The total number of learner drivers looking to get on the road by booking an automatic-only driving test has increased significantly, as they adapt to the changing car landscape.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) latest figures, more than 324,000 automatic-only driving tests were conducted in 2022-23, compared to less than 88,000 in 2012-13, representing almost a fourfold increase.
While manual transmissions remain the most popular with those taking their practical driving test today, the new analysis shows that one in five (20%) tests are now for an automatic-only licence. In comparison, just one in 20 (6%) of driving tests were for automatics a decade ago.
Dan Jones, Operations Manager of TrackDays.co.uk, says: "The shift to booking automatic-only driving tests could represent a shift in mentality from motorists looking to get on the road."
"As the majority of EVs on the road today are auto, many learners will be left wondering if there is any value in learning to drive a manual vehicle, when the cars they’re most likely to be driving in the future will likely feature an automatic gearbox."
Furthermore, the data set also revealed a demographic shift between genders wanting to take automatic-only tests, with just over one third of tests (36%) booked by males in 2022-23. However, only within the last three years has this increased, with it stubbornly staying at around a quarter of the bookings for seven years.
Dan adds that a change in perception may have influenced booking trends: "We live in a much more fast-paced society than even five years ago. The hassle-free mechanics of driving an automatic car seem to be much more appealing to those wishing to get out on the road quickly."
"With many supercars now coming with semi-automatic gearboxes, even those petrol heads aspiring to drive one can do so on an automatic-only licence, provided there isn’t a clutch pedal in the car."
Junior drivers may like to know that, as well as our Driving Lessons that can be taken before they turn 17, TrackDays.co.uk is offering a limited time event, with a Junior Supercar Circuit Drive at Castle Combe on Sunday 5th November, where 10 - 16 year olds can take cars such as a BMW i8, Ferrari 430, Jaguar F-Type R or a Lamborghini Gallardo around the famous UK track.