October 2020 News Roundup

Happy Halloween, readers! In a year that’s given us more than its fair share of tricks, we’re hoping this roundup will be a real treat. To start proceedings this month, we’ll look at stats from the DVSA revealing the year’s top test centres, before examining the impact of the new lockdown measures in different parts of the country. We’ll then weigh up the road safety arguments for abandoning daylight savings time, review some theory test stats, and finish with our monthly Highway Code tip. Let’s go!

Best and worst test centres in 2019/20 finally revealed

Aylesbury driving test centre
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Normally, the DVSA releases its annual test centre stats in June, and we get straight to poring over a year’s worth of data. This year, however, things understandably got held up a little. That’s why we were even more excited than usual when the figures came out this week!

The top story, of course, is the revelation of which test centres saw the highest and lowest pass rates in 2019/20. It was no real surprise to learn that a Scottish test centre came out on top yet again, with the Isle of Mull seeing an impressive pass rate of 88.2%.

On the other end of the scale, England’s biggest cities were found bringing up the rear once more. In fact, the lowest-scoring test centre was the same as in 2018/19: The Pavilion in Birmingham. This test centre saw a modest bump year-on-year, but not enough to save it from closure.

Other important figures included the number of first-timers who passed with zero minors: a record high at 10,375. And, as with any 2020 news story, COVID-19 made an appearance: the number of tests cancelled in March alone due to the pandemic hit 85,171. That’s more than the number of cancellations for all other reasons combined across the entire year.

Want the full stats? Read our guide to Britain’s best and worst test centres of 2019/20. And stick around as we unveil more interesting data in the weeks to come!

What impact have new measures had on drivers?

COVID-19 graffiti in Warsaw
Image source: Adam Nieścioruk (via Unsplash)

With the near-normality of summer receding, many parts of the UK have seen coronavirus-related restrictions spring back into life. Both England and Scotland are now subject to tiered systems, while Wales has entered a sharper ‘firebreak’ lockdown. So, what does all of this mean for drivers?

Those living in Wales are subject to the toughest restrictions of all at the present time. Most notable amongst these are a temporary ban on all driving lessonspractical tests and theory tests. If you were due to take your test in Wales during the ‘firebreak’ period, up to November 9th, then this will not go ahead. Welsh residents are also asked not to drive anywhere to exercise, and to avoid car sharing with other households.

In England, driving lessons are allowed across all three tiers. Those living in tier 3 areas should not travel out of the area unless necessary (e.g., for work), while drivers across all tiers are advised against car sharing with those outside of their household or support bubble.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, driving lessons are allowed in protection levels 0, 1, 2 and 3, but not in level 4. At the time of writing, no local authority areas in Scotland are in level 4, though North and South Lanarkshire may enter these measures soon. Those living in level 0, 1 and 2 areas are advised against non-essential travel to higher risk areas (levels 3 or 4 or equivalent), whilst those living in level 3 or 4 areas are advised not to leave their local area.

Does daylight saving time save lives?

A clock showing 12.20am
Image source: Djim Loic (via Unsplash)

It’s now been a week since the clocks went back an hour. Not everyone, however, is pleased with the change. Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart argues that instead of going back to GMT, we should have scrapped the October change and instead move our time forward permanently by an hour.

Their proposal is to use BST (GMT+1) during winter months, rather than summer. During summer, a ‘double British summer time’ would instead be in force—two hours ahead of GMT. Meanwhile, RoSPA argues for permanent usage of BST, with no clock changes.

Switching time zones forward would, they estimate, save 80 lives per year. That’s because the current system sees darker afternoons in winter. Concurrently, accident rates rise between 3pm and 7pm during months with shorter days.

Additionally, pedestrian and cyclist deaths in November and December 2019 were 5% higher than in the two months before that year’s clock change. These figures are backed up by research from the RAC Foundation, who found that collisions were 19% higher in the fortnight following the October clock change. It remains to be seen if the Government will act on the proposals.

Shock new data reveals some scored 0 on the theory test

© Crown copyright (Open Government Licence)

By now, most of us are well aware that the theory test isn’t as easy as it was once cracked up to be. In fact, pass rates for the test have stayed stubbornly below 50% in recent years. Still, even we were shocked when we learned that, in 2019, hundreds of candidates scored zero marks on the multiple choice section.

A new breakdown of the figures showed exactly how many people failed either the hazard perception or multiple choice section of the theory test. It turns out that it’s the multiple choice section that trips up far more learners. Out of 1.91 million tests taken, 52.8% passed the multiple choice section, while 83.5% passed hazard perception. This doesn’t take into account, however, the numbers who passed one section but not the other, which would result in a fail overall.

The figures also give us an interesting glimpse into some of the more extreme results. No fewer than 279 candidates scored a grand total of 0 on multiple choice. This is even more worrying when you realise that even clicking randomly would, on average, see you score around 12 out of 50. Meanwhile, 1,746 candidates got 0 on hazard perception. At the other end of the scale, a 21,712 test-takers got all their multiple choice questions right, while just 18 got 75/75 on hazard perception.

Highway Code tip of the month

Desert view from a car window
Image source: Eddy Billard (via Unsplash)

This month’s Highway Code tip is short and sweet, and concerns what to do before moving off. Rule 159 states that you should:

  • Use all mirrors to check that the road is clear
  • Look around to check your blind spots—any areas you can’t see in your mirrors
  • Signal if necessary before moving out
  • Look around for a final check
  • Only move off if it is safe to do so

That’s all for our October news roundup! Wherever you are, we hope you’re staying safe in these difficult times. Why not brighten your day with our top pass photos and reviews of the month?

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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