Offer driving test fee rebate for first-time pass28 Jun 2024

Move could cut the growing test backlog

Offering learner drivers some level of rebate on their driving test fee if they pass first time could help cut test waiting times and improve pass rates.

The incentive of a rebate could mean learners only taking a test when they are fully prepared.

Whilst this might mean some extra lessons and practice are needed, an improved first-time pass rate would potentially save tens of thousands of drivers the additional financial and time costs associated with retakes.

Fewer tests overall would also bring down the waiting times for everyone.

In 2023-24, 895,978 first-time driving tests were taken but only 430,799 (48.1%) were passed.

Overall, a record 1,945,225 tests were taken. Of these, 931,494 (47.9%) resulted in a pass.

In May the average waiting time for a test was almost 18 weeks. The waiting time and backlog has been growing since Covid when many tests were cancelled.

The weekday practical test fee is £62, rising to £75 for evening, weekend and bank holiday tests.

To help pay for the rebates, a “modest premium” could be added to those tests being taken by people who have already failed several. There could be exceptions to this for those with medical conditions which make passing a test more challenging.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Of the nearly 2 million practical car driving tests conducted last year fewer than half resulted in the candidate being awarded a full licence – a pass rate of only 48% – the same as the rate for candidates taking the test for the first time, 430,000 of whom passed.

“It must be in everyone’s interests to improve this pass rate so people can access the opportunities driving brings, not least when it comes to employment. But also, more first-time passes means fewer people queueing to take another test, clogging up a system already struggling to cope with demand.

“Unfortunately many learners apply for a test date as soon as they first get behind the wheel and stick with it, ready or not, for fear of a long wait for a replacement if they postpone.

“To break this vicious circle we need some fresh thinking from the next government. Why not offer a fee rebate of some kind for candidates who pass their test first time?

“This might mean candidates need a bit more practice and a few more lessons to pass first time, but better a confident candidate whose instructor has checked they are ready by running a mock-test than a learner gambling on getting through, with all the extra time, trouble and expense that comes with failing.”



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 07711 776448

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation which explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. For more information visit