One driving lesson will stay with Jason Walker forever – the day he wrote off his instructor’s car.
It happened while he tried to do a three-point turn.
“It was my first try doing the manoeuvre, and as I was turning towards the kerb the instructor said I was going too fast and shouted at me to brake.
“But I panicked and hit the accelerator by mistake and wrapped the car around a telegraph pole. It was a write-off”
“I have been driving for 13 years now, though, and only had one crash in that time.”
Jason may have failed his first 11 attempts at the driving test but 13 years later he is confident about his abilities.
His story may just give some hope to those drivers who have taken up to 21 attempts in a calendar year to pass their tests.
Following a Freedom of Information request, the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed that in 2016, one driver passed on their 21st try that year, while a learner in 2018 failed 19 times before passing.
Jason has some sympathy for these drivers.
The office worker from Crawley says: “I was 20 when I passed my test in Sutton, south London.
“I was trying to get a job as a reporter and needed a licence. I started learning in October 2002, took my first test in May 2003 and finally passed in June 2006.”
Jason said he was motivated to keep trying because his parents had initially started him on the journey to driving by paying for his lessons.
“It was the money my parents had spent and the feeling that I would let them down if I didn’t carry on.”
‘Fine line between confidence and dangerous’
Andy Carroll took his driving test 11 times over four years before he finally passed.
He said: “After one test, the examiner turned to me, looked me in the eyes and said ‘Sir, there is a fine line between confident and dangerous’.”
The Surrey-based drama teacher was given a set of lessons for his 17th birthday as a gift from his parents.
“By the time it came to my fifth test, my parents decided to change tactics and said they would alternate with me when it came for paying for the tests. I don’t know how much confidence they had in my by that point!”
He started to learn with a family friend in Leeds who had helped others pass their tests but then had to change instructors when he moved to the south of England for university.
“I think I was a bit overconfident and didn’t take much care when I first started lessons. I was also a teenager who saw all their friends pass their driving tests and it was something that we all viewed as something to do.
“My friend passed his theory test in 11 minutes, so I said I was going to do it in 10. I whizzed through that test in 10 minutes but I failed it the first time too. It was all about taking more care.”
He eventually passed his practical the day before his theory test ran out and now regularly drives his school minibuses and his car across the country
Freedom to roam
For 26-year-old Maya Patel, passing her test on the 11th try led to freedom.
The blogger and teacher from Wolverhampton says she was inspired to keep trying thanks to her mother.
“My mum couldn’t drive and was reliant on my dad and sister to take her places. She kept encouraging me to keep going.”
Maya, who has blogged about her journey learning how to drive, says she was fine in her lessons but would get nervous about manoeuvres when it came to the tests.
“But when I eventually passed – it led to my first job in media where the requirement was to have a valid driving licence. And then when I started travelling and living abroad, it gave me the confidence to drive around Vietnam on a motorbike.
“I’m a very driven person and wasn’t going to stop and give up.”