Driving test needs overhaul: IAM

12.00 | 17 March 2015 | | 5 comments

The IAM has used the 80th anniversary of the driving test to issue a call for a “comprehensive overhaul to keep it relevant” and address “the problems faced by young people on the road”.

The IAM says the test does not assess a driver’s ability with regard to country roads, poor weather or driving at night which it describes as “the main risk factors in the first six months of solo driving”.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world.

“For instance, Austria has a ‘second phase’ licensing system, where young drivers come back in the first 12 months after the test for further interventions to examine attitude changes and skills.”

The IAM says young male driver casualties “have dropped by a third in in Austria as a result of the initiative”.

The IAM advocates a series of changes to driver training including: road safety education to be part of the National Curriculum; a minimum learning period prior to taking the practical test; the inclusion of high speed roads in the test; support for limits on peer passenger numbers after the test is passed; and a lower drink-drive limit for new drivers.

Neil Greig said: “The driving test does test a driver’s ability to a very high level, but it has fallen behind what is urgently needed in 2015. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the next Government.”


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    Oops – our mistake, now corrected. Well spotted and thanks for bringing to our attention!

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    I think they mean “overhaul” not “overall”. Wearing overalls, boilersuits or other such protective overclothing is unlikely to make a massive difference to driving ability. 🙂

    Duncan Knox, Surrey
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    The practical problem here is surely the logistical and economic one of not slowing down the rate at which new drivers appear and need to be able to drive, and where all the extra tuition and expertise is to come from.

    That is not to argue that the present situation is OK, but we also need to be realistic about what improvements are realistically possible especially as many of the skills needed can only come with experience.

    After 57 years and 1m miles plus, I still say to myself when I see an incident or near-miss “remember that, and avoid it”. In other words I feel that training in attitude could pay real dividends.

    Why is it that our TV screens are full of police pursuits and crashes but very little at all on how to drive safely?

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Drivers are crashing after passing their tests because they have to manage situations as found and not the situations that they were tested on. What is conspicuously lacking then is a method of accelerating the new drivers acquisition of expertise in managing the system as found. At the moment they are launched into the real world with precious little understanding of how to go about managing it. The current system relies on the slow and unreliable trial and error process, so it’s no wonder that so many of them end up having accidents. Would a modified test meet this requirement or would it be better to re-evaluate how well new riders and drivers are being prepared for the vast difference between the real world and the imagined world of the driving test?

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    The IAM is quite right to raise this issue. From the fact that many newly qualified drivers crash within the months immediately after their test, I can only assume that the test itself is no longer fit for purpose. I would love to see a standard near that of an IAM pass as the kind of drive needed to pass the DSA test.

    David, Suffolk
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