This article relates the early history of driving tests in the UK, which played a major part in the dramatic reduction of British road fatalities between 1930 and now, despite a dramatic rise in the amount of road traffic. Oliver Stanley introduced the necessary legislation for the driving test, which was included in the Road Traffic Act 1934. At that time, motoring organisations were hostile to the introduction of a driving test and fought it vigorously. Stanley argued that the real value of the new law would be that a learner driver would only be allowed to drive on the road accompanied by a qualified driver, and that the vehicle would have to display 'L' plates. The new driver would be taught what he should do and should not do. Stanley hinted at stricter measures if his proposals were not effective. Due to a government reshuffle, it was Leslie Hore-Belisha, not Stanley, who actually introduced the driving test in the UK on 1 April 1934. After this date, new drivers would have to pass a test before being granted a full driving licence. 250 driving examiners were appointed, including a Chief Driving Examiner and 11 supervising examiners. The driving test actually became compulsory on 1 June 1935. The failure rate of tested drivers rose from about 7% in March 1935 to a 'plateau' of 37% in late 1939.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:


    CROYDON,   United Kingdom  CR0 4XZ
  • Authors:
    • AYLAND, J
  • Publication Date: 1999


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: p. 22-3
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00766917
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Transport Research Laboratory
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Aug 2 1999 12:00AM