The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has launched a public consultation on its plans to improve the car driving test.
The proposed changes are designed to make the driving test a ‘better assessment of the candidate’s ability to drive independently in modern driving conditions’.
The changes include increasing the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes, and asking candidates to follow directions from a sat nav.
The ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres will be replaced with more ‘real-life’ scenarios such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay.
In addition, one of the two vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) will be asked while the candidate is driving.
The DVSA says the changes are intended to ‘make sure that training and the driving test reduce the number of young people being killed in collisions’.
The Agency says most fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads (not including motorways), and changing the format of the test will allow more of these roads to be included in driving test routes.
DVSA is working with the Transport Research Laboratory in a trial involving more than 4,500 learner drivers and 850 driving instructors at 32 locations across Great Britain. The trial is due to end later in 2016, and a full report on the findings will then be published.
Lesley Young, DVSA chief driving examiner, added: “Candidates will be given more responsibility for making decisions during the test. We want them to show they can cope with distractions and assess risk without the intervention of their instructor or examiner.”
The DVSA says the RAC, IAM RoadSmart, RoSPA, the AA and the Driving Instructors Association (DIA) all support the changes.
Carly Brookfield, CEO of the DIA, said: “We are compelled by the evidence we have seen to date from the trial to recommend that these long overdue developments are made to a driving test – which has been fundamentally unchanged for over 20 years and has not kept pace with how our roads and driver behaviour has developed over time.”
Edmund King OBE, AA president, said: “We know that new drivers are a higher risk on the roads, therefore we need to better prepare them for real-world driving.
“These changes will test drivers in a more realistic manner which is essential to improving their safety once their L plates are removed.”
The public consultation will run until 25 August 2016.