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DfT proposes to ‘incentivise’ passing first time

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The Department for Transport has come up with a plan to get more people passing their driving test first time. In the hope that it will encourage people to take longer learning, they're proposing to refund a new 'deposit' if you pass on your first go.

Is it a good thing?

Pffft. I have to say, I think this is a very poor idea. For a start, getting back a 'deposit' (presumably less than the £62 test fee?) just isn't enough of an incentive when learning to drive can cost thousands. If the desposit is on top of the current fee, the DVSA is basically just raising the cost of the test - and a lucky few will get some of it back.

Another thing: this move will only glamorise passing first time even more. A major problem we have is so-called 'natural drivers' taking too few lessons, passing first time and then thinking they've achieved driving excellence. These people take risks and they crash. Young male drivers in particular feel over-confident and crash their cars, taking their friends with them.

Reported killed or seriously injured casualties by gender, road user type and age

Reported killed or seriously injured casualties by gender, road user type and age

Building the hype of passing first time only adds another layer of shame for those who don't - and that's currently about 80% of people taking their test. Making young drivers feel worse for not acing the test is counterproductive.

Clearly the idea is that you'll want to pass first time more (could young learners really want to pass MORE?) so you'll take more driving lessons to make sure that happens. But in reality, no one takes the test thinking they'll fail. In your heart, you think you'll pass - so this 'incentive' is useless.

What would work better:

If the government wants young learners to be more focused on the safety of their driving, they need to incentivise taking more lessons, not passing first time. If they could refund a percentage of the overall driving lesson costs, young drivers would see a bigger and fairer return.

The DVSA recommends you have 40 hours of driving lessons before taking your test. That's around £1,000 at usual lesson rates. If the government committed to giving back 10% of your driving lesson costs when you passed, that would be a nice sum of £100 if you'd done the required number.

It's just too little and in the wrong area

The government has recently increased the tax on insurance premiums from 6% to 9.5% - essentially upping the average premium for a 17 year old driver by £65. That's the price of a driving test, so even if the DfT were to refund the entire thing, young drivers still wouldn't have saved any money.

Know how you can really claw back some of the money you spend on learning to drive? Take the number of driving lessons you need to be a safe and confident driver, then save money on your insurance costs by choosing a black box policy. Good drivers WILL be rewarded for learning the right way and continuing to drive safely.

Find out how you can save money just by driving the way your instructor taught you.

Honor Clement-Hayes

By Honor Clement-Hayes

Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .