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Driving test turns 80

Published 01 June 2015

This week marks 80 years since the introduction of the driving test in Great Britain.

The test became compulsory on 1 June, 1935. In 1934 there were just 1.5 million cars in use, but more than 7000 people were killed on the country’s roads.

Within a year of the introduction of the test, the number of deaths had fallen by 1000, and has continued to improve.

Mr R 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.

But back in 1935, there were no test centres so you had to arrange to meet the examiner at a post office, train station, town hall or other suitable venue.

When the Second World War broke out, the test was suspended and didn’t resume until 1 November, 1946.

Fewer people pass their driving test today than when it was launched. In 1935,the pass rate was 63% compared to 47% in 2014.

Since it was introduced, an estimated 50 million tests have been taken in Great Britain.

This great film from the archives of the National Motor Museum was made by Ford, with commentary by Sir Malcolm Campbell, to reassure would-be drivers that the test was not something to fear.


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