The number of novice drivers opting for an automatic transmission is on the rise, as more than a million motorists now hold exclusive automatic transmission licenses in Britain.
Since March 2019, the number of drivers learning only with self-driving vehicles has increased by 25 percent, while as many as three in ten learners are currently learning in self-driving cars.
Two years ago there were 850,000 drivers who only had permits for automatic cars, while now there are 1.07 million.
By comparison, the number of driving license holders who can drive any car only increased by 0.6 percent.
There are over a million drivers using only automated vehicles in the UK, but the pass rate for automated driving tests remains below 40% compared to almost 50% for manual tests.
The number of motorists opting for car-only test drives will increase as electric cars become increasingly popular.
While some manufacturers, including Toyota, are working on developing “simulated manual” gearboxes, it’s likely that most electric vehicles will have automatic transmissions.
With a slated ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel engines coming in 2030, it’s likely to spell the end of practical manual driving testing around 2047, insurer Direct Line previously predicted.
And this transition away from the gear stick has already begun.
WMen were found to be three times more likely to learn to drive on an automatic transmission than men despite only 35 per cent of cars being registered to female owners in 2019.
And, according to a study by Dayinsure, three out of five new drivers think it’s easier to get their license if they don’t have to worry about changing gears, which seems to be the main reason for the change.
But, if you’re looking to pass an auto-only driving test, you may run into some barriers, such as a lack of instructors and driver preparation.
Dayinsure research found that on average just 8 per cent of driving instructors teach in an automated vehicle across the UK, with cities such as London, Nottingham and Birmingham having up to 20 per cent of their instructors. as automatic.
By comparison, learner drivers in Stirling, York and Cambridge might be able to stick with their manual instructors, as the cities have an overwhelming number of manual instructors, currently around 97 per cent.
If you’re lucky enough to get your auto instructor and you’re on the road, the next thing you need to worry about is passing the exam.
While 60 percent of beginning drivers think it’s easier to pass the test in an automatic car, in reality, passing rates show that this is often not the case.
The average pass rate since 2007 has been a relatively stable 39 percent for automatic students, but it is 47 percent for students in manual cars, even though much of the test is the same.
However, there are some test centers with very high automatic pass rates, with Pwllheli in Wales being the highest at 80 per cent, followed by Hexham in the North East and Arbroath in Scotland.
In contrast, automatic pass rates are lowest in Manchester’s Bury at a measly 23 per cent, followed by Monmouth, Scotland and East Kilbride, Scotland.
> Read our auto test guide: are they a better option with electric cars?
“It’s becoming more and more common to hear from students that they don’t see the point of learning from a manual, when they will soon be forced to go the EV route in a few years.”
Dayinsure’s Nicholas Shaw added: “It’s clear that as the UK switches to electric vehicles, we will continue to see an increase in the number of students opting for automatic licenses too.” The important thing now is that there are enough instructors to meet the growing demand.’
Auto Success Tips
|Higher approval rates||Lower pass rates|
|Arbroath 73.7||73%||East of Kilbride||25%|
|Bridlington 72.7||72%||Erith (London)||25%|
So what can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of getting your auto license the first time? Driving experts who said it’s all about being prepared.
Bagnall said: ‘People assume that learning to drive and taking the test in an automatic car would be easier than in a manual one. At the end of the day, you don’t need to worry about clutch control and gear shifting, which we know is a big problem for some students.
‘However, some students find that having control of the gear change helps with their concentration levels and allows them to focus their attention on the road around them.’
Bagnall added: “It’s important to note that whether learning to drive in an automatic or manual vehicle, one of the things we see on a daily basis here at Driving Test Success is students taking their test before they are fully prepared.” .
“We know how desperate students are to gain their freedom, especially after waiting months for a test date, but unless students are fully prepared, they are much more likely to leave the test center without their full driver’s license.” “.
While pass rates for automated drivers are lower, instructors say this is likely because students are likely to master basic skills sooner, which is often mistaken for test preparation.
Meanwhile, Mark Oakley, managing director of the AA Driving School, said that while they’re likely to make the same mistakes manual drivers do, like checking mirrors or steering control, often it’s simply not being prepared.
Oakley said: ‘Students may find an automatic car easier to learn because there are no gears and no clutch to operate. This may help explain the difference in approval rate.
“Automatic learners may also develop mastery of basic skills earlier and this could be confused with test preparation when in fact they still need more time to develop correct decision making along the way.
Observation, particularly at junctions, is often where students fall short. Correct use of mirrors and steering control are also among the main reasons why students do not pass the practical exam.’
Seb Goldin of RED Driving School agreed, suggesting that there isn’t much difference in the way manual and automatic drivers pass or fail their tests.
Goldin added that automated drivers often fall short in the same areas, such as having poor observation at junctions, as well as poor awareness, planning, and response to other road users.
He said: ‘The expression ‘practice makes perfect’ is entirely apt to understand what automatic learners can do to improve their chances of success on the test.
“Learning in an automatic car is not a short cut to becoming a good and safe driver, and international license holders should also spend time with a professional driving instructor so that they are fully aware of what is expected of them on the test. “.