39th time lucky! Stoke-on-Trent driving test figures reveal learner who failed 38 times
A HAPLESS learner driver failed his test an incredible 38 times before finally gaining his licence, it has emerged.
The unlucky 40-year-old spent £2,356 on the practical exams before instructors decided he was fit to get behind the wheel on his own at the 39th attempt.
He is just one of hundreds of desperate learners who have had to retake their test dozens of times over the last eight years.
Data obtained by The Sentinel reveals how, each year, more than 100 people across Stoke-on-Trent failed their test at least six times before passing – at a cost of £62 a time.
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The figures show how five women, all aged 26, took 18 attempts to pass, while four 31-year-old men each passed on the 17th attempt.
Meanwhile, in the 2011/12 financial year, 95 women aged between 18 and 46 failed six attempts, compared to 59 men in the same age range.
However, the same period saw 24 more men re-take their theory tests than women, with two men taking the written exam 15 times before they were successful.
The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act from the Driving Standards Agency, also reveal:
In 2005/6, it took a 67-year-old woman seven attempts to pass her driving test.
In 2008/9, a 53-year-old man failed nine times before passing.
In 2009/10, seven men re-sat their practical tests more than 15 times.
Driving instructors today said they were surprised but not shocked to hear the numbers.
Diane Hall has published "L of a way to pass," which offeres advice on how to pass a driving test at the first time of asking.
She said poor observation at junctions, use of mirrors and signals are among the most common reasons for failure.
The 48-year-old, of Swynnerton, said: "It is not about the person's physical ability or their road awareness, it is more to do with their lack of planning ahead when they are driving.
"A lot of people mess up on that, especially in busy places such as Hanford roundabout.
"They misread or ignore the road signs and they have a lack of awareness.
"People think if you are a young, white, English man, then you are a better driver, but that is not always the case. Some women are very good, natural drivers." Pat Bennett, who runs the Solitaire School of Motoring, in Uttoxeter, said: "There are a lot of reasons why people fail their tests, but the main one is that they just don't check their mirrors enough.
"I would say women drivers are a lot more aware of danger on the roads than men. Men take more chances.
"The main piece of advice I would give to people is listen to what you're are told."
Barry Proctor, owner of Talke-based haulage firm Barry Proctor Services, believes driving standards have fallen. He said: "Sometimes people fail their tests because of another driver's actions. Maybe they don't indicate where they are going on a roundabout or turn without signalling. But that comes down to the fact that most drivers don't concentrate as much as they used to. A lot of people drive while they are on their phones or text.
"So they don't pay as much attention as they should and it can be very dangerous."