Sometimes it feels like madness on the roads and most people overestimate their own driving skill. You can only imagine what road safety was like before the driving test, which has thankfully evolved to be a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of car ownership and driving responsibly! Here’s how it’s changed over the years...
1903 - Driving licences are introduced as a way of identifying vehicles and their drivers.
1931 – The Highway Code is first published by the Ministry of Transport.
1935 - Voluntary testing is introduced in March by the Road Traffic Act to prevent a rush of candidates when the test becomes compulsory. Testing begins in June for all new drivers. Candidates meet at pre-arranged locations such as car parks or railway stations, because there are no test centres.
1969 - Several changes are made to the test and a separate category for automatic cars is brought in.
1975 - Candidates no longer have to demonstrate arm signals in the test from May.
1988 - Driving tests are now conducted under the new provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988. 1990 - Examiners give candidates a brief explanation of faults committed during the test, plus advice on areas for improvement. New legislation also means anyone accompanying a learner driver from October must be over 21 and have held a driving licence for at least three years.
1995 - The Pass Plus scheme is introduced in November to help newly qualified young drivers gain valuable driving experience and reduce the risk of accidents.
1996 - A separate written theory test is brought in and replaces questions asked about the Highway Code during the practical test. The theory test pass mark is raised from 26 to 30 out of 35.
1999 - The duration of the test is increased, the emergency stop manoeuvre is done on a random basis and candidates are failed for committing 16 or more driving faults.
2000 - The touchscreen theory test is introduced.
2001 - Candidates can book their theory test via the Internet for the first time.
2002 - A hazard perception test is introduced into the theory test. Video clips are used to test candidates’ awareness of hazards on the road.
2003 - ‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ vehicle safety questions are added to the beginning of the practical test, to check that drivers can identify basic parts of their engine such as washer fluid & oil reservoirs etc. Candidates can now book their practical test online.
2010 – ‘Independent driving’ becomes part of the test, with candidates driving for 10 minutes making their own decisions.
2011 - A new case study was introduced into the theory test.
2015 - New computer-generated imagery clips replaced old filmed clips in the hazard perception part of the theory test.
2017 - The driving test changes to include following directions from a sat nav, testing different manoeuvres and answering a ‘show me’ safety question while driving.
2018 - On 4 June 2018, learner drivers were allowed to take motorway driving lessons for the first time. They have to be with an Advanced Driving Instructor and driving a car with dual controls. The change in law was made help to make sure more drivers know how to use motorways safely.