The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is proposing improvements to the test. The aims are to assess more comprehensively the ability of candidates to drive independently, to make the test more meaningful to modern driving conditions and to provide an effective syllabus against which drivers are trained.
The proposals in this consultation cover four main themes:
- the content of the on-road, practical driving test
- changes in technology, leading to new devices becoming part of normal driving and incorporated in the practical test
- the delivery of manoeuvres to be carried out during the test
- the knowledge required of a candidate when taking the practical test and how the assessment of this is undertaken, bearing in mind the time constraints in the test.
Is this a positive step towards making the L-test fit for 21st century motoring by the DVSA. The DVSA has announced an exciting set of proposals that would radically alter the L-test, many of which are lifted directly from the current L-test trial. To gauge industry support for the proposals the DVSA has announced a consultation period, which ends on August 25.
If you are an MSA GB member and want to make any comments at all on these proposals, contact MSA GB and your views will be reflected in our response to this consultation. To date the vast majority of members we have had contact with agree with the proposals.
It’s also important to stress that the proposed changes were not dreamt up by someone from the DVSA sat in a darkened room: representatives from the major driver trainer organisations, including ourselves at MSA GB, the ADINJC and the DIA, were also involved from the very start.
DVSA are inviting comments on their proposals to:
- Increase the independent driving section of the practical driving test from 10 to 20 minutes. This would provide a greater opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their ability to drive without direction from an examiner. It would encourage more preparation to be given to driving independently during the training in advance of the test. It would also result in a more comprehensive assessment to be made of a candidate’s ability to navigate realistic traffic conditions and drive safely from one location to another.
- Provide the option for the directions in the independent driving section to be followed by using a sat nav, in addition to the current practice of following road signs. Including a widely used in-car device, such as a sat nav, in the driving test would make the test more realistic and position it closely to real driving undertaken after a candidate passes the test. The intention is for the new test to include the possibility of using either road signs or sat navs, or a mixture of the two. With this enhancement, it would be possible to extend the geographical coverage to include areas that have not hitherto formed part of the test.
- Modify the way in which we deliver manoeuvres assessed during the test. The intention is for them to be undertaken during the natural course of the drive, in a less staged way than has traditionally been the case. For example, the reverse around a corner and turn in the road manoeuvres are traditional exercises that are generally performed on quiet roads and as such are less challenging than could potentially be the case. By adjusting the way in which the manoeuvres are delivered, we would offer a better opportunity to demonstrate vehicle handling skills and interactions with other road users in a more active driving environment.
- The exercises delivered would assess the same skills as at present, augmented by new, realistic everyday manoeuvres, for example driving into and then reversing out of a parking bay to face the opposite way whilst staying within the correct lane, or pulling up on the right, reversing for two car lengths and parking the vehicle before starting off and re-joining the flow of traffic. This would update the test to current traffic conditions, with the skills obtained in preparing for the new exercises being transferrable to other manoeuvres, including reversing around the corner and turning in the road, enabling successful candidates to possess the skills required to undertake these manoeuvres in the course of driving.
- Ask one of the two vehicle safety questions while on the move instead of at the start of the test, for example requiring candidates to show how they would operate the rear heated screen while driving. This would mean that the ability of a candidate to use the technology available in most modern vehicles was properly tested, while the car is in operation. It would also be more time efficient in terms of making the most of the whole test period.