Is there a ‘best’ place to take your driving test and does where you learn to drive effect your chances of passing?
Whether you’re learning to drive in the city or in the country, you’ll know that getting to grips with motoring isn’t easy. Throw in other cars, hills and cyclists, however, and it gets even trickier. Statistics released by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) show that pass rates – over the past year – have been higher in rural areas, with learners in urban locations, presumably, coming up against more obstacles.
According to the DSA, the highest pass rates, between April 2011 and March this year, came from Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland at 72.5%. The lowest, on the other hand, came from Bradford (Heaton), Yorkshire, with just 31.6% of learners passing their tests there.
Here we take a look at some of the possible reasons behind why pass rates are lower in the city, and how, as a learner, you can prepare yourself for the challenges you may face in your test.
The most obvious advantage of driving in rural areas is the lack of congestion. In country locations there are less hazards to look out for, the road systems are simpler, and other motorists are, generally, more patient.
There, are however, a few negatives which come with learning to drive in a rural location. Many roads will require faster speeds and might take you on winding routes. There may also be other other hazards such as dog walkers or rogue animals. It would be very unlucky to come across a misguided herd of cattle on your test, but it could happen.
There may also be a lot of hill starts to contend with, and, if you’re learning in a manual, you’ll know how difficult perfecting those can be.
Taking your test in the city not only means that you’ll have other motorists to contend with, but also traffic lights, roundabouts and bus lanes. Your driving examiner will have more opportunities to critique the way that you interact with fellow drivers, and also whether or not you’re able to remain focused in difficult situations.
It’s not all bad, though, as some learners claim that taking your test in the city actually puts you at an advantage. Think of it this way: if you spend half of your test sitting in a traffic jam, there’s not much room for error. Of course, you’ll still have to prove that you’re a safe, efficient driver and perform your maneuvers well, but finding yourself at a standstill will give you a bit of time to steady your nerves.
So is the driving test fair?
The DSA admit that it’s ‘not always possible’ to create equal conditions for every single learner taking their test. Although the required standard of driving is the same for everyone, it is, ultimately, impossible to ensure that driving conditions are identical for every test.
Location isn’t the only factor which effects driving conditions. A learner taking their test in the rain, for example, would be at a disadvantage compared to someone taking their test in perfect weather conditions. Similarly, while one learner encounters no obstacles whatsoever, another may have to perform an emergency stop if a dog runs out in front of them or another driver pulls out without looking.
It may seem as though this is unfair, but the main focus of the driving test is to ensure a learner driver has the necessary skills and knowledge to become a qualified driver. This means that they’re able, not only to cope with unexpected situations on the road, but also that they know when and how to adjust their driving style in accordance with the road conditions.
Taking your test
It may be tempting to look at the DSA’s latest figures and decide you want to take your test at a centre with a higher pass rate than your own. You should, however, take your test in the location you’ve been learning in. Regardless of the figures, choosing a test centre in an unfamiliar town or city won’t put you at an advantage. In fact, it will do quite the opposite.
If your driving instructor thinks that you’re ready to take your test, then you’re displaying all the skills you need to become an efficient road user, no matter where you are. As long as you’ve put the practice in and taken plenty of driving lessons, you’ll be confident when it comes to taking your test.
Image via Mike Knell @ Flickr