First qualified drive

Drivers reveal where they drove after passing their test

24 February 2012

Drivers reveal where they drove after passing their test

Drivers reveal where they drove after passing their test

Most newly-qualified drivers shun social journeys for their first drive after passing their driving test, according to AA Driving School.

An AA/Populus survey of drivers shows the joint most popular first-time trips were driving home (18%) and those who just wanted to drive ‘anywhere’ (18%).

The high number of motorists who said they drove home after passing their test is concerning and AA Driving School advises people not to drive home after a test as they may lack concentration.

However, almost a third (29%) of drivers aged 65 and over said they drove home compared to just 8% of younger drivers, aged 18 to 24, which indicates it has become less acceptable to drive home after a test over time.

Around the block

The second most popular journey was a confidence-boosting drive around the block (16%).

And one in six (15%) jumped behind the wheel to drive themselves to work, college or school.

Only one percent of drivers said their first drive without ‘L’ plates was on a night out or to go to a cinema, restaurant, pub or bar.

That first drive after passing your test is a milestone for every driver, embarked on with a mixture of excitement and trepidation

Mark Peacock, Head of AA Driving School


Mark Peacock, head of AA Driving School, said: “It’s very surprising so many drivers said they drove home for their first trip when it is not advisable to do so because it’s hard to concentrate when you’re that excited. But, it’s good news younger drivers are less likely to do this, indicating it’s a habit new drivers are losing.

“That first drive after passing your test is a milestone for every driver, embarked on with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

“For most people, their overriding memory is a feeling of great independence and they couldn’t wait to get out on the road as soon as possible, regardless of where they were going.

“That so many drivers choose to use that first trip to get themselves to work or school highlights the practical benefits of having a driving licence. It really is an essential life skill.”

Daunting prospect

The first time you get behind the wheel of a car as a qualified driver can be a daunting prospect and for most people remains a strong memory.

AA Driving School research shows that 60% of new drivers stick to journeys of less than 10 miles for their first outing. But 16% are confident enough to tackle journeys of more than 100 miles. One person questioned even managed a 200 mile journey.

First drive memories

  • Successfully completing a 4-mile round trip to the local shop but then waving to the family on the driveway at home, ‘forgetting to brake’ and driving into a small garden wall.
  • The day after passing the test, driving 5 miles to the local shops and parking, only to realise too late they had forgotten the handbrake and the car was rolling down the hill. Luckily help was on hand from a passer-by and the car was secured before an accident.
  • Going for a joint drive with a friend in separate cars but not getting very far after bumping into each other when turning round in the cul-de-sac they lived in.
  • Feeling uncertain driving 2 miles to the shop to buy some milk for the first time; but it being a much stronger memory than the test itself.
  • Celebrating the excitement of passing by driving from London to Birmingham but also discovering nerves after being overtaken on both sides by lorries, while in the middle lane of the motorway.


Department for Transport statistics show that 1 in 5 drivers are involved in a crash during their first year on the road.

New drivers are effectively ‘on probation’ for their first two years as a full licence holder under the New Drivers Act. If you reach six or more penalty points in that time, you’ll lose your licence and have to re-take your test.

  • It’s best not to drive home after passing your test – you’ll be so excited you may lose concentration.
  • For your first drive try a route you know well so you avoid getting lost.
  • Wait until you feel confident without an instructor beside you before taking friends as passengers.
  • Remember you have the skills to drive safely – so be confident.
  • Switch your phone off.
  • Keep the radio volume down to aid concentration.
  • Take a few moments to get used to being on your own the first time you get in a car to drive by yourself.
  • If you feel nervous about motorway driving, wait until you’ve had a motorway lesson with a qualified instructor before attempting them.

(24 February 2012)

AA/Populus polled 20,659 people between 19-25 January 2012