More real-world driving tweaks have been made to exam in effort to bring it in line with more modern motorist behaviour

Changes to the UK driving test have led to the introduction of a new law to allow learner drivers under tuition to venture onto motorways for the first time in a dual-control car.

As part of efforts to introduce features that are more representative of modern-day driving in the learning process, learners can be taken onto motorways with an instructor, as long as their car is a dual-control vehicle wearing L-plates.

The new law comes into force today. Although learners still won't be taken onto the motorway during their test, lessons on motorways are intended to better prepare new drivers for a section of road that they were previously not allowed to use — something that several safety experts said was a hindrance to driving standards.

A new online Driving Hub has been launched to help learners prepare themselves for the motorways that Highways England refers to as "high-speed driving roads". 

The addition of motorway driving to lessons follows the introduction of a modified and modernised driving test. Tests now challenge candidates with more manoeuvres, such as reverse bay parking, with former test features, such as reversing around a corner, having been removed. Motorway lessons are not compulsory, however; it's down to the discretion of driving instructors as to whether they take their students out on the motorway. 

Despite the motorway lessons, driving on the motorway will not become part of the driving test. A study carried out by Citroën and drivers' group IAM Roadsmart found that 61% of IAM members agreed that motorway driving should be mandatory on the test before new drivers are awarded their licences. 

A separate study by the AA showed that 8% of drivers avoided the motorway in the first six months after gaining their licence, while just 25% of those questioned felt prepared to venture onto the motorway post-test. More than half would have welcomed the opportunity to experience the motorway as a learner, and a third thought they would have been a safer driver with this tuition. The association has also set up a fund to allow new drivers who missed the chance to have motorway tuition to venture onto the motorway with an instructor.

In the wake of the sat-nav-oriented changes to the driving test, Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) research shows that half of motorists use sat-nav, but around a quarter of accidents involving new drivers are caused by them being distracted. The new test aims to address this by integrating a sat-nav into the test for the first time.

Drivers taking the test are now asked to follow directions to a predetermined destination, enabling examiners to assess a driver's ability to follow instruction while also adhering to road signs.

The independent driving section of the test, when drivers are asked to follow signs to a destination without further instruction from the examiner or sat-nav, will also be extended from 10 to 20 minutes.

Additionally, examiners now ask safety questions while the driver is on the move and can ask them to turn on certain controls, such as the rear heated screen.

Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed the changes earlier this year, telling 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.”

Read more: 

UK driving test set for changes in 2017

Autocar launches safer learner driver scheme

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Comments
14

16 April 2017
If this stops people driving into rivers and the sea because the disembodied voice in their satnav tells them that is the way to Tesco then that's a good thing.


16 April 2017
Reverse bay parking is easy, you just press a button then drive past the space. Reversing around a corner is trickier.

16 April 2017
Reverse bay parking is easy, you just press a button then drive past the space. Reversing around a corner is trickier.

16 April 2017
Why was there no test previously for reading a map book ? Testing for following satnav is not safety related, navigation was considered as secondary to car control and recognising dangerous situations and road signs. Are drivers to be tested on mobile phone use in case there is an accident and need help ? Too many committee meetings and think tanks me thinks.Thank the lord I past my test 35 yrs ago. ;-)

19 April 2017
Andrew 61 wrote:

Why was there no test previously for reading a map book ? Testing for following satnav is not safety related, navigation was considered as secondary to car control and recognising dangerous situations and road signs. Are drivers to be tested on mobile phone use in case there is an accident and need help ? Too many committee meetings and think tanks me thinks.Thank the lord I past my test 35 yrs ago. ;-)

You are correct. Sat nav use isn't an intrinsic part of driving. And while I would hope that the inclusion of reversing into bays may encourage more to do so after passing the test, because it seems a vast majority as it stands drive in and then get annoyed when one sounds the horn at them to prevent them hitting one's car as they blindly scoot out backwards without taking care to ensure their way is clear, yet I am sure that reversing around a corner should still be a requirement at the same time. It's a different skill, especially in terms of observation in all three directions.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

1 June 2018

 I don’t know about you but when I’m in a Carpark I look for a drive through Parking bays so I don’t have to reverse out, it always amuses me when you see two bays free and someone parks in the first one, why don’t they just drive forward?, then they wouldn’t have to reverse out!

Peter Cavellini.

1 June 2018

You have to park nose-in in Supermarkets as modern cars are so wide and spaces so small that otherwise you have to get all your shopping down between the cars to get it in the boot.   So I rather hope people DONT start doing this as a matter of course.

17 April 2017
Perfect for the future Uber drivers, setting the sat nav as they won't know their way around in this country yet and parking in a bay whilst dropping off the perpetually unemployed at Aldi to stock up on cheap beer and crisp mulitpacks for the weekend. Putting the Great back into Britain!

28 November 2017
The Apprentice wrote:

Perfect for the future Uber drivers, setting the sat nav as they won't know their way around in this country yet and parking in a bay whilst dropping off the perpetually unemployed at Aldi to stock up on cheap beer and crisp mulitpacks for the weekend. Putting the Great back into Britain!

What has any of that got to do with anything?

28 November 2017

Is this a test of how you can drive?   Or how well you can operate the car?

 

And what if you have a different car from the one you've learned to drive in?   Or even that, for whatever reason, the car you learned in wasn't available on your test day?

 

Test should be purely on driver skills.   Not on where all the controls are in a car, not on whichever satnav is installed, and not on following a route where you may either have previous knowledge or not.   Especially as for a new destination you'll probably would have already checked a map to see how to get there.

 

Driver skills remain, but car accessories and satnavs change and are improved.

 

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