RAC Cars News


Driving Test Overhaul

By raccars Published

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It looks like the government has plans for a major driving test revamp, which could bring about the biggest changes for learner drivers in two decades. Traditional manoeuvres, such as the 'three point turn,' are set to be replaced with more modern requirements, including following satellite navigation system directions, instead of road signs.

The practical exam is to receive a major facelift to make it more relevant to modern driving conditions. New parking manoeuvres will be introduced to the learning process, which could see an end to the dreaded turn in the road, more commonly known as the 'three point turn.' The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), will be trialling the proposed new measures on around 1,000 learner drivers nationwide.

Among the options under consideration is an extension of the independent driving part of the test to 20 minutes, double the current 10 minutes. This would mean independent driving would make up half of the 40 minute total practical test length. Along with the three point turn, other traditional manoeuvres under threat include reversing around a corner. These could potentially be replaced with more modern and supposedly more relevant equivalents, such as reversing out of a parking space and pulling over to the side of the road then rejoining the moving traffic.

Currently, candidates are asked a couple of safety questions at the beginning of the test, but the DVSA is now considering asking questions on the move, choosing from options including how to operate the heated rear windscreen.

There have been very few updates to the British driving test for about 20 years, since the theory test was introduced in 1996. A video hazard perception test, two 'Show Me, Tell Me' safety questions and a new independent driving section, where candidates have to find their own way to a destination, have been added in more recent years. The DVSA claims no changes to the current system will be implemented without a public consultation.

The potential changes have been welcomed by the Driving Instructors Association (DIA), which has been involved in working out how to make the test conditions more representative of real world driving. Other motoring organisations are more cautious, with the RAC suggesting that traditional manoeuvres, such as the three point turn, could be useful in the event of an inevitable sat nav error.

Driving tests were introduced in Britain in 1935. At the time, there were 1.5 million registered vehicles on the road but 7,000 annual road deaths.

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