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The government wants new drivers to be prepared for driving on their own, and not just passing the driving test
The driving test needs to be reviewed so that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can better assess whether new drivers can drive safely and competently on their own on our busy modern roads.
DVSA has spent time talking to driving instructor associations, academics and others with a road safety interest to see what can be done differently.
The content of the test is set in law, so there are limits to what can be changed. For example, the ‘show me, tell me’ questions must be done, but we can consider how they’re actually carried out.
2. How the trial will work
DVSA is trialling some changes to the driving test.
DVSA needs between 2,000 and 3,000 learner drivers to take part. The research started in spring 2015 and will last up to 1 year.
This research is part of a routine review of the driving test.
- compare the results of people taking the current and trial test
- look at any changes in safe driving within 6 months of learner drivers passing their driving test
Another reason that DVSA is doing the research is because it needs feedback from:
- approved driving instructors (ADIs)
- learner drivers
- supervising drivers
DVSA will make recommendations after the research has been done. There’ll then be a public consultation about the recommendations.
Any changes to the driving test will only be made when that’s been done.
2.1 Which driving test centres are being using
The research is being done at 32 driving test centres. They’re a mix of rural and urban locations.
You can only take part in the research if you normally use one of these centres.
- Birmingham Kings Heath
- Bishopbriggs (Glasgow)
- Bristol (Southmead)
- Burgess Hill
- Cheetham Hill
- Edinburgh (Musselburgh)
- Herne Bay
- Lower Gornal
- Mitcham (London)
- Sheffield Handsworth
- Southampton (Maybush)
- St Helens
- West Didsbury
2.2 Learners taking the test will get a licence
The test being used in the research is an actual driving licence acquisition test. This means that learners who pass will get a full driving licence.
The assessment of the driving test will stay the same as it is now.
2.3 Who we’re working with
The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is doing the research with DVSA.
3. Changes that are being trialled
Two new manoeuvres will, for the purpose of the trial, replace the current ‘turn in the road’ and ‘left reverse’ manoeuvres. You should still be taught these, though.
The table below shows the main differences between the current and trial test.
|Current test||Trial test|
|‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ question at the beginning of the test||‘Tell me’ question at the beginning of the test and a ‘show me’ question on the move|
|10 minutes independent driving using traffic signs or verbal directions||20 minutes independent driving using a satnav or traffic signs|
|One of the following manoeuvres - turn in the road, reverse around a corner or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)||One of the following manoeuvres - drive in to and reverse out of a parking bay, pull up on the right, reverse, and rejoin the traffic or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)|
Everything else stays the same as the current test. The standard of assessment is the same for both tests.
3.1 Independent driving and using satnavs
We’re going to use satnavs in the independent driving section of the test, and increase the length from about 10 minutes to about 20 minutes.
Slow speed manoeuvres generally don’t lead to serious road traffic collisions. By removing manoeuvres that need us to use backstreets, we can design test routes that are more open and take in faster and rural driving.
Using a satnav also goes someway to addressing concerns that inexperienced drivers are easily distracted, which is one of the main causes of crashes.
We’re moving with technology and the technology that new drivers will be using. Following traffic signs will still be a second option.
Candidates will need experience of following directions from a satnav.
About the satnav
We will provide the satnav, and you can’t use your own. It will be pre-programmed and the driving examiner will fit it to the windscreen.
We’re using a TomTom GO 50 satnav for the trials. We won’t necessarily use this model if this does become part of the test in future.
There may be a need to use the in-car power. We’ll look at this during the trial.
The satnav will provide visual and verbal directions.
It should recalculate and redirect the candidate back onto the programmed route if they don’t follow the directions.
The driving examiner can also step in and give advice to get back on the route.
As long as the candidate deals with this safely, they won’t be marked with a fault.
Problems with the satnav
The driving examiner will step in to take control if the satnav fails or freezes. They can then go back to giving directions in the same way as they do now.
Where 2 junctions are close together
The driving examiner will give bridging directions if there are 2 junctions close together so that the candidate can plan their drive.
Speed reading on the satnav
The candidate should use the speedometer reading fitted to the vehicle. The satnav might give a slightly different reading.
The examiner will only use the car speedometer reading.
3.2 Pull up on the right
We’re going to ask candidates to pull up on the opposite side of the road, and then reverse for a couple of car lengths.
The exercise is perfectly legal. It’s challenging and is the kind of manoeuvre a driver will do at some point after passing their driving test.
We’ll use roads that represent real-life driving conditions.
This manoeuvre is done more commonly that turn-in-road and left-reverse in real life. It tests the skills that people will need, particularly for those who go on to be professional drivers, eg delivery drivers.
3.3 Forward parking in a bay
We’re going to ask candidates to drive forward into a parking bay, and then reverse back out of it.
We’ll use public car parks to do this, eg hotels, pubs and other types of locations. Businesses can stop us using car parks on private property, and we’ll be monitoring this during the trial.
Driving forward into a parking bay and then reversing out is the sort of thing most drivers do on a regular basis. It’s a perfectly legal exercise to do.
The skills you need to drive forward into a parking bay are the same as those for any slow speed manoeuvre – control, accuracy and effective observations.
Parking and reversing
You must reverse either left or right depending on the traffic flow in the car park.
You’re not allowed to drive through a first parking bay and then park in the bay directly in front of that.
When you reverse, you’re not allowed to reverse into any parking bays behind you.
3.4 ‘Show me’ safety question on the move
We’re going to ask a ‘show me’ safety question while the candidate is driving.
This is no different to what you need to do if the car steamed up or you needed to switch on the lights while you’re driving.
The driving examiner will ask the candidate to use a control when they think it’s safe to do so. The candidate then needs to do this when they think it’s safe.
A ‘show me’ safety question will be asked on every test.
A ‘tell me’ safety question will still be asked at the start of the test before the candidate moves off.