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Men race ahead of women in driving test pass rates

-New research from reveals that younger male drivers have the best first-time pass rates-

Posted on 29 Nov 2013

  • Men are more likely than women to pass their test first time (48% vs. 44%)
  • Best age for first-time pass rates is 17, across both genders
  • In 2013, the average age at which people passed their driving test was 23.5
  • Oldest female to currently hold a driving licence is 106 and the oldest male is 105.
  • Year on year, less Brits are taking driving tests (170,000 decrease 2011-13), but more of those who do so are passing (pass rate increase of 0.8%)

Women are less likely to pass their practical driving test first time around compared to men, according to new research from

According to the latest statistics obtained by the leading price comparison site via FOI request from the Driving Standards Agency, this year nearly half (48%) of male motorists who took their test passed first time, compared to just 44% of females who passed on their first attempt.

The research also found that women take an average of eight months to their pass their practical driving test, compared to just six months for men*. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 39% of men believe they are better drivers than women, while just a quarter (26%) of women believe themselves to be more competent drivers than their male counterparts* - opinions perhaps supported by these new pass rate figures.

However, regardless of gender, it is young drivers who get top marks for passing their practical driving test first time, with the findings revealing that 17 year olds have the best first time pass rates. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 51-55 year olds have the highest number of attempted passes, with over 40% more attempts (2.7) than a 17 year old (1.6).

Yet while the best age for passing a practical driving test first time was shown to be 17, the average age for someone to pass their driving test, regardless of the number of attempts, has remained significantly higher. In 2011 the average age for someone to pass their driving test was 23.1, in 2012 (23.4) and in 2013 (23.5).

According to the research, it seems that the older the driver, the less success they will have in passing their driving test. The findings reveal that the pass rate for 30 year old males is significantly lower than for those who took their test at the age of 17 (47% v 58%), and by 50, males are even less likely to pass their driving test (41% pass rate). Similarly, for a 20 year old female (44%), it is over 10% less likely they will pass their driving test than at the age of 17 (55% pass rate), and by 50 over 20% less likely.

The findings also reveal that more than three quarters (78%) of the British population (aged 16-70) currently hold a driving licence, with nearly half (47%) of all candidates who took their test last year passing.

However, while the driving test pass rate is increasing, the number of tests being taken is actually falling. Figures obtained by from the Driving Standards Agency reveal that nearly 170,000 fewer people took their test between 2011 (1,604,511) and 2013 (1,435,727), yet overall pass rates have increased by 0.8%*. So while less Brits are taking their driving test, more of those that do so are passing.

At present, there is currently no upper age limit for holding a driving licence, and according to the research, in 2008 three 98 year old females passed their test. However, these are not the oldest drivers on UK roads – the oldest female to currently hold a driving licence is 106 and the oldest male is 105.

A third of people (33%) believe drivers should be made to re-sit their driving test again at aged 60 to re-test their ability and eyesight to check they are safe to drive, with more than half (53%) thinking this should be mandatory for drivers aged 70+.*

However it may not be older drivers that other motorists should be most concerned about. According to the findings, one in 20 motorists (6%) admitted to having an accident within a year of passing their test, with this figure highest amongst those who had passed aged 17 (8%). So, while 17 year olds might be the most successful at passing their driving test first time and getting themselves on the roads, they might not be the safest or most confident.

In fact, more than two thirds of motorists (68%) say they feel more confident now than they did when they first passed their driving test, with nearly half (47%) admitting that their confidence on the roads has grown over time.

It is these fears around the road safety of younger drivers that has led the Government to suggest stricter regulations for younger drivers, which could see teenagers having to wait a year longer than currently before they are allowed to take their driving test. Under these new proposals, the government is also considering issuing only 12-month probationary licences at the age of 18 in a bid to cut accidents involving young motorists. New drivers would also face a curfew between 22:00 and 05:00 unless a passenger aged over 30 was in the car.**

It seems that reforms around the current driving test would be welcomed by other motorists, with 44% supporting a move to increase the driving age to 18 years. One in five Brits (20%) also think the current methods of testing driving (through theory and practical tests) need to be made stricter or more challenging to make drivers safer. 

Gemma Stanbury, Head of Car Insurance at comments:

“For years, people have argued over whether men or women are the best drivers, and while this is still up for debate, men can now claim at least that they are the quickest learners when they get behind the wheel of the car.

“However, people should be cautious as learning to drive is not a race – motorists should take their time and learn to drive carefully before taking their tests. The experience that comes with driving over time is invaluable in preventing accidents and making our roads a safer place for everyone.

“New drivers, regardless of age or gender, should be mindful of other road users and make sure responsible driving is their number one priority.”

- Ends 

Notes to editors: issued a Freedom of Information request to the Driving Standards Agency requesting data on practical driving test pass rates from 2011 to 2013 to date. Data was received in September 2013.

*All other figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll Research on behalf of An online poll of 2,000 nationally representative sample of UK adults, aged 18+. Conducted between 18-20 November 2013.


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Launched in 2002, was the UK's first price comparison site for car insurance and is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular price comparison services, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the last couple of years to include small van insurance, motorcycle insurance, car buying and selling, and car finance, as well as a number of tools designed to save drivers money on motoring. is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an objective and unbiased comparison service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more.’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators. is owned by the Admiral Group plc. Admiral listed on the London Stock Exchange in September 2004. is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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