Where are Britain’s best drivers?

Over 49 million people in the UK currently hold a provisional or full driving license.  With so many of us on the road, we decided to take a closer look at where the best and worst drivers are in the country.

Using DVLA data, we created a formula which ranked the nation’s drivers, according to the area of the UK they‘re from. Note, the data includes all counties in England, Scotland and Wales, excluding Northern Ireland due to data available from the DVLA.

We focused on five factors that would impact driver’s knowledge and weighted them based on their importance:

  1. Theory test passes (20%)
  2. Driving test pass rates (15%)
  3. First time pass rates (25%)
  4. First time passes with no faults (30%)
  5. Search volume data (10%)

Each county is allocated a score between one and five for each factor, based on DVLA data, along with google search volume figures, with one being the worst and five being the best. Using the above percentages, they were then given an overall score.

Some of our key findings include:

  • The county with the highest driving test pass rate is 61%, while the lowest is 37%. 
  • 26,280 UK drivers search “What is the national speed limit” each year.
  • “When is my MOT due” has an impressive 893,000 annual searches. 
  • Check out our findings and see if your county makes the list.

Who’s challenging for pole position?

Starting with the top of the charts, we found that the five places in the UK with the best drivers are:

  1. Dundee
  2. Somerset
  3. North Yorkshire
  4. Scottish Borders
  5. Northumberland

In pole position, Dundee scored four or five on every factor. Their drivers knew how to ace their exams, with its highest results in theory test passes, first time passes, and first time passes with zero faults.

In terms of individual successes, drivers from the Scottish Borders came second overall for first time passes with an impressive rate of 58%. Dundee and Somerset ran them a close second, with 56%.

Dundee, Aberdeen and Wiltshire were all in the highest bracket for first time passes with zero faults – keeping calm under pressure. While North Yorkshire scored in the top two tiers for each factor, except for driving tests, where its pass rate of 52% was in the middle range.

When it comes to theory test passes, Scottish drivers are leaving their English and Welsh counterparts in their dust, with a pass rate of 51%.

Who’s at the back of the grid?

Now for the stragglers who are perhaps lagging behind when it comes to their driving talents. We discovered the five area in the UK with the worst drivers are:

  1. West Midlands
  2. West Yorkshire
  3. Glasgow
  4. Staffordshire
  5. London

All five counties unfortunately scored in the lowest bracket for driving test pass rates. West Midlands had the lowest pass rate at 37%, while Staffordshire scored the highest of the bottom five, at 44%.

The West Midlands and Glasgow both scored low on their first time pass rates, at 38% and 39% respectively. West Yorkshire was in the bottom five for theory test passes at 44%, while London had the highest volume of driving-related searches for a score of one. 

When it came to nailing their practical at the first attempt, Staffordshire, Glasgow and the West Midlands also scored in the lowest bracket for passing first time with zero faults. 

It’s worth mentioning that London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire are three of the most populated regions in the UK.  As expected, they also had some of the highest numbers of driving tests taking place.

This suggests that population could have an indirect impact on pass rates. That means drivers shouldn’t get discouraged when it comes to hitting the road.

Which drivers know their theory?

Next up, the all-important theory test. We discovered the most eagle-eyed drivers out there were from: 

  1. Hertfordshire
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Surrey 
  4. Scottish Borders
  5. Aberdeen

Based on DVLA data, both Hertfordshire and Edinburgh drivers’ spotted those hazards from a mile off, with an overall theory test pass rate of 54%. Surrey aced those exam questions too, placing third with 52%.

While Scotland score highly again, as the Scottish Borders and Aberdeen follow with 51%, contributing to their overall top-five spot.

Where are the perfect passers?

Everybody aims to pass their driving test first time, but how many actually manage it? Here’s who made the top five:

  1. Cumbria
  2. Scottish Borders
  3. Northumberland
  4. Dundee
  5. Somerset

Placing first on the practical test grid are Cumbria, with an incredible first time pass rate at 68%. That’s 10% higher than second-place ever-presents from the Scottish Borders, who scored 58%.

Northumberland are close behind with 57%, while Dundee and Somerset both scored 56%. Dundee also has the best record of passing first time with zero faults, at 7.3%.

What are Britain’s drivers searching for?

Topping off our study, we looked at what driving-related search terms the nation’s drivers are googling. We’ve made the assumption that higher search rates mean less existing knowledge, which might impact driving abilities. For instance, knowing the national speed limit seems like basic knowledge. But more than 26,000 people are googling the answer every year.

Therefore, we looked at more than 50 popular search phrases, ranging from basic driving theory questions, to more specific vehicle-related terms.
Our research found that: 

  • “When is my MOT due?” has 893,000 annual searches
  • “What is a MOT?” is googled 32,000 times each year.
  • “What is the national speed limit” has 26,280 annual searches.
  • “How to change a tyre” and “What is the hard shoulder?” both received around 17,000 searches.
  • “How to check tyre pressure” and “How to pay car tax” are both searched more than 13,500 times.
  • “Can you park on double yellow lines?” was searched 10,230 times.

We also looked at the search volumes within specific areas and found that those searching the most were:

  1. London (94,360)
  2. West Midlands (21,050)
  3. Bristol (15,910)
  4. Glasgow (14,480)
  5. Aberdeen (14,448)

London’s search volume is considerably higher than the others, which is most likely due to the higher population. But, with most counties averaging between 1,000 and 7,000 searches, it does suggest these five areas have fallen slightly behind.

However, it could be a good thing. With people actively trying to fill any gaps in their knowledge.


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