The much anticipated new look practical driving test, which will include a longer independent driving section, will come into effect in December, the DVSA has announced.
In a press release issued this morning (15 April), the government agency says the modernised test will ensure newly qualified drivers have the skills, knowledge and confidence to drive on their own.
Transport minister Andrew Jones says the changes, which have already been backed by a host of stakeholders including Road Safety GB, the RAC Foundation and IAM RoadSmart, will equip new drivers with the skills they need to use the road network safely.
Coming into force on 4 December 2017, the new driving test will feature four key changes, including increasing the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes.
Candidates will also be asked to follow directions on a sat nav as an alternative to following road signs. The DVSA says using sat navs will encourage more practice of independent driving and teach new drivers the skills they need to manage distractions.
Other changes include replacing current manoeuvres such as ‘reverse around a corner’ with more real life scenarios, such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay; while candidates will be asked one of the two vehicle safety questions while driving, for example, asking candidates to use the rear heated screen.
The DVSA says currently candidates spend much of the test on low risk roads, such as housing estates so they can carry out the current manoeuvres. It says the new-style manoeuvres will allow assessors to examine the same skill set in a way which is more representative of what a new driver will experience in everyday driving.
The DVSA adds that reducing the focus on slow speed manoeuvres in quiet low risk roads and increasing independent driving will allow examiners to better assess the learner’s ability to drive safely on higher-risk roads, where statistically, new drivers have the most crashes.
The decision follows a public consultation which attracted more than 3,900 responses.
Of those, 88% agreed with increasing the length of the independent driving part of the test; 71% agreed with asking candidates to follow directions from a sat nav; 79% agreed with the plans to change the reversing manoeuvres; and 78% agreed with asking the ‘show me’ question while the candidate is driving.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, said: “DVSA’s priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving.
“Making sure the driving test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads.”
“It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed their test.
Andrew Jones, transport minister, said: “These changes will help reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skills they need to use our roads safely.
“Ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st century – for example, the introduction of sat navs, will go a long way towards doing this.”