Learner drivers will be subject to a more modernised driving test from 4 December onwards, with a focus on more current driving styles.
Four changes will be introduced to the test:
- More often used manoeuvres like reverse bay-parking replacing outdated ones such as reversing around a corner
- Following directions given by a sat-nav system, as an alternative to following road signs
- Extending the independent driving section of the driving test from 10 to 20 minutes
- Asking safety questions while the driver is on the road, for example, asking the driver to use the rear heated screen while on the move
The sat-nav part of the test is to reflect the DVSA’s findings that around 50% of drivers use a sat-nav, although this was the least popular revision in the batch; 29% of the 3900 members of the public polled about the revisions were not in favour of introducing the change.
By comparison, only 12%, 21% and 22% disagreed with the independent driving extension, reversing manoeuvres and safety question respectively.
The DVSA says these test sections are aimed at making sure the test is as up-to-date as it can be, while fully evaluating drivers’ independent driving skills.
Sat-nav systems built in to phones are of particular prominence, given the government’s recent doubling of fines and points for drivers caught using their phones at the wheel.
Although the test will test only legal use of sat-nav systems, the new section will pay focus to the possibility of distraction caused by the devices, as well as the devices' use of fewer quiet residential roads, which, when coupled with the replacement of the manoeuvres which need to take place on these roads, means a wider variety of roads - both safe and less traditionally safe to new drivers - will be included.
Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomes these changes, and told Autocar: “We know that new drivers are a higher risk on the roads, therefore we need to better prepare them for real-world driving. These changes will test drivers in a more realistic manner which is essential to improving their safety once their L plates are removed. The changes, 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 driving instructors and their pupils and therefore fully support these proposed changes.
“In the future, we will need to see further changes to the test when we have more electric, connected and semi-autonomous cars on our roads.”