How driving tests have changed over the years

Driving Test Differences Over the Years

Driving tests have been around for more than 80 years and they’ve changed significantly in that amount of time. The test that your grandparents would have taken to get their driving license would have been a very different test to the one that people have to take today.

Arguably it’s much harder now than it was all those years ago to pass, and the number of young motorists passing their practical driving test is at its lowest for 10 years.

This could be because of the difficulty of the driving test (practical and theory) but also down to the cost as it’s much more expensive now than it used to be (isn’t everything!)

However, the costs haven’t stopped people over the years. Since 1935 there have been around 52 million tests taken!

How have driving tests have changed since 1935?

1st June 1935

Compulsory testing was brought in for all drivers and riders who started driving on or after 1 April 1934

Fun fact: Mr Beere was the first person to pass the driving test. He paid the grand total of 7/ 6d (37.5p) to take the test.

2nd September 1939

Driving tests were suspended for the duration of World War 2.

November 1946

Driving tests resumed after the War ended the year before


Saw the first driving test set for an automatic vehicle


Learner drivers still had to demonstrate their ability to use hand signals.

April 1991

Other manoeuvres were introduced such as being able to perform a three-point turn and reverse around a corner.

November 1995

The Pass Plus scheme was introduced to help newly qualified young drivers gain valuable driving experience and reduce the risk of them being involved in an accident.

July 1996

Candidates were also expected to take a separate written theory test, demonstrating their knowledge of the Highway Code

4th Jan 2000

The touch-screen theory test was introduced

Dec 2001

Candidates could book their theory test online for the first time

November 2002

The test was amended again to include motorists ability to react to hazards.

September 2003

‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ vehicle safety questions were added to the beginning of the driving test

September 2007

Further changes to the test saw the number of questions in the theory section increased from 35 to 50

6th April 2010

Driving test candidates were encouraged to take their instructor with them on their test.

4th October 2010

‘Independent driving’ became part of the practical driving test. Candidates were required to drive for 10 minutes making their own decisions.

23rd January 2012

The multiple choice part of the UK driving Theory Test was made up of questions that are no longer available in training materials.

Driving test sat nav

4th December 2017

More driving test changes came into affect at the end of last year. This was in an attempt to increase road safety and reduce the number of traffic accidents, particularly among young drivers. It’s also supposed enable new drivers to have the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.

Driving Test changes that came in to place in December 2017:

1. More independent driving as part of the test

The independent driving part of the test where you have to drive without direct instructions from the examiner was increased to 20 minutes from 10 minutes.

2. Following directions from a sat nav

During the above “independent driving” part of the test, you will now more than likely be asked to follow instructions from a sat nav

3. Reversing manoeuvres were changed

The ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres are no longer tested but you will still need to learn them from your driving instructor.

4. Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving

You’ll now be asked 2 vehicle safety questions during your driving test by the examiner which are known as the “show me, tell me” questions.

So there’s a timeline of the considerable changes to driving tests over the years and we don’t doubt that there will be new changes and developments being introduced soon.

We hope you found this useful. If you are about to take your driving test, or your children are, find out more about when is the best time of year to buy a car, to make sure you get the best deal!

And if you’ve got any questions about selling your car or would like some advice just give us a call on 0121 296 3829.