Driving test set to mark 75 years

Nearly three-quarters of a century after the driving test was introduced, statistics have proved that roads are much safer now compared with 1935.

On June 1, the test will mark its 75th birthday as it continues to "help save lives".

As many as 7,343 people died on the roads in 1934 when there were 1.5 million cars. In 2008, the number of deaths was 2,538, with 34 million cars on the roads.

Road safety minister Mike Penning said: "The driving test is not just a rite of passage, it has helped save thousands of lives on our roads.

"The test and the learning needed to pass it are a vital part of giving drivers the skills they need to drive efficiently and safely.

"High standards of driver training and assessment are an essential contribution to helping Britain's roads remain among the safest in the world."

J Beene was the first driver to pass the test after its introduction, a year after which the number of deaths on the road plunged by 1,000.

Officials suspended the test during the Second World War and the Suez crisis in 1956 and put examiners in charge of fuel rationing instead.

Candidates still had to show hand signals until 1975 and in July 1996, officials introduced the theory test.

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