In a bid to make the driving test more representative of real driving, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will no longer publish details of test routes, and will introduce an independent driving section to the practical test.
Current test routes used by each driving test centre are published online but this will stop when new routes are introduced at the beginning of October.
And in order to better assess whether a learner driver is ready to drive unsupervised, independent driving will be introduced into the test on 4 October 2010. Candidates will drive for about 10 minutes, without step-by-step direction from their examiner. This will involve either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both. To help candidates visualise the directions, the examiner may also show them a simple diagram. The remainder of the test is unchanged.
Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: “We want new drivers to be able to drive safely and independently and learning to drive test routes by rote isn’t the way to achieve this.
"Stopping the publication of test routes will help to make sure that the driving test better reflects realistic driving conditions and will give new drivers the skills and confidence they need to stay safe on the roads.”
Trevor Wedge, DSA’s chief driving examiner, said: “Evidence shows that the biggest challenge newly qualified drivers face after passing their test is learning how to cope when they no longer have their instructor there to help and prompt them.
“We want to make sure that new drivers and riders are ready to make their own decisions when driving alone; learning how to do that in preparation for their test should lead to better and safer drivers.”
The moves have been welcomed by the IAM.
Peter Rodger, IAM chief examiner, said: “Making the test more true to life is a definite step forward – the more realistic the examination process the better.
“All new drivers have to learn that multi tasking – controlling the car, looking out for hazards and planning ahead while navigating – is an integral part of day-to-day driving.
“Driving instructors will no doubt learn the routes over time, and use them when teaching, but there is at least some reflection of reality in that most of us drive familiar routes most of the time.”
Click here to read the full DSA news report.