The much anticipated new look practical driving test, which includes a longer independent driving section and requires candidates to follow a satnav, comes into effect today (*4 Dec).
First announced by the DVSA in April 2017, the modernised test is designed to ensure learner drivers ‘face a more realistic assessment of their driving ability’, and helps to ‘prepare them for a lifetime of safe driving’. The new test has received the backing of road safety stakeholders, including Road Safety GB, whose chair Sonya Hurt says the changes make the test fit for the 21st Century.
However, the launch of the new test could be marred by industrial action by driving examiners who are set to strike on 4 and 5 December in a dispute about working conditions. The Public and Commercial Services Union says around 2,000 examiners are set to strike which will cause 'large-scale cancellations of tests'.
In the new test learner drivers will drive for around 30 minutes, and will be expected to:
- Drive independently for around 20 minutes (an increase from the current 10 mins) while following directions from a sat nav or a series of traffic signs
- Do one of the following three reversing manoeuvres: 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 rejoin the traffic
- Answer a vehicle safety question while driving - for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers.
Lesley Young, DVSA chief driving examiner, said: “DVSA is committed to helping drivers through a lifetime of safe driving. The new test will help prepare new drivers for driving on modern roads and support a reduction in the number of young people killed and seriously injured on our roads. We’ll continue to explore opportunities to further develop driver training and testing to make sure the driving test reflects real-life driving.”
Sonya Hurt, chair of Road Safety GB, said: "We fully support the changes that have been introduced in the new practical driving test, which we believe will provide a more realistic assessment of a candidate’s ability to drive without supervision. Modern vehicles feature an increasing array of driver assist technology, and as such it is sensible and realistic to test the candidate’s ability to use a sat nav system. We also welcome the fact that the new regime will allow test candidates more time on the rural road network, where the consequences of inexperience can be particularly devastating. We are looking forward to the roll-out of a driving test designed for the 21st Century.”
The changes are part of work set out in the DVSA’s five-year strategy for 2017 to 2022, titled, ‘Helping you stay safe on Britain’s roads’. Earlier this year, the Government also announced that from 2018 learner drivers will be allowed to take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor.