20 years of the theory test making roads safer


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July marks the driving theory test's 20th birthday so we've taken a look at its history

Before learner drivers can hit the roads they first have to pass the theory test, which this month celebrates its 20th birthday.

The theory test was introduced as a written part of the driving test process, replacing questions asked by the driving examiner during the driving test.

It later became a computer-based test, with a hazard perception test introduced to test candidates’ awareness of developing hazards.

How the test works

There are two parts to the theory test:

  • 50 multiple-choice questions
  • hazard perception - a video test about spotting hazards on the road

You must pass both parts to pass the test, but not everyone passes their theory test first time. The pass rate for car drivers in 2015 to 2016 was 49.3%.

Top three fails

And just like the practical driving test, learners are making the same mistakes on the theory test:

  • Road and traffic signs
  • Safety margins
  • Rules of the road

Other topics causing problems include attitude, safety and your vehicle, and documents.

Keeping costs down for motorists

As part of the government's plans to keeping the cost of driving down, it reduced the cost of the theory test by 25%.

Since October 2014, this has saved learner drivers around £11.6million and is expected to save £100million over the next nine.

Transport Minister Lord Ahmad, said: "We are determined to deliver safer roads and cut the number of people who are killed and seriously injured.

"The theory test is an important check so that new drivers know the rules of the roads and they can spot potential hazards before they develop."

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, added: "The test is kept under constant review to ensure it continues to prepare candidates for a lifetime of safe driving.

"The introduction of high-quality CGI clips enables candidates to demonstrate how they would respond to hazards in a safe environment."

Are you learning to drive? Take a look at our guide which covers everything you need to know from tests to insurance.

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