In a few weeks the ‘new’ driving test will be in operation, there has been as you would expect more than a degree of comment from driving instructors and pupils who are, as it were instructing and learning under the ‘old’ test but in some cases take their test under the ‘new’, for instance, someone who takes a test now, fails and can only take a re-test after the 4th of December.
Most instructors will have of course discussed this with pupils and will have covered the changes along with the new requirements as a matter of course and whatever the ‘rights or wrongs’ of the new system it’s unlikely that pupils will have any problems completing the new.
This is not, of course, the first time the ‘test’ has changed since it became mandatory to take and pass on April 1st, 1934. It was not met with universal acclaim or acceptance, and comments in the motoring press are quite illuminating. Anyone could be a driving instructor no qualifications or experience required then, but the ‘uniform’ of instructors working for large organisations appeared to be a suit complete with bowler hat!
The test itself would be recognisable by today’s pupils, the question of whether it was easier or harder to pass in those far off days is questionable, but I would say that the modern pupil and for that matter structure would most certainly get quite a culture shock if asked to drive to test standard a 1930’s car. No synchromesh gearbox and cable or rod operated brakes, anyone?
The 1940’s and again in the mid-1950’s saw the test suspended, and thousands of mostly men were ‘tested’ during their military service. The ‘test’ then seemed to be a case of if you could start and stop and drive around a parade ground without hitting anything or anyone you passed, needs must I suppose.
Pupils and motoring journalists have always had a lot to say, and I found a couple of real gems in a 1950’s article and letters pages of ‘Practical Motorist and Motorcyclist.
From ‘failed three times’ of Colchester, who was obviously quite disgusted that 500 examiners taking up to 6 times to pass some people on the most ‘petty little fault’ Another states that the ‘test’ has had no impact on accidents and that there were fewer accidents in 1955 than in 1938, despite double the numbers of vehicles, ( I wonder what he would make of today’s traffic? )
The editor F.J Camm was of a similar opinion, not enough examiners and certainly hard to find the examiners of the right experience and calibre, it, therefore, should be abolished, as like many other experiments which have been introduced in the name of road safety it has failed and an examination of the accident statistics has shown it has made no impact on the problem.
Perhaps, we do after all live in more enlightened times.