ASPIRING drivers can take heart from new figures which show that more than half of all driving tests taken in Hartlepool are passed with flying colours.
The figures from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) have revealed that 51 per cent of driving tests taken at the Hartlepool Test Centre result in passes, which is well above the national average.
In 2012-13, 1,925 out of 3,774 driving tests taken at the Newburn Bridge Industrial Estate Test Centre were successful, giving a pass rate of 51 per cent compared to 47.1 per cent nationally.
The statistics also show that Hartlepool’s learner drivers are streets ahead of their regional competition, with closest test centres in Sunderland (46.9 per cent) and Middlesbrough (50.8 per cent) both recording inferior pass rates for 2012-2013.
Driving instructor Simon Foster, who runs Hartlepool-based driving school Star Pass, said: “In the past I used to teach in Middlesbrough and Stockton, but I still used to bring students into Hartlepool to drive and do their tests.
“The Hartlepool routes are a bit quieter than Middlesbrough, with less people pulling out on roads and roundabouts.”
Despite Hartlepool’s above average performance, this year’s figures still represent a drop in pass rates from 2011-12, when 53.3 per cent of tests taken in Hartlepool resulted in passes.
But they do show a marked improvement on 2010/11, aa 46.6 per cent and 2009/10 at 45.8 per cent.
Lee Clark, managing director of Pass N Go Driving School, said: “Obviously the test hasn’t become any easier, if anything it has got even harder with things like the independent driving stage.
“So the figures are great and show that the quality of the teaching has gone up in recent years.”
Mr Foster, from Star Pass, who worked for numerous driving schools before turning independent two years ago, said: “I would never put anybody in for a test unless they were ready for it, you need to remember that all people drive at a different speed and standard.”
Another notable trend from the DSA’s figures is that 2012/13 continued the year-on-year decrease in the number of tests taken in Hartlepool since 2008-09.