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Driving test changes 4 December 201715-04-2017  
The driving test in England, Scotland and Wales will change from Monday 4 December 2017.
The changes are designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.

The 4 main changes to the test are:

  • the independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes
  • most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav
  • the reversing manoeuvres will be changed
  • answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving

Find out more about how the changes will work - it includes a video showing the changes.

You can also read a blog post about how the changes will affect driving instructors.

Changes to the driving test will help save lives and improve road safety, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said today.

Learner drivers will need to pass a modern test that will include new manoeuvres and a longer independent driving section to make sure drivers have the skills, knowledge and confidence to drive on their own.

The changes will also include a section where drivers use satellite navigation to find their way.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

“We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to make them safer.

“These changes announced today will help reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skills they need to use our roads safely.

“Ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st century – for example, the introduction of sat navs, will go a long way towards doing this.”

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said:

“DVSA’s priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving.

“Making sure the driving test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads.”

“It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed their test.”

Around half of all car drivers now have a sat nav and to reflect the changing behaviours of drivers, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) want new drivers to be trained on how to use them safely. This was supported by 70 per cent of respondents from last year’s consultation.

Using sat navs will encourage more practice of independent driving and teach new drivers the skills they need to manage distractions.

Currently candidates spend a large amount of their test on low risk roads, such as housing estates so they can carry out the current manoeuvres. The new-style manoeuvres will allow DVSA to assess the same skill set as the changes are more representative of what a new driver will experience in their everyday driving.

Reducing the focus on slow speed manoeuvres in quiet low risk roads and increasing independent driving will allow DVSA examiners to better assess the learner’s ability to drive safely on higher-risk roads, where statistically, new drivers have the most crashes.

Feedback on the changes

DVSA received more than 3,900 responses to the public consultation on the changes to the test.

  • 88% agreed with increasing the length of the independent driving part of the test
  • 71% agreed with asking candidates to follow directions from a sat nav
  • 79% agreed with the plans to change the reversing manoeuvres that are test
  • 78% agreed with asking the ‘show me’ question while the candidate is driving

Representatives from the driver training industry are also supportive of the changes.

This includes driving instructor associations, the RAC, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), AA and the driving training National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP).

RAC Foundation Director, Steve Gooding, said:

“We are very supportive of the revisions DVSA is making to the practical driving test, which will mean candidates undergo a far more realistic assessment of their readiness to take to the road unsupervised.”

“Much has changed since the first driving test was taken in 1935, and it must be right that the test evolves, just as the cars we drive are themselves changing to incorporate ever more driver assist technology such as inbuilt sat nav systems. Novice drivers need to demonstrate the right skills and driving style to cope with the new environment.”

“Clearly driving examiners and instructors both need time to adjust to the new test, in particular to ensure that candidates are well-prepared, nevertheless it is good to know that the new test will be running by the end of this calendar year.”

National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP), Chair, Lynne Barrie, said:

“NASP welcomes the changes to the practical driving test and believes the key to safer drivers is better training and preparation.

“Improving the driving test will give new drivers the skills needed for everyday driving. This will help to prepare new drivers for a safer driving career and hopefully help to reduce road casualties.”

DVSA and the Transport Research Laboratory also trialled the changes with over 4,300 learner drivers and over 860 driving instructors. Feedback from the trial was also positive.

Graham Footer, CEO Disabled Motoring UK. 

“Many disabled drivers use sat- nav systems on a regular basis to help them drive independently and the changes being brought in will make sure that they know how to use these systems safely. They will also ensure that all drivers are better equipped to drive on a wider variety of roads, and carry out an updated set of manoeuvres that are part of everybody’s day to day driving. The revised practical driving test will make Britain’s roads safer, and raise the overall standard of driving, therefore it is something that Disabled Motoring UK fully supports.”  

 Full details of the changes:

  • the current 10 minutes of independent driving will be increased to 20 minutes of independent driving using a satnav OR traffic signs; the examiner will decide if road signs or sat nav will be used for this part of the test – with 20% of the car driving tests using road signs
  • currently candidates have to perform one manoeuver from: turn in the road, reverse around a corner or reverse parking (either into a bay or at the side of the road); they will still perform one manoeuvre, but it will be one of the following: drive into and reverse out of a parking bay, pull up on the right, reverse and re-join the traffic or reverse parking (either into a bay or at the side of the road)
  • the ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’ question at the beginning of the test will become a ‘tell me’ question at the beginning and a ‘show me’ question on the move
  • the changes will only apply to car driving tests to begin with
  • candidates can’t use their own sat nav during the test - they have to use the one supplied by the examinel
  • the pass mark is staying the same - no more than 15 driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults
  • the overall time of the driving test won’t change, it will still be around 40 minutes
  • the driving test cost will also stay the same
News story on GOV.UK
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