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Automatic driving tests are on the rise – study

New research finds that by 2026, 25 per cent of all driving tests conducted will be in cars with two pedals.

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One in four driving tests will be in automatic cars by 2026 – a trend that is only set to increase once the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect, a new study has predicted.

The prediction comes from AA Driving School which has used new data from the Driving Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA). The agency found that in 2022/23, 17 per cent of all passes were conducted in cars with two pedals, compared with 13.4 per cent the previous year (2021/22), while in 2013/14, just five per cent of people passed their tests in autos.

The rise in numbers are to do with the number of instructors using automatics for their vehicles to teach their students, said the driving school. In January of this year, 21 per cent of AA franchisees were using automatics compared with 79 per cent using manuals.

The figures are set to increase even further as the 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars gets nearer, as electric cars use automatic gearboxes.

Camilla Benitz, Managing Director, AA Driving School said: “As EVs and hybrids become more popular due to lower day-to-day running costs and as the impending ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars gets closer, more people are choosing to learn in an automatic.”

She added: “We see this trend continuing and the need for manual tuition declining, though manual licences will remain important for some drivers as they will want the option to drive a larger variety of vehicles.”

The data collected also showed that older learners are more likely to have lessons in an automatic than younger learners. Of the school’s current automatic pupils, 43 per cent are over 30 (10 per cent of overall pupils) compared to just 17 per cent who are 17-20 years old (four per cent of overall pupils).

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