We live next to Britain’s ‘most hated’ roundabout with worst pass rate in UK – it even has its own nickname – The Sun

LOCALS who live next to Britain’s most hated roundabout revealed how it even has its own nickname.

The dreaded “magic roundabout” is located in a town with the worst driving test pass rate in the UK and it’s renowned for causing chaos.

The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, Wiltshire is thought to be Britain's most hated roundabout


The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, Wiltshire is thought to be Britain’s most hated roundabout

Motorists in Swindon find the bizarre road system, named after the hit BBC children’s TV show which ran from 1965 to 1977, a nightmare to negotiate.

It was built in 1972 and is made up of five mini-roundabouts arranged in a circle which challenges experienced drivers.

New figures show Swindon learners are the least likely to pass their test first time.

Local chiropractor Sally Hobbs, 51, admitted that while she was “proud” of the roundabout, it did make driving more difficult.

She told The Sun Online: “People chance their arm a lot. I’ve been in one crash myself. It was with someone who doesn’t know how to use it.

“It’s a test of people’s driving ability.

“A lot of people struggle with giving way on the middle roundabout. People are put off by it and don’t like it at all.”

Just 21 per cent of learners from the town pass at their first attempt – the worst pass rate in the UK.

It means a huge 79 per cent have to re-take their test after making more than the 15 minor errors or one serious mistake allowed on the test route.

Swindon driving instructor Mark Mascarenhas (corr), 33, of Mark’s Driving School, said the Magic Roundabout makes life tough for learners practicing for the test.

He said: “I think we have just about as many roundabouts as Milton Keynes including the Magic Roundabout which makes life really challenging for learners because there is always so much going on there.

“I think the difficulties it and the large number of roundabout in the town present holds back our learners and makes them more anxious and leads to the town’s higher failure rate.”

Swindon learner Karen Evans, 21, a student, said: “I haven’t failed my test yet as I’ve only just started learning but I’ve been warned about the roundabouts and have been round the Magic Roundabout when my dad was driving and it was terrifying.

“The roundabouts are everywhere and when you are learning they do make you more tense because no sooner have you got through one than there is another one coming up.”

Watch moment learner driver fails test for trying to follow the Highway Code

Learners from Speke in Liverpool, Doncaster in South Yorkshire and Erith, south east London, have the second worst pass record with just 32 per cent passing first time.

Belvedere, also in south East London, has the third worst learner drivers with a 33 per cent pass rate.

Wolverhampton learners in the West Midlands are the fourth worst on a 35 per cent pass rate with Featherstone, West Yorkshire, and Rochdale, Greater Manchester, joint fifth worst on just a 37 per cent pass rate.

That compares with the best pass rate in England by drivers from Kendal , Cumbria, where 66 per cent pass first time.

Researchers from Howden Insurance analysed Home Office data for tests centres which carried out tests at the 380 test centres run by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency in the UK from 2020 to 2023.

A spokesperson said: “It is interesting to see the vast differences in success rates between the different test centres across the UK.”

Overall Scottish drivers are better than English drivers with the best pass rate in the UK by learners in Montrose, Angus, where 75 per cent pass first time.

The history of the Magic Roundabout

Swindon’s Magic Roundabout was designed by Frank Blackmore OBE, the inventor of the mini roundabout.

He was asked by Ray Harper, the local council’s Principle Traffic Engineer to help design an experimental new junction near the town.

They first tested the idea of the five-ring junction using a bus and stacks of tyres to mark out where the roundabouts were and getting people to drive through.

Ray told the BBC in 2014: “We tarmaced over the whole area.

“And when we’d got it all tarmaced, leaving the old roundabout in place with tyres, we were ready to start the experiment… this was in September 1971.

“On the old roundabout the saturation or the maximum amount of traffic you could get through the roundabout was 5,100 vehicles per hour.

“Using the five ring junction principle, with the five mini roundabouts that’s there now, gave a capacity of 6,200.  So that’s the one we adopted.

Pass rates are significantly better north of the border with between 74 per cent and 68 per cent of drivers passing first time at the DVLA driving test centres in Peebles, Hawick, Forfar, Lerwick, Girvan, Kelso, Stranraer and Fraserburgh.

After Kendal Alnwick in Northumberland has the second highest first time pass rate in England on 65 per cent followed by Chichester in West Susses third on 64 per cent.

Dorchester in Dorset and Barrow-In-Furness in Cumbria are joint fourth on 63 per cent with Malton in North Yorkshire, Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire and Yeovil in Somerset joint fifth on 62 per cent.

It comes as we told how learner drivers are paying up to £3,000 for crooks to step in and take their road test for them.

Figures obtained by The Sun on Sunday showed 3,679 have been caught trying the con since 2021.

And scammers are still using a huge number of profiles on TikTokInstagram and Facebook to offer the “no-test” full UK driving licences.

Wannabe motorists have been quoted up to £1,500 for someone to take their theory test, which costs £23.

The price doubles for the £62 practical test — with a competent stand-in with a passing resemblance to the named driver getting behind the wheel instead.

Responding to an ad on TikTok, our team was offered a stooge with no questions asked for £600.

First time driving test pass rates in England

Swindon – 21 per cent
Liverpool (Speke) – 32 per cent
Doncaster – 32 per cent
London (Erith) – 32 per cent
London (Belvedere) – 33 per cent
Wolverhampton – 35 per cent
Featherstone – 37 per cent
Rochdale – 37 per cent
Top five first time driving test pass rates in England
Kendal – 66 per cent
Alnwick – 65 per cent
Chichester – 64 per cent
Dorchester – 63 per cent
Barrow-In-Furness – 63 per cent
Lee-on-Solent – 62 per cent
Yeovil – 62 per cent


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