Motorway sign late 50's

Driving in the UK started to evolve rather quickly after the 50s. Did you know that the M6 Preston bypass was the first stretch of motorway built in December 1958? The M1 officially opened on 2 November 1959 but in the early days it had none of the following:

  • speed limit
  • central reservation
  • crash barriers
  • motorway lighting

Moving into the 60s…from 1 April 1962, people who had held more than 7 provisional licences were required to take a driving test. If they failed to do so, the licensing authority could refuse a further application for a licence.

The Law and driving tests

In 1964 a voluntary register of approved driving instructors (ADIs) was set up under the Road Traffic Act 1962. In order to become an ADI, you had to pass stringent written and practical tests.

New drink-drive laws came into force on 8 October 1967 where the legal limit was 80mg alcohol in 100ml blood. In 1968 the test fee was increased to £1 and 15 shillings (£1.75p) and changes to the driving test from 2 June 1969 included:

  • vehicles used in the test must not have dual accelerator control unless this had been made inoperable
  • a separate driving licence group for automatic vehicles was introduced
  • candidates were required to produce their driving licence to the examiner at the test and sign the examiner’s attendance record – examiners could refuse to conduct a test if these requirements were not met

It’s hard nowadays to imagine not having a motorway, not having a drink driving limit and only paying £1.75 for a driving test! But as our roads got busier these changes were essential. Motorways kept traffic flowing and drink driving limits saved lives. Imagine what our roads would be like if these things weren’t implemented?

Stay tuned next week to find out more about the recent history of the driving test.