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.
From today 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.
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.
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.
However, driving test examiners are launching a 48-hour strike on the day a new test is launched.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union will mount picket lines outside test centres across the country on Monday and Tuesday.
The union said examiners are being told to work longer, harder and for no extra pay when the new tests are introduced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
The four big changes
1. More independent driving
The current 10 minutes of independent driving will be increased to 20 minutes using a satnav OR traffic signs.
The examiner will decide if road signs or sat nav will be used for this part of the test.
2. Using a satnav
You might have spotted that in the previous section – the satnav is being introduced to the driving test.
The equipment will be provided and set by the examiner and all will use a standardised TomTom Start 52 model.
Four in five people doing their driving test will be asked to use the satnav.
3. Changes to manoeuvre
Currently, you’ll be asked to demonstrate one of four manoeuvres on your driving test.
From December 4, the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvre will no longer be tested – although the DVSA say you should still be taught them by your instructor.
That means you’ll be tested on one of the following three 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; pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic.
4. ‘Show me, tell me’ questions
The ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’ questions about car safety will change slightly.
You’ll still be asked the ‘tell me’ question at the start of the test but the ‘show me’ question will be asked during the test – for example, demonstrating you know how to use the windscreen wipers.
So what isn’t changing?
The pass mark is staying the same – no more than 15 driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults will get you a pass.
And don’t worry, the overall time of the driving test won’t change, it will still be around 40 minutes.
Most importantly, there’s no financial impact – the driving test cost will also stay the same.
Who is this going to affect?
These changes will apply to anyone taking their car driving test from December 4, 2017.
The changes will also apply if you fail a test before then and retake your test from that date or if your test is cancelled or moved for any reason and is rescheduled after that date.
What do driving experts say?
The modifications to the test which came into force today were welcomed by driving experts and road safety groups.
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.”
What about driving instructors?
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face.
“They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are.
“No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test.”
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