THE DRIVING test: the very words can strike fear into a learner driver’s soul, yet we’d all agree that it’s an essential part of motoring. In the year of its introduction, 7,343 people were killed in car accidents with just 2.4m vehicles on Britain’s roads. Today there are more than 35m cars on the road and yet there were only 1,775 reported deaths in 2014.
Of course, vehicle safety has improved immeasurably over the years but driver education and testing has certainly played its part in saving lives.
Do you know when the driving test was first introduced? Scroll down for the answer.
The driving test was introduced in 1935. Volunteers started to be tested on March 16 of that year in order to lessen the burden when it became compulsory, less than three months later, on June 1.
Approximately 246,000 candidates applied — 63% of whom passed (against around 50% today) — with between nine and 16 half-hour tests being conducted each day by a total of 250 examiners.
Examiners checked the applicant’s driving licence (which came in well before the test, in 1903, as a means of identifying drivers and their vehicles) and insurance documents before carrying out a basic eye sight test. Then drivers were tested on the Highway Code, with questions including the correct use of arm signals (this was before standardised light indicators, of course).
Then came the practical test, with the examiner watching for correct signals and road courtesies, as well as checking manoeuvres such as stopping, starting, hill starts, making an emergency stop, reversing and carrying out a turn in the road.
The first person to pass the test was Mr R Beere, at a cost of 7/ 6d (about 38p). The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency estimates that more than 46m tests have been taken since 1935.