Old driving school car 1947

My dad only needed 10 driving lessons!

Driving test 1950sWell done Dad!

It’s certainly true that thirty – or even twenty – years ago most drivers only took 10 or 15 hours to get them through their test.

But the average number of hours it takes learners to become ‘test ready’ nowadays is, according to the DVSA, 47 hours PLUS 20 hours of private practice. A total of 67 hours altogether. So if your lessons cost £25 per hour you’ll spend over £1000 to get your driving licence where as dad only spent about £100 – driving lessons only cost about £10 then. The good old days!

But why does it take so much longer to pass a test in 2018 than it did in 1978?

It’s quite simple:

    • The test is now 40 minutes, not 25 which is how long it was in the late 70’s;
    • Until 1999 test candidates were allowed to make unlimited ‘driver faults’, and they can now only make 15;
    • The test also involves more manoeuvres. Ask anyone who learnt to drive more than 15 years ago if they can reverse park to test standard, and few would be able to answer with an honest ‘yes’;
    • The test has become progressively stricter, in order to push up driving standards and reduce accidents on the road;
    • The traffic on the roads has increased hugely. At the end of 2016 there were 37.3 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Great Britain, of which 30.9 million were cars. And every year an extra 690,000 cars hit the road.1

Hopefully this explains things, but if you are still wondering then ask your superstar dad:

  • Did he get a lot of private practice? This helps a lot, but due to insurance considerations many people think they can no longer afford to do this. But you can get cheap learner driver insurance if you know where to look!
  • Did he have a moped? This can teach road craft, and provide experience which transfers to car driving and reduces the need for time to build this experience up during lessons;
  • Could he pass the test today? And if the answer is ‘no’, then why not? He should be able to – the driving test is the minimum standard expected of today’s drivers.

So next time someone says to you ‘I only took 10 lessons to pass’ just remember that there are lots of good reasons why it only took ten lessons in the ‘good old days’!

Top 10 driving test facts

The driving test’s been going for 80 years. Here are the top 10 driving test facts:

  1. Mr Beere was the first person to pass the driving test in 1935: he paid the grand total of 7/ 6d (37.5p) to take the test.
  2. There were no test centres in 1935 so you had to arrange to meet the examiner somewhere like a post office, train station or town hall.
  3. The test was suspended for the duration of World War 2 and didn’t resume until 1 November 1946.
  4. In 1975, candidates no longer had to demonstrate hand signals.
  5. The theory test was introduced in 1996, replacing questions about The Highway Code during the practical test.
  6. Driving was much more hazardous 80 years ago – 7,343 people were killed on Great Britain’s roads when only 2.4 million vehicles were in use – in 2008, 2,538 people were killed with 26.5 million vehicles on the road.
  7. Candidates could book their theory test online for the first time in December 2001.
  8. The pass rate in 1935 was 63% compared to 46% in 2009 .
  9. 1969 saw the first driving test set for an automatic vehicle.
  10. Since 1935 more than 46 million tests have been taken.2



  1.  DVSA, Vehicle Licensing Statistics, 2016, p.2
  2. DVSA, History of Road Safety, retrieved Oct 26th 2018.