Learner drivers to be offered ‘cash-back’ as incentive to pass first time

12.00 | 13 November 2015 | | 6 comments

Learner drivers could be offered financial incentives to pass their driving test first time, under proposed government plans described as the "biggest shake up of the driving test in a generation".

The plans have been put out to consultation by the Department for Transport (DfT) amid concerns that just one in five people (21%) pass their driving test at the first attempt.

Learner drivers currently pay up to £75 to take their driving test, but under the new proposals the driving test fee would be reduced by requiring learner drivers to pay a deposit when they take their test, which they would get back if they pass.

The consultation states: “There is anecdotal evidence that some learner drivers are booking a practical test date well in advance, at the start of their lessons, and then taking the test at that time whether or not they are ready.

“It is in the interests of candidates, instructors and examiners that candidates take the practical test only once they are properly prepared.”

Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 years make up just 7% of motorists but account for almost a fifth of accidents and it is hoped this initiative will help reduce that rate.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “We want to make learning to drive safer and more affordable. This change will give those who pass first time some money back and provide an incentive for learners to be more prepared before they take their test.

“These common sense proposals mean that all learner drivers can feel the benefit. This consultation is a really important step and we want to hear all views.”

Experience equals safety: TRL

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has welcomed the proposal while at the same time stressing that its effectiveness will need to be monitored.

Shaun Helman, head of transport psychology, said: “We know that the more on-road experience young drivers accumulate, the safer they become.

“We also know that the older drivers are when they pass their test, the safer they are. Therefore any initiative that encourages learner drivers to be as prepared and mature as possible before they begin driving alone should be viewed positively.

“However, like all road safety initiatives, it will need to be monitored to ensure that the desired outcomes are being achieved.”

The consultation also sets out proposals to introduce more driving test appointment times, including weekends and evenings, and offer tests from a range of venues.

The DfT is inviting views on the proposals and the consultation will close on 8 January 2016.



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    There was an article on this site a couple of months ago regarding a survey of 2000 test passers and asked who taught them. The vast majority used friends and family and only had a few lessons at the end because they have to go through an agency for the test. Maybe this is responsible for the lack of passes first time.

    What part of this system can we change? Make it necessary that all candidates have to book at least 20 or even 40 lessons with an approved instructor. That goes for motorcyclists as well.

    Bob Craven Lancs. Space is Safer Campaigner
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I wonder if the monitoring will be based on reduction of the leadtime for tests as the number of re-tests is lowered? Also if the number of total tests falls due to less retesting will the fee rise or will there be less centers and examiners?

    Peter, City of Westminster
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    Perhaps if the leadtime for a test was only a week or so, less people would think they needed to guess a date and book a long way in advance to avoid the backlog and delay. Match supply to demand?

    Pat , Wales
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    They will get the extra experience – if they fail. I can’t see how a small cashback scheme would encourage people to pass first time – they will receive les money back than they would pay in extra lessons. Main point though is that there already is a cash incentive – if they pass they don’t have to pay for more lessons and another test.

    Andy, Warwick
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    Learner drivers have many incentives, financial and otherwise, to pass the test, this idea would make no difference and has the characteristics of a make-work scheme.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    When you have 365,000 failures out of 460,000 tests, it’s more likely that there is something wrong with the training and testing regime than there is something wrong with the students.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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