Pandemic puts driving test pass rates in a spin
Driving test pass rates in Northumberland went in all directions in Northumberland during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show – although far fewer tests took place.
Success rates at the Alnwick Test Centre went up, Berwick saw a drop in passes, while the centre in Blyth recorded a record number of learner drivers being cleared to take to the road.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency data shows that of 262 practical tests in Alnwick during 2020-21, 182 ended in success – a pass rate of 69% and up from 64% the previous year.
However, far fewer tests were undertaken due to Covid-19 restrictions, which saw only key workers permitted to take tests during the enforced lockdowns –
262, compared to 685 in 2019-20.
At Alnwick, 127 out of 176 people passed on the first attempt – 72% compared to the national average of 51%.
Ar Blyth, 777 tests ended in success (66%) – up from 56% the previous year and the highest rate since comparable records began in 2007-08.
Fewer tests took place with 1,177 in 2020-21, compared to 5,455 in 2019-20.
At Blyth, 537 out of 794 people passed on the first attempt – 68%.
At Berwick-On-Tweed, 126 tests ended in success – a pass rate of 61% but down from 63% the previous year.
There were 205 tests in 2020-21, compared to 533 in 2019-20.
Out of 125 people sitting the test for the first time, 75 passed (60%).
Quieter roads and "incredibly motivated" key workers taking their tests are thought to be behind a record national rise in passes – 50% in 2020-21 but the number of tests dropped to 437,000 – down from 1.6 million the previous year.
Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: “Tests were only allowed for key workers who needed to drive for their job and this probably also goes some way to explaining the higher pass rate as the candidates would have been incredibly motivated to pass."
Mr Cowell said that demand for driving tests is now "sky-high" – with learners facing a waiting time of more than three months to book one.