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Driving test hits 75th birthday

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The Government has hailed the safety impact the driving test has had on Britain's roads as it reaches the 75th year since compulsory testing was introduced.

After being brought in on June 1 1935, a Mr J Beene was the first person to pass his driving test and the number of deaths on Britain's roads dropped by 1,000 within a year of its introduction.

In 1934, when there were 1.5 million cars in the UK, there were 7,343 road fatalities. In 2008, the number of vehicles had jumped to about 34 million but there were only 2,538 deaths.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "The driving test is not just a rite of passage, it has helped save thousands of lives on our roads. High standards of driver training and assessment are an essential contribution to helping Britain's roads remain among the safest in the world."

The test has been cancelled twice - during the second world war and Suez crisis, when examiners were put on fuel duty. Candidates still had to use hand signals until 1975 and the theory quiz was introduced 14 years ago as a further test before people could splash out on vehicles and car insurance.

© Press Association 2010