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Everything you need to know about the new UK driving test

Changes come into effect on 4th December 2017.

Drivers will face four major changes from December 2017.

Drivers will face four major changes from December 2017.

The Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is changing the way that the practical driving test works. Anyone sitting their driving test after 4th December 2017 in England, Scotland and Wales will sit the new version of the test. This includes those who have sat and failed a test already, or anyone sitting a test rescheduled from an earlier date.

What are the changes to the driving test?

There are four major changes to the driving test designed to help assess safe driving and taking into account how we use technology when we drive.

More independent driving

The independent driving section will now make up half the test with an increase from 10 to 20 minutes. During this section, the instructor observes driving while the driver follows directions.

Following a sat nav

Most driving tests will involve following directions from a sat nav. Each test will use a TomTom Start 52, which will be set up and programmed by the examiner. If anything is unclear, you can still ask the examiner to clarify. If you go the wrong way at any point, you will not be penalised unless you commit a fault at the same time ¬– it’s safe driving that counts. One in five tests will not use the sat nav with candidates asked to follow traffic signs instead.

Reversing manoeuvres have changed

Turning in the road and reversing round a corner are no longer to be examined in the test, although these manoeuvres will still will be taught by instructors. Instead drivers will be asked to do one of the following:

• Parallel park at the side of the road. • Park in a bay as instructed: either reversing in and driving out or driving in and reversing out. • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and then safely rejoin the traffic.

Drivers will be asked safety questions during the test.

Drivers will be asked to show and tell the instructor aspects of safety through two questions. Before the test begins, they’ll be asked to explain how to carry out a safety task e.g. how to check tyres are in good condition for driving. During the test, they’ll be asked to show how to carry out a safety task using the car’s controls, for example, how to demist the front window.

Why are the changes being made?

According to figures from the DVSA, road collisions are the biggest killer of young people, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths of those aged between 15 and 19 with most of these collisions taking place on high speed roads. The new format provides more opportunity for routes to include these higher-risk roads and ensures drivers will be better trained to handle these conditions.

New cars increasingly have sat navs as standard, with 52% of new cars now fitted with the devices. As this is a trend that’s likely to continue, the DVSA wanted to ensure that new drivers had the skills to drive while using one for navigation.

Almost 4,000 people took part in a public consultation and 4,300 learners and 860 driving instructors were involved in a trial of the new elements. The results of the consultation showed that 88.2% agreed with increasing the length of the independent driving section while 70.8% agreed to the instructing the candidates to follow directions from a sat nav.

How long is the new test?

The duration of the test remains unchanged at around 40 minutes. However, the length of time spent on the different elements has changed significantly.

Will the pass mark change?

The pass mark remains the same meaning that the driver can make no more than 15 minor driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults.

How much will the new test cost?

The cost of the driving test remains the same at £62 during daytime on weekdays and £75 at evenings, weekends and bank holidays. The theory test is separate and costs £23. Full details of prices for all driving tests can be found here.

What is the format of the driving test?

The test lasts approximately 40 minutes. If you wish, your instructor can accompany you as a passenger.

  • Before starting there will be an eyesight test and one safety question will be asked.

  • The drive will cover various roads and in a range of traffic conditions.

  • The independent driving section will last approximately 20 minutes.

  • Candidates will be asked another safety question during the drive.

  • Drivers will be asked to do a single reversing manoeuvre.

  • Controlled stops will also be required.

  • The examiner may ask for a demonstration of an emergency stop.

  • At the end of the test, the examiner will provide feedback and tell the driver if they have passed.

About the Author

Andrew Moir

Staff writer at Arnold Clark.