A quarter of Britons believe that motorists should have to resit the driving test every five years.
In the week that the test saw the first changes in more than a decade, a new survey has found that one in four drivers believe regular re-testing would help improve road safety and ensure motorists can cope with new automotive technology.
Based on average life expectancy and when people pass their test, that could result in drivers having to sit the test at least 12 times during their lifetime.
Mark Griffiths, safety expert at Continental Tyres which commissioned the study, said: “It is interesting that people would accept sitting their practical driving test every five years. It’s good to see people recognise safety is important and that they understand there are a lot of automotive technologies to keep up with.”
However, the idea of regularly retesting drivers has been dismissed as impractical and unnecessary by those who provide driving training.
A step too far
Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School said: “The idea of having to re-test drivers every five years is somewhat impractical and ill-considered. The current system would not be able to cope if this was made compulsory.
“There are around 45 million licence holders in the UK and if all of these drivers were to be regularly re-tested this would most likely create a huge backlog. The current average waiting time for a driving test is over seven weeks. If every licence holder was to be retested every five years, that is would be an extra nine million driver tests, assuming everyone passed.
“And what would be the consequence of failing your five-year test? Immediately off the road and stranded or would there be a grace period to facilitate retraining?
“It’s also worth noting that the UK is about the safest place in the world to drive in terms of road accident deaths per 100,000 citizens. There are already measures in place, such as speed awareness courses, that are a re-education process for drivers if necessary. Whilst we welcome suggestions to improve ‘real-life’ road safety, such as the introduction of sat navs to the UK driving test, we think this suggestion is a step too far.”
The study also found that drivers were in favour of the driving test being updated more regularly. The latest changes, which include more independent driving, new manoeuvres and using a sat nav, are only the eighth revision since the practical test was introduced in 1935.
Almost half of those asked agreed that the test should be regularly revised to reflect new automotive technologies and new driving practices. Drivers also thought that changes to instruction and the test should be more safety-focused, including better understanding of laws around mobile phones (64 per cent), and routine safety checks like checking tyre tread depth (57 per cent).
Mark Griffiths continued: “The findings are at odds with the confirmed changes to the driving test. Clearly people want safety prioritised – like knowing more about the legal use of mobile phones when driving as well as other issues around driving practice.”