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Driving tests around the world

By raccars Published

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A recent survey by magazine, Auto Express, showed that British motorists would like to see the law changed, so that foreign drivers are obliged to pass a UK driving test after living in the country for just a month. The survey highlights concerns that UK roads are hosting a number of drivers who have obtained licences in countries where testing processes are far less stringent than in Britain.

Four per cent of survey respondents suggested foreign drivers should be subjected to a 'refresher course' after a month in the UK, while 6% of those questioned felt a UK licence should be granted automatically to foreign licence holders.

Less than 10% of those participating in the survey supported keeping the law in its existing state, which allows foreign licence holders the right to drive in the UK for 12 months after arriving or in stating residency. After this period is up, foreign licence holders are currently obliged to apply for a provisional UK driving licence and pass the standard test, the same as everyone else.

EU licence holders are not required to change to a UK licence, as long as theirs is valid in their home country or unless UK law requests a renewal, for example with age.

It seems concerns may be valid, as there are huge variations in driving test standards around the globe.

In Mexico, the legal driving age is 18 but there is no driving test applicable before obtaining a licence, which can be bought for less than £30. Pakistan requires a theory test and a short practical from age 18. However, there is no requirement for a minimum number of practice hours and the tests are so easy that they can be completed on the same day. By contrast, Colombia issues licences at the age of 16 but does impose a fairly comprehensive training programme before you're allowed to drive. This starts with a theory test to be able to obtain a learner's permit, after which 40 hours of lessons must be completed, to graduate to a provisional licence. At 17, or after six months of holding a provisional licence, the next step is a conditional full licence. These conditions are removed to become a full licence holder aged 21, after another practical test.

South Africa and Australia make it much harder, with a stringent process for obtaining a licence, while in Japan, candidates must check there are no cats or children hiding underneath a car, and can fail if it is deemed they didn't bend down low enough to perform a comprehensive enough survey.

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