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DVSA celebrates 20 years of the theory test

Tuesday 5th July 2016

To mark 20 years since its introduction, the DVSA has celebrated the role the theory test has played in reducing the number of people KSIs on UK roads.

The test, which is split into multiple choice and hazard perception, was first introduced in 1996 and replaced questions asked by the examiner during the practical test.

During the hazard perception test, candidates are shown video clips of emerging risks on the road, and the DVSA attributes this to a 11% fall in non low speed accidents involving new drivers.

The test continues to evolve and in January 2015 the filmed video clips were replaced with high quality computer generated imagery (CGI) and updated with more modern vehicles, roads and surroundings.

In terms of the pass mark for the multiple choice section of the test, learner drivers were required to score 26 out of 35 when the test was introduced - compared to the 43 out of 50 needed to pass today.

The DVSA is now looking to introduce more clips that will show situations with vulnerable road users including children, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

Gareth Llewellyn, chief executive of the DVSA, said: “The theory test enables candidates to demonstrate they have a good knowledge of the rules of the road and the theory behind safe driving before they start driving.

"The test is kept under constant review to ensure it continues to prepare candidates for a lifetime of safe driving.

"The introduction of high quality CGI clips enables candidates to demonstrate how they would respond to hazards in a safe environment.”

 

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Whilst I am sure the theory test has played a part, I think we should also recognize the role of other driver training initiatives, such as the retraining offered to alleged offenders as an alternative to prosecution. The National Driver Improvement Course started 20 years ago, later to become the National Driver Alertness Course. With its spin-offs including the National Speed Awareness Course, millions of drivers have been educated about the risks of unsafe and illegal driving behaviour. Casualty reduction has many contributors, including improved vehicle design and road layouts, but in the end we still rely on the driver to make the situation safe.
Guy Bradley, Hertfordshire

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