Nervous About Your Driving Test? Be Thankful You Live in the UK!


40 minutes of driving on the roads with the examiner’s eyes on every move you make, having to reverse around a corner without drifting off to the opposite side of the road, and making a hill start with just the right amount of pressure on the clutch – being a little bit nervous about your upcoming practical driving test is only to be expected. However, if you knew what your overseas counterparts had to endure just to secure their first driving licence, you may start to see the UK driving test in a whole different light. In fact, in comparison, it may even seem easy!

There are major differences in driving tests all around the world, with South Africa’s K53 test being particularly notorious for its complexity (fancy motorway driving during your test? No? Then it’s best not to learn to drive on South Africa’s roads!). However, what’s very interesting to look at is how the driving test differs across Europe. In many situations, the UK shows a strong solidarity with its continental neighbours, but in terms of driving regulations, it certainly stands alone. If you were taking your driving test across the Channel, here are some of the more unusual aspects you’d need to complete in order to get that pass:

Compulsory Lessons

In the UK, anyone with a provisional driving licence can opt to book and take their theory and practical driving tests, regardless of how many driving lessons they have had (although it’s not recommended taking your test without having lessons, for obvious reasons!). This offers a great amount of flexibility which allows for learners to take their test once they are ready. In Austria, however, learners are unable to take their test unless they have received a minimum of 32 x 50 minute theory lessons, while in Croatia, drivers must have had at least 3 months of practical lessons in order to take their test.

In Depth Health Checks

Before taking your UK practical driving test, you’ll be required to demonstrate good eyesight by reading a number plate from a distance of 20 metres (or 20.5 metres for old style number plates). Providing you have no trouble with your eyesight, or you wear corrective lenses, this shouldn’t pose a problem. If you were taking your driving test in Germany, however, you would need to book a full eye health check up with your optician, and have them declare in writing that your eyesight is up to scratch before being issued your license. Similarly, in Greece, you’d need the all-clear from your GP.

Some people believe that our European neighbours have the right idea in making the driving test more challenging, and in adding additional regulations, and there have been many attempts at petitions in the UK to adopt some of the continent’s concepts. What we need to be asking ourselves, however, is if it’s actually the UK that’s doing it right. Figures show that the UK has one of the lowest levels of driving fatalities in Europe. Interestingly, Germany, Greece, Austria, and Croatia, which all have stricter regulations, all have higher numbers of fatalities. Whether you like the UK driving test or not, it’s clear we’re doing something right!