Would you pass your driving theory test again?

We quizzed some of our readers to find out...

Woman having driving lesson

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Originally published August 24th 2016

Almost half of British drivers would fail their driving theory test if they had to retake it today, according to new MoneySuperMarket research.

Marking 20 years since the driving theory test was introduced in 1996, we put together our own theory test based on real questions from the official Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) test.

More than 30,000 people took part, and out of those, nearly half (41%) failed to achieve the required pass mark of 13 out of 15.

Only one in 10 drivers managed to score top marks, while one in five just missed out on a pass with a score of 12 out of 15 (86%).

Test and forget

Dan Plant, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Once learners pass their driving theory test and then pass the practical test, they are understandably keen to rip up their L-plates and get behind the wheel. However, it seems many who’ve passed forget what they’ve learnt once they’re in the driving seat.

“Not understanding the rules of the road can be hazardous, as well as costly. For example, not abiding by speeding laws can put yourself and other drivers in danger, while also resulting in steep fines and points on your licence if you’re caught.”

Would these questions trip you up?

To give you a flavour of what’s in the test, here are three questions to digest:


You should only flash your headlights to other road users...


Question: When should you flash your headlights to other road users?

Answer: Although many of us flash our headlights to give way to other drivers, the Highway Code states you should only flash them to show other road users you are there.


In good conditions, which is the typical stopping distance at 70 mph?


Question: What is the stopping distance at 70mph?

Answer: The stopping distance combines the thinking distance (the distance travelled between realising you need to brake and actually braking) and the braking distance (the distance it takes to stop once you apply the brakes).

If you’re travelling at 70mph, the stopping distance is 96 metres, or 315 feet. Remember that in bad weather, this will increase.

To help you work out stopping distances, you can multiply the speed by intervals of 0.5, starting at 20mph x 2, as follows:

20mph x 2 = 40 feet (12 metres)
30mph x 2.5 = 75 feet (23 metres)
40mph x 3 = 120 feet (36.5 metres)
50mph x 3.5 = 175 feet (53 metres)
60mph x 4 = 240 feet (73 metres)
70mph x 4.5 = 315 feet (96 metres)


You are carrying two 13 year old children and their parents in your car. Who is responsible for seeing that the children wear seat belts?


Question: Who is responsible for seeing that children wear seat belts?

Answer: It’s tempting to think it’s the responsibility of the children’s parents or even the children themselves, but in fact, it’s the driver’s. Should you get caught carrying passengers under the age of 14 not wearing a seat belt, you could be fined £500 and given three penalty points.

However, once the children turn 14, it becomes their responsibility.

Take the test

Pass rates down

Despite four in 10 people failing our theory test, the pass rate is actually higher than the national average for the real thing, which has been falling since 2007/8, and currently stands at just over 49%.


Theory test pass rate '07 - '16


As we explained in this blog, however, there has been a number of changes to the theory test during this time which could explain the decline – not least expanding the test from 35 to 50 questions.

Interestingly, women’s pass rates have fallen more sharply than men’s during the same period.


Theory test pass rate by gender

Underestimating the cost

It seems that stopping distances aren’t the only thing motorists underestimate, as our test also asked how much drivers throw away each year by automatically renewing their insurance with their existing insurer.

The actual answer is a collective £1.3bn, but 77% of drivers underestimated the figure. In fact, nearly half (43%) thought that auto-renewal cost UK drivers only £2.1million.

On the actual money wasted, Dan Plant said: “This sum is way beyond what drivers actually think it is. There are savings of up to £251 to be made by shopping around and switching providers when your car insurance policy is up for renewal, rather than letting insurers get away with auto-renewal rip-offs.”

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