Learning to drive can be stressful – so stressful, in fact, that some even turn to hypnotherapy to calm their nerves ahead of their tests. Journalist Alix Buscovic failed four times – something she put down to nerves – before undergoing hypnosis to help her face her fears. Her concerns aren’t entirely unfounded: 2014-2015 statistics from the UK government showed that women were more likely to fail driving tests than men. A female 17-year-old driving test candidate was 7% less likely to be passed on her first attempt than a male candidate of the same age. This figure more than doubled to 15% for those taking their first test at the age of 20, and increased to 25% at 30, 41% at 35, and 50% at the age of 50. These discrepancies contradict success rates of qualified drivers, which show that men are more likely to have accidents than women. Could this be because we had more practice at the learning stage?
All the same, the risk of failing is enough to make learners concerned, and gender isn’t the only factor involved. The location where you take your test can also affect how well you do. Figures from the UK Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for 2013 to 2014 showed that the average pass rate was 47.1% across the country, but candidates were almost 15 percentage points more likely to fail if they tested in Belvedere in the London borough of Bexley. A wider pattern was observed whereby pass rates in rural areas were higher than those in urban locations. Of the top 10 centres with the lowest pass rate that year, five were in London. This is possibly because rural areas are smaller and candidates have the chance to learn most of the surrounding roads before taking the test, thus leaving room for fewer surprises. In contrast, the centre in Belvedere which had the highest failure rate in the country for instance, is surrounded by residential roads with narrow lanes as well as higher speed A roads such as the A220 and A206. Now, new research is suggesting that academic acumen is another factor that could determine how well people perform during driving tests. According to new research conducted by insurers Privilege DriveXpert, people who have a degree or post-graduate qualification are more likely to have a higher number of failed driving tests than people with no GCSEs. This conclusion was based on theanalysisof 1,564 people with a full UK driving licence and found that 59% of those with no qualifications passed on their first try. This figure fell to 51% for those with A-levels. Among the A level cohort, the study also found that people with “creative” personalities who specialised in the arts at A-level and above needed 1.9 attempts to pass their tests, compared to mathsand science students who took the test an average of 2.3 times before passing. Pass rates fell further as academic achievement increased: people holding undergraduate degrees had a first time pass rate of 48% and those with post-graduate qualifications had a first time pass rate of 47%.
Charlotte Fielding, head of Privilege DriveXpert said: Passing first time isn’t the be-all and end-all of driving ability as many of the main skills we need to equip ourselves for our driving careers are learned over the years as our experience on the roads builds. This research demonstrates a link with academic and professional success and passing the driving test. If you’ve tried and failed, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Statistics also show that people are waiting longer to learn how to drive – a 2016 study by car sales companyAuto Trader and driving school RED found that the average age to start driving has been pushed back to 26. It seems more and more young people are waiting longer to get in the drivers’ seat, so as long as you’ve put your foot on the pedal, you’re doing okay. Hang in there and you’ll be cruising down the highways in no time!
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