Driving test changes - all you need to know

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Are you learning to drive? Do you know how the changes to the test will affect you?

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), most fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads (excluding motorways) and account for a quarter of deaths among 15 to 19 year olds.

To help counter this, the DVSA has modernised the driving test to help give drivers the skills they’ll need to drive safely on modern roads (the changes came into effect on 4 December 2017).

New measures include learning to follow directions from an automated sat nav, which over 50% of drivers now have in their cars, rather than a navigator using a map.

Other reforms are intended to improve driving skills for new drivers, including a review of the manoeuvres made during the test. Manoeuvres such as reversing round a corner have been replaced with real-life scenarios such as pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing and then pulling out into the traffic again.

The good news is that the cost, pass mark and overall length of the test won’t change.

Andrew Jones, the UK transport minister, said: “Our roads are among the safest in the world. However, road collisions are the biggest killer of young people.

“These changes will help us to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skill they need to use our roads safely.”

“Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, said: “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.”

So what are the changes?

Independent driving time up from 10 to 20 minutes.

This tests the driver’s knowledge of the road, as they have to drive without turn-by-turn instruction from the examiner. This now takes up roughly half of the 40 minutes test, up from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

Use of sat nav

This independent driving section of the test is now conducted using a combination of sat nav instruction and road signs. The examiner provides and sets up the device and provide the route.

Not all tests will use a sat nav, with roughly one in five tests keeping the old format of using road traffic signs and instruction from the examiner.

Modified reversing manoeuvres

While you will probably still be taught (depending on your instructor) the ‘reverse around the corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres, you won’t be tested on them any longer.

Instead, you will be asked to perform one of three possible reversing manoeuvres – parallel parking at the side of a road, parking in a bay (either reversing in or reversing out) or pulling in to the right-hand side of the road and reversing before re-joining traffic.

Answering vehicle safety knowledge while driving

Previously, this part of the test was completed prior to driving and was known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. Now, the ‘show me’ question takes place during the test.

The examiner asks a ‘tell me’ question at the start of the test where you have to explain how to do a safety task. Then, when you are driving they will ask a ’show me’ question where you will have to show them you can carry out the safety task – such as switching on the rear windscreen wipers or rear window heater, for example. 

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