The number of new drivers heading out onto the road in Oswestry increased during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency data shows that of 391 practical tests at the town's test centre in 2020-21.

Of those 212 ended in success – a pass rate of 54 per cent which was up six per cent on the previous year.

But far fewer tests took place amid a year of restrictions, with thousands of people nationally seeing their tests cancelled as only key workers were permitted to take tests during the enforced lockdowns.

The number of tests was in comparison to the 1,387 taken in 2019-20 – with 653 cancelled due to the pandemic.

Across Great Britain a record 50 per cent of tests in 2020-21 resulted in a pass, with the figure even reaching 59 per cent between January and March this year.

Meanwhile, the number of tests dropped to 437,000 in 2020-21, from 1.6 million the previous year.

Robert Cowell, interim managing director of AA Driving School, said: β€œThe slight increase in the driving test pass rate for the first quarter of this year could be down to a number of things including quieter roads during tests.

"In addition, during lockdowns, tests were only allowed for key workers who needed to drive for their job, this probably also goes some way to explaining the higher pass rate during these months as the candidates would have been incredibly motivated to pass."

Mr Cowell said that demand for driving tests is now "sky-high" due to the number of cancellations last year, adding many people are facing a frustrating wait.

Practical tests resumed in April, but learners face a waiting time of more than three months to book a test with 470,000 already pencilled in across Great Britain, the DVSA said.

The body has launched a recruitment campaign for 300 examiners, while tests are taking place seven-days-a-week to allow 20,000 to go ahead every month.

Asked if an increase in the national pass rate was down to quieter roads, the DSVA said traffic levels are regularly reviewed to ensure traffic is at a sufficient level to test a candidate's ability.

It also said the reduction in tests could have impacted the overall rate.

Loveday Ryder, DVSA chief executive, said: "All candidates are assessed to the same level and the result of their test is entirely dependent on their performance on the day."

The data also showed the rate of success for people taking their driving test for the first time.

At Oswestry Test Centre, 139 out of 260 people passed on the first attempt in 2020-21, equating to 53 per cent.

That was above the national average of 51 per cent.