Driving test failures: try, try and try 155 times again?

We're open for business, with safe delivery options available. NHS benefits available. Coronavirus notice Read more

Alternative text 4.9 out of 5 22,103 reviews

Mon to Fri: | Sat:

Driving test failures: try, try and try 155 times again?

The unnamed 42-year-old man, based in England, finally ditched his L plates at the 158th attempt.

The country’s second biggest failure, a woman in her 30s, still hasn’t managed to pass her test despite an incredible 117 attempts, and with driving theory examinations costing £23 a time to book through the gov.uk website, that’s racked up a bill of around £2,700 without even earning her a pass certificate.

The costs could be even higher if booked via outside parties.

The depressing driving stories have come to light through figures obtained by the UK’s leading leasing company, Select Car Leasing. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted to the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed how it’s a bumpy journey for some luckless learners to hit the road legally.

Britain’s most ill-fated practical exam taker, a 72-year-old Englishman, needed 43 attempts to finally make the mark.

With fees for behind-the-wheel tests being £62 on weekdays and £75 on weekends, that means the persistent pensioner shelled out up to £3,225 to finally be able to drive on his own.


The next most dogged would-be motorist, a 47-year-old woman also from England, still has not passed after 41 tries – a bill of £3,075 so far in vain.

Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing, said: “It’s true what they say: If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again.

“Passing your driving test can be one of life’s trickiest challenges and it can take some of us many more attempts than others.

“A three-point turn might be your downfall, or perhaps you forget to check your mirrors before making a move.

“It could be that you haven’t remembered the correct stopping distances or even what basic roads signs mean.

“But whether you fail your test once or 157 times, there’s no shame in picking yourself up and having another go – and anyone who can do that deserves great credit.

“The key is to stay calm on the day and give yourself the best chance of nailing every signal and manoeuvre – and piece of theory – so you can drive off safely with a satisfying pass certificate.”


The figures are for the period from November 7, 2010, to June 30, 2020 – the latest data available.

The DVSA – who also revealed the pass rate for practical driving tests in 2019/2020 was 46 per cent – would not release the identities of the learners, test centres or locations.

England boasts the worst record for repeat practical test failures, with its 20 worst drivers over the past decade racking up 679 between them.

Scotland’s top 20 doomed motorists clocked up 463 failures, while Wales worst had 366 collectively.

In the theory tests, England also fell short – with 1,598 attempts between its worst 20 learner drivers.

Wales came second with a collective 927 tests while Scotland clocked in at 754.

Separate data from the DVSA showed that the most common reason for failing a practical driving test in 2019/20 was a lack of correct observation at junctions.

Failing to check mirrors before changing direction was second, while improper control of the steering wheel was third.

Remarkably, these have been the same most common reasons for failure every year since 2013/14.

Pass rates in the past 10 years have remained roughly the same, with the highest being 47 per cent in 2016/17 and the lowest at 46 per cent in 2018/19.

 Enjoyed this? Read our latest news:

Useful links

Don't just take our word for it. We're rated at 4.9/5 on independent reviews website Trustpilot from over 21,867 genuine customer reviews
Very pleased with the remote Covid19 service and very pleased with my car.
LHones