Are automatic tests on the rise?

More learner drivers than ever before are choosing automatic vehicles for their driving exams, signalling the demise of the manual gearbox.

2022-2023 data shows that the number of driving tests conducted only in automatic vehicles has reached a record high, with 324,000 tests conducted in automatic vehicles last year.

This was the largest number of automatic driving tests ever recorded, they are up by 33% from 2022.

According to statistics released by the DVSA, tests conducted in automated vehicles accounted for over one-third of the 865,000 driver qualification checks conducted in the previous years. However, saying this more drivers failed their tests in automatic cars than manual ones, with 48% of candidates passing in manual cars comparted to 43% in automatics.


Disappearing manuals

Mark Winn, the DVSA’s chief driving examiner, said: “DVSA constantly reviews tests for all vehicle types to take account of changes in technology, driving habits, regulations and highway infrastructure, as well as to respond to accident trends.

“We have already started work to look at the impact of electric vehicles on driver and rider education and assessment and to plan for any changes that this shift in vehicle type and use will need.”

 Passing an automated exam disqualifies learners from driving cars with manual gearboxes; they must pass an additional test to be able to drive manual vehicles.

An industry association called the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders states that in 2022, two out of every three vehicles on British roads had a manual transmission.

Over the next ten years, new manual cars will become rare as the government gets closer to banning petrol and diesel vehicles in 2035.


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