Driving test changes to improve road safety

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Millions of newly qualified drivers will be better prepared for life on the road under changes to the driving test that will better reflect real life driving.

The proposals announced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will help reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads, and ensure safer drivers and journeys.

The changes are:

– Increase the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes

– Ask candidates to follow directions on a sat nav as an alternative to following road signs

– Replace current manoeuvres such as ‘reverse around a corner’ with more real life scenarios for example, driving into and reversing out of a parking bay

– Ask one of the two vehicle safety questions while the candidate is driving, for example, asking candidates to use the rear heated screen

The changes, subject to the outcome of research and consultation feedback, will be introduced in early 2017. The changes have been trialled with more than 4,500 learner drivers and 850 driving instructors in 32 locations across Great Britain.

The 6-week consultation closes on August 25.

Gareth Llewellyen, DVSA chief executive, said: “Great Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But there is scope to do more to keep road users safe – particularly newly qualified drivers.

“Making sure 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.”

These changes are designed to help reduce the number of collisions on higher risk roads – most fatal collisions are on this type of road, and using sat navs will open up routes to include these.

More than half of car drivers are now using sat navs, and the government wants new drivers to be trained to use these safely.

Lesley Young, DVSA chief driving examiner, said: “Research has shown that new drivers find ‘independent driving’ training valuable, as they can relate it to driving once they’ve passed their test.

“Candidates will be given more responsibility for decision making during the test. We want them to show they can cope with distractions and assess risk, without the intervention of their instructor or examiner.”

DVSA is working with the Transport Research Laboratory to find out how the proposed changes better reflect real-life driving. DVSA has also consulted with representatives from the driver training industry (including the approved driving instructor associations, RAC, IAM, RoSPA and the AA) who have been positive and supportive of the proposals.

For more information about the trial and highlight findings from the interim research report, visit the ‘improving the driving test’ section on www.gov.uk.