Driving test pass rate unchanged in Milton Keynes despite pandemic
Impressive figures, considering the difficulties of learning in lockdown.
The driving test pass rate did not change in Bletchley during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show – despite it reaching record levels across Great Britain
Quieter roads and "incredibly motivated" key workers taking their tests are thought to be behind a rise in the pass rate across Britain in 2020-21.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) data shows that of 2,292 practical tests at Bletchley Test Centre in 2020-21, 954 ended in success – a pass rate of 42%.
That was at the same level as the previous year.
However, far fewer tests were undertaken at Bletchley Test Centre over the latest period due to Covid-19 restrictions, which saw only key workers permitted to take tests during the enforced lockdowns.
In total, there were 2,292 driving tests in 2020-21 – compared to 9,030 in 2019-20 – with 4,791 cancelled due to the pandemic.
Across Great Britain a record 50% of tests in 2020-21 resulted in a pass, with the figure even reaching 59% between January and March this year.
Meanwhile, the number of tests dropped to 437,000 in 2020-21, from 1.6 million the previous year.
Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: “The slight increase in the driving test pass rate for the first quarter of this year could be down to a number of things including quieter roads during tests.
"In addition, during lockdowns, tests were only allowed for key workers who needed to drive for their job, this probably also goes some way to explaining the higher pass rate during these months as the candidates would have been incredibly motivated to pass."
Mr Cowell said that demand for driving tests is now "sky-high" due to the number of cancellations last year, adding many people are facing a frustrating wait.
Practical tests resumed in April, but learners face a waiting time of more than three months to book a test with 470,000 already pencilled in across Great Britain, the DVSA said.
The body has launched a recruitment campaign for 300 examiners while tests are being done seven days a week to allow 20,000 to go ahead every month.
Asked if an increase in the national pass rate was down to quieter roads, the DSVA said traffic levels are regularly reviewed to ensure traffic is at a sufficient level to test a candidate's ability.
It also said the reduction in tests could have impacted the overall rate.
Loveday Ryder, DVSA chief executive, said: "All candidates are assessed to the same level and the result of their test is entirely dependent on their performance on the day."
The data also showed the rate of success for people taking their driving test for the first time.
At Bletchley Test Centre, 534 out of 1,318 people passed on the first attempt in 2020-21 – 41%.
That was below the national average of 51%.