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Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.

Studies reveal who our safest drivers are

Passing your driving test first time might be a humble brag among friends and family, but does it make you a better driver?

According to the Department for Transport, 50 per cent of male drivers and 42.8 per cent of female drivers who took their practical driving test during 2019/20 passed on the first attempt. 

The number increases slightly on the next attempt, with 50.6 per cent of male second timers and 44.1 per cent of females passing their driving test the second time around. The figures then highlight that 50 per cent of male drivers and 43.3 per cent of females taking their third test passed on that attempt.

So, with stats suggesting you have a pretty equal chance of passing your test on either the first, second or third attempt, do the number of driving tests you take affect the quality of your driving?

Does taking fewer driving tests prove that you are a better driver? Or, do the extra training hours of someone who requires more driving tests actually improve their driving skill overall? Let's find out...

Am I a better driver for passing first time?

While it is a badge of honour for many, being a better driver because you passed on the first attempt is not necessarily a given.

A study conducted by Ingenie suggests that drivers that are first-time passers can become too confident following their early success. It is claimed that they may not drive as safely when compared to those who required multiple attempts.

After studying driver habits using black box data, they discovered that those who took four attempts to pass their test became safer drivers than those who passed on the first go. They believe that learners who failed first time and spent more time practising their driving techniques alongside an instructor go on to become better drivers over time.

They said, "Confidence behind the wheel is great – but over-confidence is thought to be the cause of a large percentage of car accidents, particularly with young drivers. The research shows that the longer you spend behind the wheel, the better driver you become, which means – whether you pass your test first-time or the second, third or fourth time – it’s up to you to be the safest driver that you can be."

For learner and new drivers, there is a fine line between confidence and caution. Being overly cautious is among the top reasons why drivers fail their practical test, with over confidence increasing the risk of collision. 

Stats infographgic

Quick fire driving test stats

  • In all categories, those requiring 6+ driving test were least likely to pass their driving test on that sixth attempt.
  • The age category 17 and under had the highest pass rate irrespective of test attempts
  • Those aged 60 had the lowest pass rate on their first attempt
  • Female drivers have a lower pass rate irrespective of test attempts

Are you more likely to have an accident?

Research from This Is Money suggests there may not be much of a difference between those who pass first time and those who need up to three attempts.

According to their study, drivers who passed first time are involved in 1.6 accidents following their test. Meanwhile, for those who require three attempts, are involved in just 1.9 accidents – reflecting that there is not a huge difference in driving ability or risk based on driving test results.

However, this changes significantly for those who require more attempts: they report that the average driver who takes four attempts to pass is involved in 2.8 accidents after their test.

Drivers who take the test five times have been involved in 5 accidents and 6.6 accidents for those who need six attempts at their practical test.

How long does it take to learn to drive?

How long does it take to learn to drive?

The RAC claim that an average learner driver requires a total of 65 hours of driving to pass their test. They split that between 45 hours of driving lessons with an instructor and an additional 20 hours outside of that, where they can be accompanied by a parent or friend.

This is an average figure, some drivers may require more time and others may need less. Learner drivers should always follow the guidance of their instructors when it comes to booking a test.

According to Admiral, the Citroen C1 is the cheapest car for learner drivers to insure. If you're still searching for your first car, browse our best Citroen C1 lease deals.  

Finding the balance

As mentioned above, confidence behind the wheel is crucial for any driver, regardless of their age. However, what these studies have shown is that finding the right balance between confidence and caution is crucial.

Ultimately, anybody who passes their driving test, whether that is on the first or fifth attempt, has done enough to deserve and warrant their place on the road. Some road users might benefit from the 'real driving experience' in the months that follow their test and become better drivers with time, but that may simply come down to the individual behind the wheel. 

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