1st June 1935

The law changed on 1st June 1935, making the Driving Test compulsory, but in order to not create too big a rush, voluntary testing was introduced on the 16th March 1935. The first person to pass was a Mr R Breere who did so at a cost of only 7/6d (37.5p) on that day!

This change of law meant that compulsory testing was for all drivers and riders who started driving on or after 1st April 1934.

Driving test sign

The Examiners were trained ‘on the job’ and were responsible for handling the booking of driving tests. They used to meet candidates at pre-arranged locations such as car parks or railway stations because there were no test centres. The first overall pass rate was 63% which seems slightly scary considering that some of the people who failed were already driving!

When World War 2 arrived, driving tests were suspended from 2nd September 1939 until 1st November 1946. During the war, the examiners were redeployed to traffic duties and supervision of fuel rationing.

10/- driving test

By 1950 the pass rate had gone down to 50%. Remember, last week we mentioned that the driving test was and still is self-regulating? Well more traffic and more interactions with other cars mean more chances to fail. All the time the pass rate was falling the test fees were rising. In 1950 the test cost 10/- (50p) and by 1956 it was £1, the equivalent to almost £25 in 2019. You’ll have probably noticed but the pass rate falling and the test fee rising are a theme throughout the story of the driving test!

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