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Major changes in driving tests come into force today

Richard Hartley-Parkinson

Major changes in driving tests come into force today
It’s the biggest change since the theory test was introduced in 1996 (Picture: Getty)

The driving test has undergone its most significant shake up since the written theory exam was introduced in 1996.

The practical test has been changed to make it a more realistic assessment of learners’ driving ability.

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From Monday the length of independent driving is being doubled to 20 minutes and candidates will have to follow directions from a sat nav.

Rare manoeuvres such as reversing around a corner are being replaced by more common scenarios like entering a parking bay.

Learners will also have to answer a vehicle safety question while driving, for example telling the examiner how they would wash the windscreen using the car’s controls and wipers.

The main changes

  • Reversing round a corner and turn in the road will be scrapped
  • Learners will have to follow sat nav directions
  • Independent driving will increase form 10 to 20 minutes
  • Answer questions about vehicle safety while driving
Major changes in driving tests come into force today
Instructors say the reverse manouevre is potentially dangerous as it requires a driver to pull up on the right hand side of the road, reverse two car lengths and then rejoin the traffic.(Picture: Getty)

Department for Transport figures show that younger drivers are up to seven times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads compared with those over 25.

It is believed that their lack of experience is an important factor.

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The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) chief driving examiner, Lesley Young, said: ‘The new test will help prepare new drivers for driving on modern roads and support a reduction in the number of young people killed or seriously injured.’

From next year learners will be allowed to take motorway driving lessons with an approved instructor.

With the advance of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, the DVSA will also consider how candidates will need to demonstrate they can use new technology safely.

Major changes in driving tests come into force today
Learner drivers will be expected to be able to follow sat nav instructions while driving (Picture: PA)

Ms Young said: ‘We’ll continue to explore opportunities to further develop driver training and testing to make sure the driving test reflects real life driving.’

The modifications to the test which came into force on Monday were welcomed by driving experts and road safety groups.

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AA president Edmund King said the new test ‘now reflects real life driving’ and predicted that people who pass it will have ‘more confidence when driving solo’.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, commented: ‘Coming up with revisions to the driving test that better reflect the real world challenges of driving in traffic must be a good move.’

Road Safety GB chair Sonya Hurt said: ‘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.’

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