position rounds off the top five faults in car driving tests since April 2018. This fault includes inadequate observations before pulling away, stalling the vehicle, or neglecting to signal appropriately, highlighting the importance of executing the moving-off procedure correctly.

DVSA data also shows which out of 289 UK driving test centres were the hardest to pass at during 2023.

Hardest driving test centres to pass at

Speke emerged as the most difficult driving test centre in the UK during 2023. Out of 9398 tests conducted, only 3106 resulted in passes, yielding a pass rate of just 33.05%. Following closely behind, Wolverhampton secured the second spot on the list of toughest driving test centres. With 14561 tests conducted, only 4818 candidates managed to pass, resulting in a pass rate of 33.09%.

Featherstone proved to be another formidable location for driving tests, ranking third in difficulty. Out of 12417 tests, 4265 resulted in passes, yielding a pass rate of 34.35%. In the heart of London, Belvedere emerged as one of the toughest places to secure a driving licence. With 3490 tests conducted, only 1234 candidates managed to pass, resulting in a pass rate of 35.36%.

Wednesbury claimed the fifth spot on the list of hardest driving test centres. Out of 7960 tests conducted, 2904 resulted in passes, resulting in a pass rate of 36.48%. Another London-based centre, Chingford, secured the sixth position in terms of difficulty. With 14381 tests conducted, only 5251 candidates managed to pass, resulting in a pass rate of 36.51%.

Norris Green in Liverpool maintained its position as one of the hardest driving test centres. Out of 12864 tests conducted, 4702 resulted in passes, yielding a pass rate of 36.55%. Rochdale emerged as one of the toughest places to pass a driving test outside of London. With 6941 tests conducted, only 2575 candidates managed to pass, resulting in a pass rate of 37.10%.

Crawley, situated in the South of England, proved to be another challenging location for driving tests. Out of 6595 tests conducted, only 2477 resulted in passes, yielding a pass rate of 37.56%. Rounding off the top 10 list, Leicester's Cannock Street test centre presented considerable challenges for aspiring drivers. With 14382 tests conducted, 5447 candidates managed to pass, resulting in a pass rate of 37.87%.

A spokesperson for ACTRONICS commented, “To put these figures into perspective the average pass rate for the 289 driving test centres in the study was 50.27%. And the driving test centre that had the highest pass rate was Arbroath in Scotland, out of 560 tests 413 people were successful resulting in an overall pass rate of 73.75%.”