From December 2017, the driving test has changed, with some new elements being introduced and some of the current ones removed.
You’ll no longer be asked to do a turn in the road, for example. But the ‘independent drive’ section, where you are asked to follow road signs to a certain destination for 10 minutes, is now longer – and you might need to follow a sat nav instead.
What changes have been made to the practical driving test?
The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) made the changes to the driving test to make it better reflect “real life” driving situations.
The main changes are:
1. The independent driving part of your test is now twice as long – 20 minutes instead of 10. That’s half the duration of the test itself, which is 40 minutes long.
2. During the independent drive, you are likely to be asked to use a Satellite Navigation system to find your way to a location of the examiner’s choice, rather than using road signs. Not all pupils will be asked to do this on their test, but the DVSA say 80% will, so it’s important to be prepared. (If you aren’t one of those asked to use a sat nav, you’ll be asked to follow road signs, as used to be the case.)
3. You’ll no longer be asked to perform a ‘reverse around the corner’ or ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvre. Instead, you could be asked to:
- Parallel park at the side of the road,
- Park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out, or
- Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and re-join the traffic.
4. You’ll now be asked your vehicle safety questions in a different way. The ‘tell me’ question will be at the start of your test, whilst the ‘show me’ question will be asked on the move during the test (for example, showing the examiner how to wash the windscreen and use the wipers).
The DVSA has produced this short video to explain the changes:
Why were the changes needed?
The DVSA wanted to make the test more reflective of the type of driving that you will be doing once you’ve passed your test.
So, the new driving test is more focused on the key skills you’ll need for day to day driving. Of course the use of sat-navs is much more common now than it was just a few years ago – so it makes sense that they want to make the ‘independent drive’ part of your test look at how well you find your way using one of the devices. The key will be using the sat nav for directions, but remembering to ‘read’ the road for information about speed, positioning and any hazards.
Is the new driving test harder to pass?
With the right preparation from your driving instructor, it shouldn’t be. At Progress Driving School we’ll make sure all our learners know exactly what to expect and are as well-prepared as they can be.
The DVSA has said that it hopes, by putting more emphasis on independent driving during the test, that pupils will do more of this whilst out on their lessons beforehand. This will help you get used to all kinds of realistic traffic conditions and more closely replicate the kinds of journeys you might want to make once you pass your test.
The proposals also mean that manoeuvres will be incorporated into the test in a more natural way – this could mean that, rather than finding a quiet back street, the examiner will be looking to see your vehicle handling skills and how you interact with other road users in a “more active environment”. The DVSA have indicated that they do believe this will be more “challenging” than under the previous rules – in fact, that is their intention.
Above all, the aim of the driving test is to see whether you are a safe driver – which is ultimately what you, we and the DVSA all want!
What if I don’t have a sat nav?
Don’t worry – we’ll provide this for your test. We’ll also make sure you get chance to practice using it in the run up to your test.
Just ask your Progress driving instructor who will be happy to advise you.
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About the author
Tony Melling is a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor at Progress Driving School. Learn to drive with Progress and we will help you through your theory test and practical driving test. Enquire now about driving lessons with us in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Atherton, Croft, Culcheth, Garswood, Glazebury, Golborne, Haydock, Leigh, Lowton, Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Tyldesley and surrounding areas.