In December 2017, some changes were introduced to the UK driving test.
The revisions aim to make the test more modern, relevant and to ultimately reduce the number of casualties on the road. Both students and driving instructors must be aware of the changes to the UK practical driving test, and ensure they prepare for it well.
One of the aims of the changes to the UK practical driving test is to increase the amount of time the learner spends driving without any guidance in an attempt to reflect real driving scenarios and further test the driver’s independence. Previously, the independent driving section of the test (which involves the examiner giving the learner a destination to travel to, and no further instruction) lasted for ten minutes, and now it will last twenty minutes. The argument is that the examiner has more time to check for faults and assess how safely the learner performs.
Secondly, the learner will be asked to follow directions from a sat-nav as part of the independent driving section of the updated driving test. This is to reflect the digital age we live in, as over half of all car drivers have a sat-nav. This modernisation of the UK practical driving test adds a new element, but it does not matter if you take a wrong turn during this part of the examination. The sat-nav will be provided by the examiner, and the route will be decided and set up by them as well. However, not all learner drivers will be asked to follow a sat-nav. One in five will be asked to follow road signs, just like the old independent driving part of the test.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have also decided to remove two reversing manoeuvres from the test. There will be no more reverse around the corner and turn in the road. Now, drivers will be asked to perform one of three new manoeuvres. The potential manoeuvres are: parallel parking at the side of the road, parking in a bay (by driving in and reversing out or vice-versa), or pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two car lengths, and rejoining traffic. The last manoeuvre has caused controversy as some driving examiners have said it is dangerous and violates the Highway Code.
New driving tests will be taking place on busier, high-traffic roads as opposed to the quiet, low-risk roads that learner drivers were usually asked to use in previous examinations. The DVSA justifies this with the fact that on high-speed roads there is a higher rate of fatal accidents, so new learner drivers must demonstrate competency at using them. Finally, learners will be asked a “tell me” question before they start driving, and a “show me” question during the driving, where safety tasks must be described or demonstrated.
It’s important to be confident with the changes to the UK practical driving test which were introduced in December 2017, whether you are a driving instructor, examiner, or learner driver.