The UK driving test is set for its biggest shake-up in 20 years, with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) trialling new elements to equip new drivers with modern driving skills.
The DVSA is testing the changes in 32 locations across the UK until the end of 2016. The changes are intended to make the test more relevant to modern driving skills, including the use of sat nav systems.
If rolled out nationally, it will be the most significant update of the driving test since the introduction of the driving theory element in 1996.
More independent driving
Under the proposed plans, the ‘independent driving’ section of the practical test could be extended from 10 to 20 minutes. The independent driving section was introduced in the UK in October 2010 and requires drivers to follow road signs or verbal instructions to a destination. In an effort to equip new drivers with the day-to-day skills used on modern roads, the independent driving part will now include following instructions from a sat nav system in place of road signs.
During the new driving test, the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ (commonly known as a three-point turn) manoeuvres will be replaced with more real-life scenarios such as reversing into and out of parking bays.
There will also be new changes to the vehicle safety questions (also known as the ‘show me, tell me’ section), first introduced in 2003. Drivers will now be asked to answer one of the questions while driving, which could include demonstrating use of features such as the heated windscreen.
It’s hoped the changes will better prepare new drivers for life on the roads and reduce accidents. Research from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has suggested that one in five drivers crash within their first year on the road.
DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “Great Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But there’s still more that we can do to keep road users safe – particularly newly-qualified drivers.
“Making sure that the test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help every driver through a lifetime of safe driving.”