By in Industry

New Driving Test Trials

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have for the last few months been trialing a new style test with a view to introducing a revamped version. It has long been discussed by driving instructors and examiners that the driving test is not like real life driving and a few years ago the DVSA introduced the independent driving part of the driving test, a real step forward. Now the test is going to be changed again and in my mind some of the changes are correct and some horribly wrong.  The DVSA are thinking of removing,

  • Reversing around a corner
  • Turn in the road (3 point turn)
  • 10 minutes independent drive using signs/markings

They are introducing other manoeuvres which they believe are more like real life, these are,

  • Pulling into a parking bay nose first and reversing out to the left or right
  • Pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing back 2 car lengths and then pulling off.

For many years driving instructors have taught their pupils to reverse into a parking bay because it is the safest way of leaving a bay. This is a skill used in everyday life so I agree it should be included in the test and I also agree that reversing around a corner or the turn in the road manoeuvres are out of date and should be removed from the test but pulling upon the right hand side of the road, reversing back 2 car lengths to pull away seems just a little too simple to be included in a driving test. There’s no real challenge in this manoeuvre.

Anyone who has taken their driving test in last few years will know that the test also includes 2 of a possible 19 safety check questions or as they are known by driving instructors Show Tell questions. We refer to them as these as the DVSA examiners will say “can you tell me ….” or “can you show me ……” Presently both questions are asked whilst at the test centre before you start to drive but they are proposing to ask 1 at the test centre and 1 whilst on the move. The questions bank will also be increased to possibly include,

  • Can you show me how you would use the radio in this vehicle
  • Can you show me how you would use the cruise control in this vehicle

These questions aren’t too technical but it could all go wrong for a pupil if they get flustered in an already nervous situation and in many cars the radio is via a touch screen which could cause real safety issues as the pupil will need to be playing with controls for some time. I would just like to point out to the DVSA that the government have been showing adverts on TV, with people crashing due to being distracted by radios etc, for many years.

My main concern is with the changes to the independent drive part of the driving test. The DVSA are thinking f taking away the present 10 minute independent drive and replacing it with a 20 minute drive following a Sat Nat to a particular point. My concerns are,

  1. Sat Navs are often wrong/not up to date
  2. Speed changes or temporary speeds are not registered and this could be confusing for the pupil
  3. People don’t use Sat Navs each day just when they go on holiday or into places they don’t know. They do not use them for day to day driving e.g. going to work or to visit family/friends

Along with many driving instructors I was invited to take part in the trials but this is a for gone conclusion and the recommendations for the new test will in my opinion be implemented. The DVSA are not going to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on something that they believe will not work and having listened to presentations by the lead examiner I believe that the decision has already been made and that this is just a way of justifying the changes. I do agree however that changes do need to be made and that some of the changes are a move in the right direction, the independent drive/Sat Nav change is a major error.