Support our Nation today - please donate here

Call to raise driving test fees for learners who repeatedly fail

03 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Learner Driver.

Driving test fees could be raised for learners who have already made multiple unsuccessful attempts, a motoring research charity has suggested.

The RAC Foundation said this would encourage them to wait until they are ready to pass, easing the “unacceptable” test backlog which often forces candidates to wait “many months for a slot”.

UK Government figures show 93,204 practical car driving tests taken in the year to the end of March were at least the candidate’s sixth attempt at passing.

The success rate for those tests was just 41.4%, compared with an average rate across all tests of 47.9%.

Last month, AA Driving School said it obtained Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) figures suggesting the average waiting time for a test at the start of February was more than 18 weeks.

Driving tests were prohibited during coronavirus lockdowns, leading to a huge backlog of candidates.

Thousands of tests were also cancelled due to strikes by driving examiners.


Practical driving tests cost £62 during weekday daytimes and £75 during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said the next UK government should consider introducing rebates for learners who pass the test first time, and additional fees for those with several previous failures.

He told the PA news agency: “Forget about all the traffic jams out on the road, there is now an unacceptable amount of congestion in the test system with learners often waiting many months for a slot.

“In part these jams are being caused by people who have failed multiple times and come back to take a test that might be their fourth, fifth or sixth attempt, or even greater.

“An improved pass rate would help drive down the understandable backlog, and if you incentivise people to pass first time there is also a case for adding a modest premium to the test fee for those who have already failed on several occasions.”

Mr Gooding said the figures suggest some learners “keep throwing themselves back into tests without being properly prepared”.

He went on: “A higher fee might persuade them not to resit their test until they are more likely to pass.

“If you can improve the pass rate, this means more learners avoiding the financial and time costs associated with repeated disappointments at the test centre.”

The DVSA was approached for a comment.

In February, the agency said measures to reduce waiting times included asking more qualified managers and administration staff to conduct exams full-time.

Last year it said it would increase the length of time candidates who fail the test have to wait before they can book another from 10 days to 28 days, to encourage them to wait until they are ready to pass.

Learners must pass a theory test before they can book a practical driving test in the UK.

The most attempts made by a candidate before passing the theory test in the first half of last year was 59.

The individual, who has not been named, spent at least £1,380 and around 60 hours on the process at a test centre in Redditch, Worcestershire.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 days ago

Knee jerk reaction from so called motoring organisations.
More information is required on why people fail is it a specific or same reason most fail, is it a certain area of the UK, is it certain demographic, is it certain examiners or centres.
A driving test should be same for all, not charged extra because they have failed before, they are paying extra by sitting a new test and cost of that.

11 days ago

Motoring organisation, hating on potential motorists. Surely the disgusting cost of initial insurance is lowering the applicants to take a test enough(8k my daughter was quoted on a clio). By failing the pupil is already hit by more costs, lets not punish what is mainly the young, even further.

Dail y Goeden
Dail y Goeden
10 days ago

Much as “Howie” wrote yesterday: I think that the RAC are very appropriately looking at a significant problem – the backlog and bottle-neck for driving test appointments – but that they are then offering a wrong (and a very wrong) solution. Just as for people who repeatedly fail tests in other fields of life, we (cohesive, supportive society) need (1) to understand the reasons for those failures, and (2) not to add to the difficulties of those who fail. All that said, the RAC, and others, are right to look at ways to identify those unlikely to pass the test,… Read more »

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.