When the topic of driving tests comes up, many drivers respond with something along the lines of “nobody drives like that!” or “if I did my test now, I’d probably fail”. While these statements may be overstated, it’s fair to say some parts of the current test are pretty outdated. And it seems the government agrees. The DVSA has announced that the test is getting a revamp, coming into effect December 2017. So what will the new driving test include, and what’s changed from the current system?
More independent driving
The biggest shake-up of the current test comes in the independent driving section. Currently lasting 10 minutes, the new driving test will double that – bringing it up to 20 minutes.
And rather than following your examiner’s directions, four out of five tests will have to follow a Sat Nav provided by the tester. This means learners will need to be able to follow both road signs and instructions from a Sat Nav safely. This is to account for the increased use of Sat Navs in modern driving. Adding this variable to the independent driving section will test how well learners deal with on-the-road distractions.
That being said, a key rule remains for the independent driving section. Whether it’s following a Sat Nav or road signs, learners will not be penalised for missing an instruction, so long as their driving remains safe.
When was the last time you reversed around a corner? Most of us probably could count the number of times we’d performed this manoeuvre after passing our test on one hand. Well luckily for new drivers, this manoeuvre, along with turn in the road, have been scrapped. Instead, learners will need to perform one of the following:
- Parallel Parking
- Driving into/reversing out of a parking space
- Reversing into/driving out of a parking space
- Pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two car lengths and rejoining the traffic
These new manoeuvres are meant to better reflect common driving practices learners may experience. That being said, your instructor should still teach you how to reverse around a corner and do a turn in the road.
The question portion of the test has also been changed. Rather than asking questions like how to check oil levels before the driving section has started, the new test will involve testing knowledge while driving. The kind of things learners will need to demonstrate include operating heated windscreens, wipers and cleaning the windscreen. In addition, learners will need to answer two questions on car safety, including how to check tyre pressures and how to test headlamps are working.
Mixed opinions on the new driving test
The changes have generally been met positively by the general public. During a public consultation with 4,000 responses, the vast majority agreed with proposed changes. However, driving instructors have been critical of the changes, particularly the new manoeuvre which sees learner drivers pulling over to the right-hand side of the road, reversing two car lengths and then rejoining traffic. They argue that is not only dangerous but also contravenes the Highway Code. Concerns over the sat nav section have also been raised, with instructors teaching in preparation for the new test stating it has caused incidents to occur with learner drivers.
The new test has also seen opposition from examiners, too, with the Public and Commercial Service union conducting a 48-hour strike in line with the launch of the new test on 4th December. They argue that the changes will force examiners to work longer, harder and for no extra pay. The DVSA have responded, claiming the PCS are simply trying to “undermine” the new test.
Updated 4/12/17 to include disagreement from driving instructors. Originally posted 16/5/17