In 2013, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency did some research into the average cost of learning to drive in the UK. The outcome of the study (which focused on people who completed the recommended 47 hours of practical driving lessons) was that the majority of new drivers had spent in excess of £1000 on lessons and tests before finally passing their practical driving test. When you consider that most people begin learning to drive at just 17, £1000 is quite a daunting prospect; with an aim to assist learner drivers financially, and to raise the UK’s low first-time pass rate, there may soon be the offer of some help.
Every year, around 1.5 million practical driving tests are conducted. Of these tests, only 21% are passed first time, 26% are second time passes and 53% are failed. The Department for Transport are hoping to increase the rate of first time passes by offering learner drivers cash back on their driving test - if they manage to pass first time. It is thought that this incentive will cause learner drivers to work harder whilst behind the wheel and take more practical driving lessons before entering their practical driving test.
Although some critics have stated that the incentive may simply be to increase pass percentages, the overall opinion is that the scheme should ensure that new drivers are of a higher quality when they pass their test and are therefore less likely to have an accident in their first year of driving. Talking of the proposal, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
“We want to make learning to drive safer and more affordable. This change will give those who pass first time some money back and provide an incentive for learners to be more prepared before they take their test. These common sense proposals mean that all learner drivers can feel the benefit. “
The RAC Foundation have given the proposal their full support, welcoming the potential and change and stating that they “encourage learner drivers to get the experience they need…rather than barely scraping through or failing”.
The proposal is currently undergoing a period of consultation that will come to a close on January 8th 2016. Once the period of consultation comes to an end, the Government will be able to confirm its response. If the scheme comes into fruition we can hopefully expect to see learner drivers gaining more experience before taking their driving test and subsequently less first year accidents due to inexperience.