Learners who pass first time do make the safest drivers

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Drivers who pass their test at the first attempt really are safer motorists than those who take multiple shots at getting a licence, according to new data.

With learner drivers in some parts of the UK soon to be allowed to restart lessons and testing, new analysis of accident rates shows that first-time passers are less likely than any other group to have a crash during their driving lifetime.

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The data also shows that the number of crashes a driver is involved in rises in line with the number of attempts it took them to pass their test.

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The figures, based on research by MoneySuperMarket, show that drivers who pass first time have an average of 1.6 crashes over their lifetime, with one in three (36 per cent) never crashing. They also show that they are the least likely to have a crash in their first three years of driving - generally a hotspot for incidents among new drivers - with fewer than half (47 per cent) being involved in a collision.

Those who take two attempts to obtain their licence are slightly more likely to crash in the first three years (49 per cent) and have only slightly more accidents over their driving career, at an average of 1.7.

However, for drivers who struggled to pass, the data shows driving continues to be a challenge. Those who take five attempts to pass go on to have an average of five crashes over their driving lifetime, with a third of them having that number in their first three years.

For those who need six goes to pass, the average accident rate is 6.6 across their time at the wheel.

The figures also revealed that Londoners have twice as many crashes as drivers from outside the capital. The average Londoner has crashed four times since passing their test, more than twice the next closest region - the North West at 1.9. Welsh drivers appear to be the safest overall, with an average accident rate of 1.5.

Dave Merrick, car insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “Lockdown has resulted in driving tests being put on pause – so learner drivers across the country will be keen to see restrictions eased so they can get back behind the wheel as soon as possible.

“Many people have long argued whether the number of driving tests you take has any bearing on the safety of your driving. Our research indicates that it does, with over a third of those who pass first time being accident free.

“if you’ve had an accident in the past, it could mean that you’re paying more for your car insurance – an accident can add up to £75 to your car insurance premium.”

Regional data