Changes are being made to the driving test, with emphasis on technology and realistic driving situations.

The government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says the changes will make the test a better assessment of a candidate’s ability to drive in modern conditions.

The four main changes are:

  • Increase the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Ask candidates to follow directions from a sat-nav during the ‘independent driving’ part.
  • Replace the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ manoeuvres with more real-life scenarios, eg driving into and reversing out of a parking bay.
  • Ask one of the two vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) while the candidate is driving, eg asking them to use the rear heated screen.

What to expect on your driving test?

The new driving test changes for 2017, which will be introduced from December 4, are essentially a variation on a theme, which means the layout of the test won’t change dramatically.

Something to be aware of, however, is that you will be asked a theory question (commonly called the ‘show me, tell me’ questions) while driving, as opposed to just being asked when you are stationary.

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You will also be required to drive independently (with prior guidance from your examiner) for 20 minutes not 10 minutes. Being able to read a sat-nav display while driving will also be a requirement.

The biggest change comes in the form of the types of manoeuvres you will have to execute. Any new manoeuvres required in the test should be factored into your driving lessons, however, to allow you to appropriately practice.

Why is the test changing?

According to figures, road collisions are the leading cause of death for young drivers aged between 15 and 24 – and the most fatal accidents occur on high-speed rural roads. A massive 52 per cent of drivers now use sat-nav devices while driving as well.

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With that, the DVSA were keen to modernise the driving test and make it more relevant, acknowledging key areas that clearly need greater attention.

One of the big focus points is the independent driving section, which younger drivers have said is especially useful.

What’s been said about the changes?

DVSA chief driving examiner Lesley Young said: “Candidates will be given more responsibility for making decisions during the test.

“We want them to show they can cope with distractions and assess risk without the intervention of their instructor or examiner.”

Driving Instructors Association CEO Carly Brookfield said: “We fully welcome the developments to the test and are compelled by the evidence we have seen to date from the trial to recommend that these long overdue developments are made to a driving test - which has been fundamentally unchanged for over 20 years and has not kept pace with how our roads and driver behaviour has developed over time.”

British School of Motoring head Mark Peacock said: “The proposed changes to the practical driving test, particularly the extended independent driving and use of a sat-nav, should help to produce better, safer motorists.”

AA president Edmund King said: “We know that new drivers are a higher risk on the roads, therefore we need to better prepare them for real-world driving.

“These changes will test drivers in a more realistic manner which is essential to improving their safety once their L plates are removed.”

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