Americans won\’t believe this but…..

It is actually possible to fail your driving test in the UK.

I know, I know, hard to believe, isn\’t it? And I speak as someone who has twice taken a US test, once in Virginia, once in California (licences only last a few years, that\’s the reason for taking two, not that I failed one).

Where, in the first one, I was in an automatic, backed out of a nose to the wall parking space, got to the road and turned right. To the light, turn right, to the light, turn right, next light, right turn, and, would you believe it, right at the next light and right into the parking lot and parked nose against the wall.

And that was that, the whole practical test. No emergency stop, no left turn (recall, other side of the road, left is the difficult one), no parallel parking, certainly no reversing around a corner nor three point turn.

But here in Jolly England it\’s not quite that simple:

Nearly 300 would-be motorists took their driving test for the 10th time in the past year. Just 88 of them passed.

When it came to the 67 drivers who tried for the 12th time, 11 were successful. All eight people taking their 15th driving test failed.

The Driving Standards Agency’s figures for 2010-11 show that the traditional advice – “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 46 to 47 per cent, before falling sharply. It stood at 44 per cent for the fourth attempt and 41 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.

There was a 30 per cent pass rate at 10 attempts, 16 per cent at the 12th attempt and a 100 per cent failure rate at 15 attempts. Fourteen appeared to be a lucky number for some learner drivers, with a pass rate of 50 per cent.

As they say, there are some people who really just aren\’t cut out to drive cars.

10 comments on “Americans won\’t believe this but…..

  1. “As they say, there are some people who really just aren’t cut out to drive cars.”

    But sadly, it seems they are still allowed on the road (or rather, not picked up and dissuaded from driving) regardless…

  2. I once picked up an Aussie friend from the bus station and drove him to his flat. I parallel parked outside. He accused me of showing off. I asked him had he never reflected on why Poms laugh at Aussie driving.

  3. Oh for the glorious freedom of the Republic of Ireland where (till recently, they may have changed things) a learner driver could drive unaccompanied to the testing station, take the test, fail the test, and drive away unaccompanied …

  4. “As they say, there are some people who really just aren’t cut out to drive cars.”

    Recognisable by their magnificent charleys and absence of a willy, God luv’em.

  5. I took my test at 15 (New Zealand). My driving instructor had a word with his mate the cop, told him what I was weak on, those parts were stricken from the test. Round the block a few times, back to the station and that was it. 9 months later I swapped my restricted licence for a full one with no test beyond “don’t ram the cop cars on the way in” (on the way out is ok, you’ve got more demerits available).

    On the other hand, I’ve had 16 years of incident free driving since.

  6. Whether it is true or not, I don’t know, but I heard a story about a region of Mexico (I think)which abolished driving tests altogether. Apparently, and somewhat counter-intuitively, accident rates actually fell. Presumably this was because nobody trusted any other driver, as they were presumed to be unqualified and therefore just an accident waiting to happen..

  7. Sounds like the Dutch city that got rid of traffic calming devices and had less pedestrians mangled for the same reason.

  8. Boring bugger that I am, my first instinct was to run the cumulative percentage chance of passing/failing. After all, anyone who gives up gets a 0% chance of passing, and you only need to pass once (unless law is broken to the point where you lose your licence, etc, etc) so if you do keep going:

    54% require more than one test.
    28.6% require more than two (so median number of tests would be 2)
    18.3% require at more than three
    10.3% need to keep trying after 4.
    6.1% of unlucky drivers need more than 5.
    3.8% need to go back after 6.
    2.5% fail 7 in a row.

    … and so on to the point where only 0.16% would fail test number 14. So I’d disagree with the headline – try, try again works. Eventually.

    At what point would it be rational to give up, I wonder?

    (mean number of tests required is about 3.1, median is 2, mode is 1)

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