The Government is set to make changes to the practical driving test in a bid to ensure it reflects the modern driving experience.
The moves were unveiled yesterday (12 May) as part of the Government’s new motoring services strategy covering the future of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA); the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon says the changes, which are to take into account local variations and increasing vehicle automation, will prepare drivers “for a lifetime of safe road use”.
Novice drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents. Drivers who have held a full licence for less than six months are involved in 15% of collisions, despite only accounting for 5% of the miles driven.
The Government says it is important to encourage ADIs to place an emphasis on learning to drive, rather than simply learning to pass the test. It also wants a greater focus on creating more respect for other road users, particularly the most vulnerable.
The new strategy, which sets out the DfT’s vision for the three motoring agencies until 2020, includes plans to allow learner drivers accompanied by an ADI to drive on the motorway network in a dual controlled car.
It also outlines plans to expand the range of test slots available outside daytime weekday slots, on a permanent basis, across a wider range of centres than at present.
Other areas of focus in the strategy include looking at how to ensure haulage and bus and coach operators can access all services efficiently and flexibly to suit their needs, and how to best support the UK automotive industry.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, transport secretary, said: “The DfT’s thee motoring services agencies, the DVLA, the DVSA and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) are key to ensuring the United Kingdom’s road network plays its part in promoting the future prosperity of our nation.
“I am today publishing a strategy for the agencies, which sets out the direction they will take over the remainder of this Parliament.
“The strategy sets out our vision for the agencies’ future: how we can better support those learning to drive to ensure they are properly prepared to take their practical test, what we can do to ensure haulage and bus and coach operators can access all our services efficiently and flexibly to suit their needs, and how we can best support the UK automotive industry.
“Recognising this country’s enviable road safety record, and the importance of the highway network to the economy, we reiterate the need for driver training that prepares people for a lifetime of safe road use.
“We will examine the potential benefits of different models for delivery of the practical driving test. We will strengthen the agencies’ relationships with commercial users of their services, whose needs can be very different from those of individual members of the public.”
The RAC has welcomed the Government’s efforts to modernise the practical driving test.
Peter Williams, RAC head of external affairs, said: “The nature of driving in the UK is changing at a tremendous pace so we are pleased to see the Government is finally responding by comprehensively reviewing the driving test, with the aim of ensuring the next generation of motorists are as well prepared as possible.”
“The RAC welcomes efforts to modernise the practical driving test and improve the service offered to motorists who are starting their motoring careers. This includes plans to drive down waiting times for practical tests; data collected by the RAC shows average waiting times to take a practical rose through 2015. New drivers will also welcome the greater flexibility associated with proposals for tests to be offered outside normal weekday hours.”