July 2019 News Roundup

As we reach the end of July, the summer holidays are well and truly upon us. In the world of driving, though, there’s no time for R&R—there’s a whole month’s worth of news to catch up on! So, whether you’re heading abroad, sticking to a staycation or slogging through work, our news roundup is the perfect summer read.

This month, we’ll start off by covering the long-awaited release of the 2018/19 driving test pass rates. After that, we’ll see why the Department for Transport are considering a graduated licence scheme that could put additional restrictions on new drivers. We’ll then take a look at figures that suggest that driving test fraud is at a record high, before examining why younger drivers could soon be hit with increased insurance premiums. Let’s go!

2018/19 driving test pass rates unveiled by DVSA

DVSA logo

If you work in the driving tuition industry, you’ll know that the month of July can only mean one thing. No, not the start of your hols—the release of the annual pass rate statistics! Yep, on July 4th, the DVSA released the full set of data, giving us not only the overall pass rate, but a breakdown by gender, month and test centre.

The headline figures this year may have made for grim reading for learners. That’s because the overall pass rate for 2018/19 slumped to 45.8%. That’s the lowest percentage since 2008/09, and represents the second consecutive year that the pass rate has fallen. We here at PassMeFast dug a little further, though, to uncover a few more interesting tidbits:

  • As usual, the best-performing test centre in the country lies in the Scottish Highlands—specifically, the Gairloch test centre, with a pass rate of 86.5%.
  • Meanwhile, The Pavilion test centre in Birmingham had the worst record in the country. There were just 903 passes here out of 3,156 tests—a 28.6% pass rate.
  • The gender gap widened slightly this year from 7.0% to 7.2%. Pass rates amongst women slipped to 42.4%, while male pass rates fell to 49.6%. This marks the first time they were below 50% since 2010/11.
  • In happier news, this year’s candidates set a new record for zero-fault passes. In fact, no fewer than 10,247 passed their test without even a single minor fault!

Many media outlets have blamed the lower pass rate on the introduction of the ‘pulling up on the right’ manoeuvre in late 2017. The clamour has been such that the DVSA issued a rebuttal, asserting the manoeuvre’s safety, and noting that poor observation at junctions remains the top reason for candidates failing tests.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be examining this year’s stats in greater detail. So, stay tuned to the PassMeFast Blog!

DfT considers graduated licence scheme

Plans under consideration by the Department for Transport could see new drivers banned from driving at night

At present, when a driver passes their test here in the UK, they automatically gain all the same rights as any other motorist. However, that could soon be changing. That’s because, on July 18th, the Department for Transport announced that they were reviewing ways to make the road safer—including a graduated licence scheme.

The scheme would see restrictions placed on drivers during their first few months after passing. This may include banning new drivers from being on the road at night or in the early hours of the morning, as well as placing limits on the number of passengers they are able to carry.

Though similar schemes have been proposed in the past, they’ve often faced a backlash from a public which sees such measures as draconian. However, the government has noted that one in five drivers crashes in their first year after passing, and that a graduated licence scheme may help to ease them into the world of driving without an instructor. Such schemes already operate in Sweden and New Zealand, as well as certain areas of the USA, Canada and Australia.

There’s no sign that the changes will be immediate, with the DfT pledging to conduct further research and consultations before introducing any new scheme. Nonetheless, should the government adopt these plans, we could be looking at a very different way of learning to drive within the next few years.

Driving test fraud hits record high

driving examiner marking a practical test sheet

The driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience for even the most confident amongst us, and it’s understandable that many of us may just wish that they could skip the whole thing. Worryingly, though, it seems that an increasing number of learners have done exactly that. That’s because, according to figures unearthed by BBC Scotland, driving test fraud is at an all-time high.

According to statistics from the DVSA, there were 889 cases of driving test fraud in the UK in 2018/19. This represents a more than fivefold increase on the 158 cases in 2004—though the DVSA noted that part of the reason for the rise was better detection of cheating.

It’s believed that some learners may be paying up to £800 for an impersonator to take a theory test for them, or £1,600 for the practical test. It’s worth noting that this would easily be enough for a learner to pay for enough lessons to pass legitimately.

If you are still tempted to try your luck, the results could be dire. Mark Dunnery of the DVSA stated that detection was improving every year, and that, if caught, “the chances are that you’ll go to prison”. Scary stuff! If you’d prefer to be behind the wheel than behind bars, find your ideal driving course by giving our course recommender a whirl.

Premiums set to rise for younger drivers as discount rate raised

Photo © Pictures of Money (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Younger drivers can often expect to be stung with some of the most expensive car insurance premiums around. Things may be about to get even worse, though, thanks to a Ministry of Justice-driven change in how compensation payments are calculated.

It all has to do with what’s known as the Ogden rate. This is used to calculate the amount of compensation an insurer pays out in personal injury cases. The higher the Ogden rate, the less an insurance firm needs to pay out.

This month, the Ogden rate rose from -0.75% to -0.25%. As a result, insurers will need to pay out smaller lump sums than was previously the case. However, the industry had expected a larger rise in the rate. As a result, it’s expected that most firms will increase insurance premiums. Mohammad Khan, from PwC, estimated that an average premium “will probably increase by between £15 and £25 but younger drivers may see their premiums increase by about £50 to £75”.

News in brief

  • Travelling abroad this summer? New research suggests that many motorists heading across the Channel are unaware of certain key French driving laws (RAC)
  • In an effort to get drivers to obey the speed limit, a Merseyside resident has crafted a ‘police scarecrow’ with a mock speed camera (Liverpool Echo)
  • A Swindon man received a three-year driving ban for being found drunk behind the wheel of his mobility scooter (Swindon Advertiser)
  • Luton Magistrates Court handed out a £1,400 fine this month to a learner who tried to cheat on his theory test with a Bluetooth device (Luton Today)
  • Finally, in New South Wales, a learner driver was fined $3,000 for trying to smuggle 29 goats in his vehicle (NZ Herald)

That’s all for this month’s news roundup—but don’t despair! If you’re looking for a little driving-related inspo, check out our July 2019 pass photos and customer reviews. Until next time, happy driving!

By Andy Boardman

Andy has been part of the PassMeFast Blog team from the very beginning. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on the way to his next destination.

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