Driving Test Changes Move a Step Close to Reality

Proposed changes to the driving test have taken a step forward with the publication of a consultation by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), asking for drivers’ views.

How the driving test will change

  • Increase the independent driving section part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes so that candidates can better demonstrate their capability in a variety of road and traffic conditions
  • Using a sat nav. As 52% of drivers now have a sat nav, it’s relevant for a driver to show they’re able to follow directions from both this and traditional road signs
  • More “real life” scenarios such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay to better reflect contemporary driving
  • Discarding old manoeuvres like reversing around a corner and turning in the road
  • Ask one of the two vehicle safety questions (the show-me, tell me questions) while the candidate is driving to test a candidate’s knowledge of operating the vehicle.

Why change the driving test?

After 20 years with no changes, some parts of the driving test no longer reflect modern road conditions. Road collisions are the biggest killer of young people aged between 15 and 19, with most fatal collisions taking place on high-speed roads.

The DVSA, supported by road safety campaign groups and driving instructor associations, want to make the test more meaningful to modern driving conditions and reduce the number of fatal accidents through better training.

Research trial already showing positive feedback

A research trial for the new-style driving test has been taking place across Great Britain since April 2015, involving 4,500 learner drivers and 850 driving instructors in 32 locations. It’s due to finish later this year, after which the DVSA will publish a full report on its findings.

Feedback from the trial already appears to be positive with road safety campaigners and driving instructor groups. Mark Peacock, the head of BSM, said:

“The proposed changes to the practical driving test, particularly the extended independent driving and use of a sat nav, should help to produce better, safer motorists. We have already had positive feedback from our instructors and their pupils and therefore fully support these proposed changes.”

Other measures to improve road safety

Changes to the driving test are among a number of suggestions put forward by campaigners for young driver safety. Other proposed measures are:

  • A minimum learning period before being able to take a driving test
  • An increased, three-year probationary period after passing the test, with a driver’s licence being revoked if they receive 6 or more penalty points in that time
  • Restrictions on night-time driving
  • Restrictions on the number of passengers a newly qualified driver can carry.

These ideas were first floated in 2013 and a government Green Paper was supposed to follow to analyse their value, but this has been repeatedly shelved owing to political obstacles. It’s now looking increasingly unlikely that the government will revive the plans.

For more information about proposals to improve young driver safety, you might be interested in our related articles:

Young Driver Safety: a New Government Green Paper

Green Paper for Young Driver Safety Changes is Delayed

Fresh calls for government to publish Green Paper on graduated driving scheme

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Released On 18th Jul 2016

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