The pass rate fell to just 45.8% for 2018/2019 – down from a peak of 47.1% in 2016/2017, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reveals.
But while media outlets laid the blame for this slump on a so-called ‘dangerous new manoeuvre’ included in the test, the DVSA have since revealed drivers are failing for other reasons.
The pass rate plunge follows the introduction of a new practical driving test in December 2017, which saw the “turn in the road” and “reverse around a corner” manoeuvres scrapped.
In their place, the test now includes a 20-minute independent driving section along with two additional “show me, tell me” questions and a new “reversing your vehicle” manoeuvre. Drivers are asked to pull over to the right-hand side of the road and reverse for around two car lengths, before re-joining traffic.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Rob Harper, chair of the Association of Approved Driving Instructors labelled this new element as dangerous.
He added: “We have had lots of complaints from instructors, learner drivers and members of the public, who aren’t used to seeing people doing it.”
The DVSA defended the changes and said learner drivers actually make fewer faults on the new manoeuvre compared to other reversing moves.
According to the DVSA, the top reasons for failing a test are not looking properly at junctions and not using mirrors effectively when changing direction. Mark Winn, chief driving examiner, said the agency’s main priority is to help all motorists through a lifetime of safe driving.
“Candidates should only attempt their test when they’ve gained a broad range of experience and are ready to drive safely and independently.”
He added: “Anyone who fails their driving test has to wait at least 10 working days to take another.
“This ensures the candidate has time to undergo additional training and improve any faults noted by the examiner before they take their test again.”