Conference Proceeding

Driving Tests: Reliability and the Relationship Between Test Errors and Accidents

Authors: ,


In the British practical driving test, serious or dangerous faults are those judged to involve potential or actual danger, and a single such fault results in test failure. As part of a wider project to review the driving test, TRL conducted a study of test-retest reliability. Test and retest outcomes differed for a substantial proportion of candidates. The paper argues that inconsistent performance on the part of the candidate is likely to explain much of this apparent unreliability. Faults that are less serious are also recorded during the test but few candidates make the 16 of them necessary to fail. Self-reported accidents during the first six months of post-test driving were analysed together with driving test records for approximately 30,000 drivers. Statistical modelling suggested that people who pass the driving test having made large numbers of the less serious faults may be intrinsically less safe as drivers, but that they also tend to drive less overall, and less often at night. This reduces (and for men removes) the association between test faults and the actual number of accidents reported.


How to Cite: Baughan, C. & Sexton, B. (2001) “Driving Tests: Reliability and the Relationship Between Test Errors and Accidents”, Driving Assessment Conference. 1(2001). doi: