Along with stuff like choosing which A-level subjects and degree course to take, getting the keys to your own rented or mortgaged property and walking down the aisle, learning to drive and passing the practical test has got to be up there with life’s big moments.
The most major change last made to driving tests in the UK was back in 2010 when the ‘independent driving’ element was introduced, partly to try and break the perception that learning to pass the test and learning to drive in the real world are two different things.
Car technology, human beings, roads and lot of other factors are constantly changing and the DVSA identified a couple of years ago that driving tests need modernising again, so for twelve months they carried out trials with 4,500 learners and 850 driving instructors, resulting in pretty big changes coming later this year, 2017.
Motorway Driving – learners aren’t currently allowed on motorways, which isn’t exactly helpful if someone lands a new job just after passing their test and discovers that they’re too terrified to commute on the motorway, taking much longer to get there on A and B-roads. The 2017 driving test changes will mean that learners can choose for one or more lessons to be on motorways as long as it’s with an approved driving instructor (ADI) and the car has dual controls.
Independent Driving – since 2010, this very positive part of driving tests has required students to drive for 10 minutes by following road signs, verbal directions or a mix of the two, after being shown a simple map beforehand by the examiner. With 52% of drivers now having access to some kind of sat nav, whether it’s one built into the dashboard or by using a phone app, the DVSA has decided to allow GPS to be used during the independent driving part of the test, the voice of the sat nav replacing that of the examiner. The length of this part of the test will be doubled in length to 20 minutes, making it more realistic and allowing the examiner to observe the candidate driving as naturally as possible.
‘Show me, tell me’ – originally introduced in 2003 with examiners asking candidates to show or explain, at the start of the test, how they would perform two basic safety or maintenance tasks, the possible list of questions has now been expanded to 19 and examiners will now ask one of them while the learner is driving.
Manoeuvres – things move on and the DVSA feels it’s time to replace manoeuvres like ‘reversing around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ with ones that are more relevant in modern life, such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay, which can be scary for some new drivers.
With road accidents still the main cause of deaths involving young people between the ages of 15 and 19, with learners feeling that lessons and tests weren’t reflecting real life habits and situations, with new cars’ touchscreens becoming more distracting and with the UK’s roads getting busier each year, we reckon the driving test changes for 2017 are positive.
An exact date hasn’t been announced by the government yet, but the introduction of the changes is as certain as Coronation Street being broadcast on ITV1 on a Monday at 7:30pm, and they’re definitely not to be worried about. Think of them more like improvements making the test more modern and relevant for today’s young drivers.
We’ll let all our social media followers on Facebook and Twitter know as soon as an official date is announced for the test changes. In the meantime, don’t panic and book your test before you’re ready, just to avoid the four main enhancements on the way. Driving test centre waiting lists are long enough as it is in some parts of the UK…