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Kent woman passes driving test after 13 years

She's spent £6,000 and 13 years trying to pass her driving test but at last, after going through six different instructors, Janine Mars from Chatham has finally been given her licence.

The 31-year-old building site manager is now going car shopping and, as David Johns found out, she thinks people on the roads of Medway have nothing to fear!

Rise in number of learner drivers trying to cheat their tests by hiring lookalikes

Rising numbers of learner drivers are being caught trying to cheat their tests by hiring lookalikes, according to Government figures.

More than 670 cases of impersonators sitting theory and practical exams have been reported so far in 2014/15, more than a fifth higher than the previous financial year, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said. Andy Rice, the DVSA's head of fraud and integrity, said driving test fraud was putting"innocent road users at risk" and it had "stringent measures" to detect offences.

Figures published by the DVSA following a Freedom of Information request by the Times newspaper have revealed the number of "impersonation investigations" for each financial year over the last decade.

From April to the end of December 2014, there were 677 reported cases, compared with 554 for the whole of 2013/14 and 628 in 2012/13.

Some 188 arrests have been carried out so far in 2014/15, while there were 55 convictions for fraud offences. Thirty seven people have been jailed and 97 driving licences revoked, according to the figures.

The highest number of reported cases in the last 10 years was 816 in 2011/12, but that total could now be surpassed with figures for the last three months of the current financial year still to beadded.

The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly. Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk.

Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly. We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice. Thankfully this type of crime is extremely rare.

– Andy Rice, the DVSA's head of fraud and integrity


Your views: Young drivers 'priced out'

You've been contacting us on our Facebook, about the high cost of driving. It seems fewer young drivers are getting behind the wheel. Here's some of your thoughts - and, remember, tell us what you think on our Meridian Facebook page.

I'm 17 and would rather spend £14 on a bus ticket than the £1500 odd it would to get me on the road. I'm not driving because although I would live to its just not worth the cost.

– Henry Ellison

The only way i can afford my insurance is by being a named driver on my dads insurance!

– Becca Field, from Kent

Lessons are around £20 a time, say 10 lessons - at least - that's £200; then theory test is £30ish - I can't remember how much test was but say £70. Then a car, mine was £3000 for a 1.3 ka. And my insurance was £1400 aged 18. That's a total of £4700!!! If it wasn't for my family being so generous for my birthday I wouldn't be driving!! It's a joke.

– Amy Shrives, from Chichester

Motoring costs mean fewer behind the wheel

Fewer young drivers are taking their test Credit: PA Images

The high cost of insurance and the economic downturn means fewer young people are taking their driving tests. The numbers have dropped almost a fifth in the past five years.

The Department for Transport says the number of 17 to 19-year olds taking their practical driving tests has gone down 18 per cent since 2007. The number of people in their 20s taking their tests has dropped more than 10 per cent.

Even among young people who have passed their tests, data show the number with access to cars has been waning, while those who do have cars appear to be driving fewer miles each week. The decline has been sharper among young men than young women.

While car insurance prices for 50-somethings have risen 20 per cent since 2010, those for drivers aged between 17 and 22 have soared more than 80 per cent, figures from the AA show

Even youngsters who shop around can now expect to pay more than £1,600 a year on average - but the chances are, they'll pay much more than that.