Biggest shake-up announced in practical driving test

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency(DVSA) unveiled plans to make a change in the practical driving test. In a governmental push to reduce accidents by improving driving skills, learner drivers have to drive into and reversing out of parking bay. They also have to use satnav once these changes approved.

Theory test was introduced in 1996 and this is the major change since then. Some other changes like learner drivers will be allowed on motorways to gain experience are already announced and these will follow same.

DVSA joined hands with Transport Research Laboratory to find out how these changes will reflect more real-life driving. These trials are going on in 32 locations across Great Britain with over 4500 learner drivers and 850 driving instructors taking part in research. These will end in later 2016.

Currently, DVSA is seeking public views on these plans and consultation will be closed on 25 August 2016.

What is changing

  • 1. Currently, learner drivers have to do 10 minutes independent driving which will be increased to 20 minutes.
  • 2. At the moment use of Satnav is not allowed in a practical test but candidates have to follow directions from satnav during ‘independent driving’.
  • 3. Manoeuvres ‘turning in the road’ and ‘reverse round a corner’ will be removed and will be replaced with more real-life scenarios like ‘driving into and reversing out of a parking bay’.
  • 4. Ask only 1 show me, tell me a question instead of 2.

Why DVSA looking to make these changes

Statistics shows that road accidents are the biggest killer of those who aged between 15 and 19 accounting more than 25% of all deaths in this age group.

DVSA wants to reduce these numbers by training and driving test.

These changes are required because:

  • 1. High-speed road encounters most fatal collisions and these changes will allow to include more of these roads in driving test.
  • 2. More than 50% car drivers now got a satnav and DVSA wants to ensure that new drivers are trained enough to use them safely.
  • 3. Independent driving is a real-life scenario so it's valuable for new drivers.

Below are some of the feedback from safety professionals:

Driving Instructors Association CEO, Carly Brookfield, said:
“We fully welcome the developments to the test and 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.”

Head of BSM, Mark Peacock, said:
“The proposed changes to the practical driving test, particularly the extended independent driving and use of a sat nav, should help to produce better, safer motorists. We have already had positive feedback from our instructors and their pupils and therefore fully support these proposed changes.”

AA president, Edmund King OBE, 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.”

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