The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed that the driving test in England, Scotland and Wales is changing as of Monday, December 4.
The changes, which will only apply to car driving tests to start with, are designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.
They are also intended to bring the UK test up to date with changes in technology.
Here are the four changes to the UK driving test
1. Independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes
The independent driving part of the test currently lasts around 10 minutes. During this part of the test, you have to drive without turn-by-turn directions from the driving examiner.
This part of the test will be made longer, so it’ll last around 20 minutes - roughly half of the test.
2. Following directions from a sat nav
During the independent driving part of the test, most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav.
The examiner will provide the sat nav (a TomTom Start 52) and set it up. You won’t need to set the route - the examiner will do this for you. So, it doesn’t matter what make or model of sat nav you practise with.
You can’t follow directions from your own sat nav during the test - you have to use the one supplied by the examiner.
You’ll be able to ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if you’re not sure. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way unless you make a fault while doing it.
One in five driving tests won’t use a sat nav. You’ll need to follow traffic signs instead.
3. Reversing manoeuvres will be changed
The ‘reverse around a corner’ and 'three point turn' manoeuvres will no longer be tested, but you should still be taught them by your instructor.
You’ll be asked to do one of three possible reversing 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 (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
- pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and rejoin the traffic
4. Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving
The examiner will ask you two vehicle safety questions during your driving test - these are known as the 'show me, tell me questions'.
You’ll be asked the:
- ‘tell me’ question (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving
- ‘show me’ question (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) while you’re driving - for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers.
All car driving tests taken from December 4 this year will use the new format, and this includes if you fail a test before then and retake it after that date; or if your test is cancelled or changed for any reason and your new test date is from December 4.
Meanwhile, the pass mark will stay the same - you will receive a pass if you make no more than 15 driving faults and no serious faults. The current driving test cost of £62 also remains the same.
Motorway driving for learners
And as of 2018, learner drivers will be allowed to take driving lessons on motorways to ensure more drivers know how to use them safely.
Currently, you need to have passed your test before you can go on motorways, although some new drivers take lessons on motorways through the voluntary Pass Plus scheme.
Motorway driving will not be included in the driving test changes coming into force on December 4. The exact date in 2018 is not yet confirmed but will be well publicised so driving instructors and learner drivers are prepared for the change and other road users know what to expect.
Until the law is changed, it’s still illegal for a learner driver to drive on a motorway.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said of the new driving test changes: “ We hope that the new test will help learner drivers to adapt to the modern conditions of our roads, especially through the independent driving and sat nav additions.
“It’s slightly concerning that many driving instructors deem one of the new manoeuvres ‘dangerous’, but we must trust that those learners who will be practicing these skills early will develop safe driving habits to last a life time.
“Our research showed that 73% of drivers believe motorway driving should be tested, and so it’s likely many people will welcome the law change which allows learner drivers to practice on motorways from 2018.
“Drivers have to put up with seeing poor driving on our roads every day, so their views should be reflected in what learners are taught in order to improve the standard of driving across the UK. We would urge drivers to take part in our poll and have their say.”