Driving test 80th anniversary

But it’s much tougher to pass today

Budget 2015 - AA welcomes fuel duty freeze

Budget 2015 - AA welcomes fuel duty freeze

1 June 2015 is the 80th anniversary of the driving test. But, time hasn’t made it any easier to pass.

The driving test became compulsory in the UK on 1 June 1935, although tests started being conducted on a voluntary basis a few months earlier.

BSM, which launched in 1910, helped the government develop this first compulsory driving test and the examiners were initially drawn exclusively from BSM staff.

The first test cost just 7 shillings 6d (37.5 pence) and lasted only half an hour. Old video footage like that below from FordHeritage also gives an insight into early driving tests.

Pass rates lower today

The pass rate for the test was 63% and around 246,000 candidates applied to take it. In the past year, 2014-15, government statistics show that 47% pass, 50.6% among males and 43.8% among females. There were 1,124,600 tests taken in that period.

The first to pass

The first person to pass their test was a BSM pupil, Mr Ronald Beere, on March 16th 1935 (before the test became compulsory).

Passing my test at 17 in a Hillman Avenger is still a vivid memory for me and was a catalyst for me to travel, explore and work abroad

Edmund King, AA president

Massive motoring milestone

Edmund King, AA president, which owns BSM, says: “The introduction of the compulsory driving test on June 1st 1935 was a massive motoring milestone. For most people growing up, the great early achievements in life are learning to walk, talk, cycle, swim and drive. Learning to drive broadens our horizons and independence. Passing my test at 17 in a Hillman Avenger is still a vivid memory for me and was a catalyst for me to travel, explore and work abroad.

“The AA and BSM were both involved in those early days of motoring 80 years ago. BSM, which launched in 1910, helped the government develop this first compulsory driving test and the examiners were initially drawn exclusively from BSM staff. The first test cost just 7 shillings 6d (37.5pence) and lasted only half an hour. The first person to pass their test was a BSM pupil, Mr Ronald Beere.

Evolved

“The driving test has evolved a lot over the last 80 years and I am sure it will continue to do so. We salute the 80th anniversary of the driving test.”

we also work with the DVSA and Department for Transport to update and improve the modern driving test

Mark Peacock, head of BSM

Mark Peacock, head of BSM, said: “We are very proud of our long history at BSM and our close association with the driving test. Today, we continue not only to teach people to drive but we also work with the DVSA and Department for Transport to update and improve the modern driving test.

“There are differences between the old test and the way we teach learners now. However, some of the basic manoeuvres remain the same.”

#drivingtest80

As part of the 80th anniversary celebrations DVSA are hoping to collect anecdotes from a wide variety of people via social media about what passing the driving test meant to them. Individuals can share what it meant to them to pass their driving on Twitter or Facebook page with the #drivingtest80 when the campaign launches on 1 June.


(1 June 2015)