Publication of DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics Quarter 1 2017-2018

Date published: 14 September 2017

The DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics Quarter 1 2017-2018, containing statistics for April to June 2017, is now available.

DRD statistics publication

The publication is produced by the Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch (ASRB) 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:

The key points for Quarter 1 2017/18 are:

Driver Testing

  • Nearly 15,500 Driving Test Applications were submitted to the DVA and close to 15,100 Tests Conducted representing a decrease of 9% and 7% respectively on the equivalent period last year. This is the first like-for-like quarterly fall in applications recorded since the series low in 2013/14.

The pass rate for all categories of Driving Tests was over 58%, up by approaching 3 percentage points on the rate recorded in the equivalent quarter last year.

Vehicle Testing

  • Around 285,000 Vehicle Tests were carried out by the DVA (Full tests and Retests), an increase of over 1% compared to the equivalent quarter last year. The vast majority of these (84%) were Full Tests.
  • The most popular booking method for vehicle test applications was the internet booking system which received almost 64% of all applications, up over two percentage points on the previous year.
  • The overall pass rate for Full Tests was approximately 81%, a decrease of just under one percentage point compared with the same period last year.

Theory Testing

  • The number of Theory Tests Conducted fell by over 10% to around 17,300. This is the first decrease in the year-on-year quarterly figures for such tests since 2012.

Vehicle Licensing and Registration

  • The number of new vehicle first registrations in the period January – March 2017 showed an increase from the last equivalent quarter, up by slightly less than 2%. Within this new car first registrations increased by a lesser 1% and have fluctuated around the nineteen thousand mark since increasing to this level in 2014.
  • The top make for private cars registered for the first time during the January to March quarter was Ford, accounting for nearly 2,400 such registrations and up by over 3% on the same time last year. In contrast, the second largest make, Volkswagen at just under 1,900 first registrations, experienced around a 3% reduction compared to 12 months previous.

Driver Licensing

  • Slightly more than 70,000 ordinary licensing transactions were carried out by DVA during April to June 2017. This represented a decrease of 10% in comparison with the volume carried out in the corresponding quarter of 2016 and will partially reflect the natural reduction as we move towards the end of the current cyclical peak renewal period.

Road Transport Licensing

  • At the 30 June 2017, there were less than 11,700 licensed Taxi Drivers in Northern Ireland, down by 11% when compared with the same point of 2016. This is a continuation of the declining trend with numbers down by over a quarter on the series high of around 15,800 recorded at the end of 2013. This reduction may have been exacerbated by the introduction of a new taxi driver theory and practical driving test which was introduced on 31st Oct 2014.

Enforcement Activities

  • Over 600 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued by DVA Enforcement Officers. This represents an increase of nearly 70% on the equivalent period of 2016. During the same time, the number of convictions increased by over a third to 113.

Performance Monitoring

  • For the 12 month period up to end-June 2017, both vehicle and driver testing waiting time performance, at around 98% and 93% respectively, have been above Agency target levels to provide 92% of appointments within 28 days or, upon request, at a later date.
  • Over the same period driver licensing processing performance stood at just over 73%, still well below the Agency target of 95% of complete driver licence applications to be issued within 10 working days. Performance had been adversely impacted by the introduction of the new Replacement Driver System in November 2016 but recent trends would suggest that further reductions in performance have now been stymied.

Notes to editors: 

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

1. Background - This is the latest quarterly edition of the Driver & Vehicle Agency ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ relating to April to June 2017. The report is written and issued by Analysis, Statistics & Research Branch in the Department for Infrastructure. This is the fourth edition of the quarterly 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. 

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 NI vehicle first registrations and vehicle licensing. DVA statisticians receive, on a quarterly basis, north of Ireland specific 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-March 2017.

4. 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:

5. Publication copies - Electronic copies of the ‘DfI Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ Quarter 1, April to June 2017 is available at:

6. Infographic – a companion Infographic is also available on our website at:

7. 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:

For further information please contact:

Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch (DVA), 
DVA Statistics, Belfast Test Centre, 
66 Balmoral Road,
Malone Lower, 
Belfast BT12 6QL

8. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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