The origin of the Driving Test comes from The Motor Car Act 1903. The act meant that both vehicles and drivers had to be licenced. In those days, the licence cost was 5 shillings which is only about 25 pence! Once The Motor Car Act was brought in, you could be fined £5 for not having a licence. It also brought the speed limit up to 20 mph and made sure that the brakes met a certain standard.
The next major piece of legislation was The Road Traffic Act 1930. This abolished speed limits for vehicles with less than 7 seats and brought in various offences like dangerous, reckless and careless driving. The Road Traffic Act 1930 also introduced The Highway Code. It made Third Party Motor Insurance compulsory and required driver testing for the disabled.
So the driving tests for the disabled were the first driving tests for ordinary car users. What they wanted to know was that the disabled driver was able to control their vehicle and the control of the vehicle is the basis of all driving tests today.
Road Traffic Act 1934:
Now that all drivers had to be licenced it was decided that they should also all be tested, not just those with disabilities. This was introduced by The Road Traffic Act 1934 and was a direct response to the level of road casualties. The other major provision was the re-introduction of the 30 mph speed limit.
For about 2.5 million cars there were 7,300 road deaths, of these deaths over half were pedestrians with three-quarters of these occurring in built-up areas. Compare this to the 30 million cars nowadays with about 1,700 road deaths of which only 470 are pedestrians casualties.
Naturally, motoring organisations like the RAC and The AA resisted this new legislation. Moore-Brabazon MP rallied against it in the House of Commons. “Yes, he conceded, 7,000 people a year were being killed on the roads, but it is not always going to be like that. People are getting used to new conditions. Older members of the House will recollect the number of chickens we killed in the early days of motoring. We used to come back with the radiator stuffed with feathers. It was the same with dogs. Dogs get out of the way of motor cars nowadays and you never kill one. There is education even in the lower animals. These things will right themselves. Why such concern over 7,000 road deaths a year?” He demanded. More than 6,000 people commit suicide every year, and nobody makes a fuss about that.
The thing is, he was a decent bloke. Served his country both in peace and in war. Decorated for bravery during the first world war and served as a minister during the second. Was a pioneer in the words of aviation, yachting and motoring. But he had a certain view and it’s opposed to what we would think today. But also not entirely uncommon amongst his peers either.
What do you think? Was Moore-Brabazon right or wrong?
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So what is a driving test?
It is a test of driving competence, judged on what the examiner sees at that exact time and place. Essentially, it is the same test it has always been however, it has evolved to meet the ever-changing conditions.
The test can be described as self-regulating. This means that while in itself, it’s pretty much the same, the extra traffic on the road makes it more and more difficult.
The test means different things to different people. Here we will take a quick look at what those differences are.
To Society: It’s a right of passage from which you receive your freedom. Even The Queen has a Driving Licence. The fact she doesn’t need to drive, as she has 8 chauffeurs from the Royal Household to call on is neither here nor there. She still learnt and learning to drive is one of the things that binds us together as a people. A common experience that is shared by most.
To Government: The DVSA are the people who run The Driving Tests. Their aim is for you to be consistently safe with a bit of confidence in your driving. As we are all equal in the eyes of the law, all driving tests are as similar as possible. Obviously, we can’t all do the same test route with the same examiner but all tests will be to the same standard over similar routes. Another common experience shared by most.
The Candidate: If you’re ready, The Driving Test is easy, it’s the examiner that adds the pressure and makes it difficult. The way to cope with the pressure and for the best chance of passing is by giving the DVSA what they want. Being consistently safe but showing confidence in your driving. How do you know you’re ready? Would you be happy driving by yourself the day after you pass your test? Make sure you have an honest conversation with your instructor before you book your driving test. They will know when you’re ready.
The Instructor: It’s a bittersweet moment when your pupil passes. You have grown to know and love them, and then they leave you! The knot in your instructor’s stomach becomes a feeling of joy when a pupil passes their test. For an instructor, the happiness that comes with a Pass surpasses the saying goodbye to a pupil.
The Examiner: These are the people who conduct The Driving Test. What might they be thinking? Their job is to see that you are consistently safe and driving with confidence. But how? Think about what an examiner might ask themselves during a test. Maybe it’s questions like, would I want them driving my car or would I want them driving near my car?
What do you think about The Driving Test? Have you taken one? Did you pass? How long ago did you take the test? Do you think you could pass now? Let us know over on Facebook!