A 31-year-old UK woman, who has spent 14 years trying to get her driving licence, is desperate to give up her title as Britain’s Worst Driver.
Janine Mars, a construction worker from Chatham, Kent, has spent more than 5,000 pounds on 250 driving lessons over 14 years, and failed four tests.
“The question of whether some people are congenitally unsuited to controlling a clutch has been raised by news of a Kent woman who hasn’t passed her test after 250 lessons, earning her the title of Britain’s Worst Driver,” The Independent reported today.
“I think I will learn one day,” she said. “I just find there’s so much to think about, what with the steering wheel, pedals, gear lever and everything that’s happening on the road. It doesn’t come naturally.”
In terms of failed tests, Mars is by no means the worst offender. That honour goes to an unnamed 42-year-old man from Stoke-on-Trent who failed 36 driving tests before passing on his 37th go.
There is currently no limit on the number of times you can take your test to get the driving license.
Figures from the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show that some people have extraordinary determination. One 28-year-old woman from Southwark has failed the theory test 110 times, while a 30-year-old man from Peterborough hasn’t passed after 86 attempts.
The two people who have racked up the most failed driving tests are both men, and analysis of the DVSA figures offers ammunition for those who believe gender is relevant. Of the top 20 people who repeatedly failed their theory test, 15 are men, and five are women.
But when it comes to failing the practical, women fare worse, accounting for 14 out of the top 20 repeat offenders. In practice, gender and age are less likely to be factors than nervousness and spatial awareness.
David Crundall, a professor of psychology at Nottingham Trent University, says that people who fail repeatedly in driving tests should look for possible reasons.
“Two or three fails and you can attribute it to factors such as the sun in your eyes, wet roads, or nervousness,” he says. “But with people who come back for their fifth or sixth test, you will find there’s definitely something amiss.”
In countries such as Austria, psychological tests are a part of the driving examination process. But not in the UK, which Professor Crundall feels is a mistake.
“In this country, what we have is medical evaluations, and visual examinations for fitness to drive. But there isn’t anywhere you can go to assess the psychological aspects.
Mars has now booked a week off work to take an intensive course to learn once and for all. “I think that’s the only way,” she says.
“I’ve been having one lesson a week for years and it’s no good. I need to spend a week just driving," she says.