Publication of DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics Annual 2017-2018

Date published: 24 May 2018

The DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics annual 2017-2018, containing statistics for the 2017/18 financial year, is now available.

Statistical press release

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 ASRB website at:

Key Points

The key points for 2017/18 are:

Key Performance Targets

  • The vehicle testing performance target was to appoint 92% of vehicle test applications within 21 days or, on request, at a later date. During the year, the Agency achieved 97%, well in excess of target levels.
  • The driver testing waiting time performance target was to appoint 92% of practical driving test applications within 28 days or, on request, at a later date. The Agency achieved 97%, well in excess of target levels.
  • The driver licensing processing time’s performance target for 2017/18 was to process 95% of complete applications within 10 working days. During the year, the Agency achieved 95.8%. This figure is based on a sample survey of driver licensing transactions, the resulting upper and lower confidence intervals were 94.5% and 96.9%, at the 95% level.  This estimate is almost 20 percentage points higher than that observed in the previous year.

Vehicle Testing

  • The most popular booking method for vehicle test applications was the internet booking system which received 67% of all applications, up 6 percentage points on the previous year.
  • During 2017/18, the Driver and Vehicle Agency provided nearly 1,100,000 vehicle test appointments across all categories, marking an increase of 2% on 2016/17. This is over 200,000 additional appointments, or one-fifth more, on the 897,000 provided in 2008/09.  There was also an increase of more than 1% in applications, from the 1,099,000 received during 2016/17.
  • During 2017/18, the overall pass rate for full vehicle tests was 81%, which is a series joint high and is almost 3 percentage points above the series low pass rate of 78% observed in 2011/12. The overall pass rate of 81% in 2017/18 was the same as that recorded in the previous year.  The pass rate varied by test category, with those in the larger volume tests ranging from 93% for motorcycle tests to 76% for light goods vehicle tests.

Driver Testing

  • During 2017/18, the DVA provided almost 59,000 driving test appointments, marking a decrease of 5% on the previous year when nearly 62,000 test appointments were provided.
  • During 2017/18, the overall pass rate for driving tests was roughly 58%, an increase of 1 percentage point from 2016/17, but more than 10 percentage points higher than the series low of just under 48% seen in 2008/09, and ranged from just over 54% for Private Cars to more than 76% for Motorcycles.

Theory Testing

  • DVA carried out over 70,000 theory tests, approximately 7% fewer than in 2016/17, and of which the vast majority (85%) were Private Car tests. The pass rate for theory tests varied from a low of below 21% for Taxis to a high of approaching 87% for the Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) Hazard Perception test.
  • For Private Cars there has been a strong decline in pass rates, from above 66% in 2008/09 to less than 48% in 2017/18. Part of this longer term reduction will be attributable to the changes in the suite of theory test questions introduced in January 2012, designed to encourage more thorough preparation by candidates.

Instructor Registration

  • At 31st March 2018, there were almost 1,100 Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) registered, and a further 54 Approved Motorcycle Instructors. This represents close to a 4% reduction on ADI numbers and is the sixth successive annual fall from a series high of over 1,300 ADIs in 2011/12.

Vehicle Licensing and Registration

  • From January to December 2017, over 66,000 UK vehicle first registrations were registered with a Northern Ireland address. This was just over a 6% decrease on the 2016 figure. Private cars accounted for around 4 in every 5 first registrations.
  • There were over 1,158,000 vehicles licensed in Northern Ireland at 31 December 2017, an increase of over 2% compared with the previous year. The most popular registered car in Northern Ireland was the Volkswagen Golf with close to 41,000 registered variants and making up 4% of the registered Private and Light Goods vehicle stock.

Driver Licence Stock

  • At the 31st March 2018, there were over 1,091,000 Full and Eligible licence holders with Private Cars/Light Vans entitlement in Northern Ireland. Males accounted for 51% of this total.
  • Based on Mid-Year Population Estimates for Northern Ireland in 2016, it is estimated that three-quarters (75%) of Northern Ireland’s population aged 17+ had a full and eligible license with entitlement for Private Cars / Light Vans.

Road Transport Licensing

  • As at the 31st March 2018, there were over 11,000 licensed Taxi Drivers in Northern Ireland, down by nearly 8% from the previous year. There were also around 1,400 licensed Taxi Operators, down by 17% from 2017. Of these, well over 4 in 5 (84%) were classified as a small operator providing for up to two taxis to be listed on their licence.


  • The 2017/18 Random Taxi Compliance Survey estimated the non-compliance rate at just over 10% See note 4.  This rate means that, at any given time, around 1 in 10 taxis on NI roads are estimated to be in breach of current taxi regulations, either because they are committing a traffic offence and/or have a roadworthiness defect.

Enforcement Activities

  • DVA Enforcement staff checked almost 5,900 vehicles, an increase of 2% on the previous year; of these, the largest volume was for Goods Vehicles, accounting for nearly half of all vehicles checked.
  • DVA enforcement officers issued over £270,000 worth of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) during the year. More than four-fifths (86%) of these were issued to HGV's.



Notes to editors: 

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

  1. Background - This is the latest annual edition of the Driver & Vehicle Agency ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ relating to 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018. The release is written and issued by DVA Statistics Branch in the Department for Infrastructure. This is the third edition of the annual publication under its new departmental title having previously been released by the former DoE.
  2. Data sources - The figures are derived mainly from administrative sources held within the DfI’s Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) and its Transport Regulation Unit. Compliance and Evasion surveys provide the source for information related to compliance and evasion in Section Eight of the publication. 
  3. 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-December 2017.
  4. The Random Taxi Survey was conducted by carrying out roadside checks on vehicles which could easily be identified as taxis, without fare paying passengers on board.  These checks only considered vehicle roadworthiness, appropriate fire extinguisher and signage, and assessed whether an operator, vehicle and driver licence were in force.  Consequently some significant legislative requirements such as those in relation to permitted use, appropriate use of the taximeter and keeping accurate booking records, could not be included in the scope of the survey.  Furthermore, private vehicles being used illegally to provide taxi services, were also out of scope.
  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.
  6. Publication copies - Electronic copies of the ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ 2017/18 is available at: https://Driver & Vehicle Agency Activity Statistics 
  7. Infographic – a companion Infographic is also available.   
  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.
  9. For further information please contact: DVA Statistics Branch, Belfast Test Centre, 66 Balmoral Road, Malone Lower, Belfast BT12 6QL
    Tel (press enquiries): 028 9054 0007
    Tel (public enquiries): 02890 547989 (Text relay prefix 18001)
    Website: DfI Statistics and Research
  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 via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  11. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the Department’s internal records management system. The Department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
  12. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra (external link opens in a new window / tab) and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure


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