Publication of Department for Infrastructure Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics 2018-19 Q3

Date published: 28 February 2019

The ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics 2018-19 Q3’ report, containing statistics for October to December 2018, is now available.

DVA operator enforcement statistics 2018-19 Quarter 3
DVA operator enforcement statistics 2018-19 Quarter 3

The publication is produced by the DVA Statistics Branch of the Department for Infrastructure and contains summary statistical, performance and trend information relating to the main functions of the DfI’s Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) and other vehicle licensing activity.  The publication is available on the DfI website at:


The key points for quarter 3 2018-19 are:

Vehicle Testing

Just over 260,000 vehicle tests were carried out by the DVA during quarter 3 of 2018/19, an increase of 11.5% compared to the equivalent quarter last year.  The vast majority of these (83%) were full tests, whilst the overall pass rate for these was 79%.

Vehicle Licensing

At over 16,000, the number of new vehicle first registrations in the period July to September 2018 showed a decrease of 4.5% from the equivalent period in 2017.  New car first registrations accounted for the majority of this decrease, down by a greater 7.8%.

There were just over 1,184,000 vehicles licensed in Northern Ireland at 30th September 2018, an increase of 1.6% on last year.  The overwhelming majority (83%) were cars.

Driver Theory Tests

The number of theory tests conducted during the quarter was broadly unchanged from 2017, and remains approximately 18,300. Six out of the last seven quarter-on-quarter comparisons have now shown decreases.  The pass rate for private car theory tests was 45%, a small decrease on last quarter, and the lowest figure recorded in our series.

Driving Practical Tests

Over 14,100 driving test applications were submitted during October to December 2018, a decrease of 1.7% on the equivalent quarter in 2017.  However during the same three-month period, the number of driving tests conducted increased by 3.4% to over 14,700.  The pass rate for these tests was 58.7%, down slightly on the 59.4% last quarter although this is broadly unchanged over the past five years.

Driver Licensing

Almost 60,500 licensing transactions were carried out by DVA during quarter 3 of 2018/19.  This represents a decrease of approximately 11% in comparison with the volume carried out in the corresponding quarter of 2017/18.  As the period of validity of a driving licence changed from 3 years to 10 years in 1985, this has resulted in a significant cyclical pattern with a peak renewal period during the middle of each decade.

At the 31st December 2018, there were almost 1,105,000 full and eligible licence holders with private cars / light vans entitlement.  This was a rise of 1.4% compared with the total twelve months ago.

Road Transport Licensing

At the 31st December 2018, there were approximately 10,500 licensed taxi drivers, down by 6% when compared with the same point of 2017.  Similarly, there were nearly 8,800 licensed taxi vehicles, down 0.4% on 2017.  For both drivers and vehicles, these represent the lowest figures in our series.


During October to December 2018, DVA Enforcement staff checked nearly 1,100 vehicles; of these, the largest volume was for HGVs, accounting for nearly two fifths of all the vehicles checked (39%).

DVA Target Performance Monitoring

For the 12 month period up to the end of December 2018, Agency performance against two of the three targets was below the target level.  Vehicle testing dropped for the fourth quarter in a row, from 86.9% to 85.2%.  Driver testing also decreased for the fourth consecutive quarter, from 87.3% to 85.2%.  The Driver Licensing target methodology is currently under review and we are aiming for revised figures to be included in the Quarter 4 publication.

Notes to editors: 

Background to Driver & Vehicle Agency ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics’

  1. This is the seventeenth edition of the quarterly publication ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics’, relating to October to December 2018.  The release is written and issued by the DVA Statistics Branch in the Department for Infrastructure.  
  2. Quarterly comparisons are included within the release to give some indication of change since the same quarter the previous year; however this is within the context that DVA schedules its operations across the business year to meet its business objectives.  Timing and scheduling differences between individual quarters within different years will occasionally produce apparent large movements in trend.  For a better understanding of changes in DVA volumes and performance over time, annual trend data in the tables should be reviewed.
  3. Data sources - The figures are derived mainly from administrative sources held within the DVA and the DfI’s Transport Regulation Unit. 
  4. Vehicle Registration - Although no longer the responsibility of DVA, for completeness and to provide continuity of reporting, detailed figures have been included in this publication relating to vehicle first registrations and vehicle licensing.  DVA statisticians receive, on a quarterly basis, quality assured vehicle registration and licensing extracts from the DVLA/DfT for the purposes of producing Official Statistics.  The DVLA/DfT are, and continue to be, responsible for all vehicle licensing and registration enquiries.  Due to publication timing differences with the DfT, who release the headline UK figures; the latest available NI vehicle first registration figures are up to end-September 2018.
  5. Future publication dates - The Driver & Vehicle Agency ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ is published every quarter at pre-announced release dates, which are available from the GOV.UK website at:
  6. Publication copies - Electronic copies of the ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator, and Enforcement Statistics 2018-19 Q3’ can be downloaded from:
  7. A companion Infographic is also available on our website at:   
  8. Official Statistics
    This is a National Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. You can find further information about the Code of Practice at:
  9. For further information please contact:
DVA Statistics Branch,
Driver and Vehicle Agency,
Annex 4, Belfast Test Centre
66 Balmoral Road,
BT12 6QL

10.   All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007 or email: Out of hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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