New UK driving test changes to include safe use of a sat nav system


The UK Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has confirmed that the driving test in England, Scotland and Wales will change from December 4 this year to include following directions from a satellite navigation device (sat nav) and testing different maneuvers.

The changes are being made because the DVSA wants to make sure that training and the driving test reduces the number of young people being killed in road collisions, which currently accounts for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19. Research shows that most fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads (not including motorways), changing the format will allow more of these types of roads to be included in driving test routes. As 52% of car drivers now have a sat nav device, the DVSA wants new drivers to be trained to use them safely.

The four car driving test changes are:

The independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes from its current 10, with the learner having to drive without turn-by-turn directions from the examiner; Following directions from a sat nav during the independent driving part of the test, with the examiner providing the device and setting it up with a route, although it will matter if the driver goes the wrong way, unless they make a fault while doing so; Reversing maneuvers will be changed, with ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn in the road’ no longer tested, and replaced with: parallel park at the side of the road, park in a bay reversing in or out, or pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and rejoin the traffic; Answering a vehicle safety ‘show me’ question while driving, such as how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers.

The driving test changes follow a public consultation that over 3,900 people took part in, and a trial of the changes conducted by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), which involved over 4,300 learner drivers and over 860 driving instructors. The proposals were widely supported by the public consultation, with between 70-88% agreeing with the four changes to parts of the test.

“Our roads are among the safest in the world. However, road collisions are the biggest killer of young people,” noted UK Transport Minister, Andrew Jones, announcing the new testing procedures. “These changes will help us to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads, and equip new drivers with the skill they need to use our roads safely.”

The DVSA’s chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said, “Our priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving. Making sure the driving test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads. It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology, and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed their test.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).