Road Safety News

Government set to evolve practical driving test

Friday 13th May 2016

The Government is set to make changes to the practical driving test in a bid to ensure it reflects the modern driving experience.

The moves were unveiled yesterday (12 May) as part of the Government’s new motoring services strategy covering the future of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA); the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon says the changes, which are to take into account local variations and increasing vehicle automation, will prepare drivers “for a lifetime of safe road use”.

Novice drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents. Drivers who have held a full licence for less than six months are involved in 15% of collisions, despite only accounting for 5% of the miles driven.

The Government says it is important to encourage ADIs to place an emphasis on learning to drive, rather than simply learning to pass the test. It also wants a greater focus on creating more respect for other road users, particularly the most vulnerable.

The new strategy, which sets out the DfT’s vision for the three motoring agencies until 2020, includes plans to allow learner drivers accompanied by an ADI to drive on the motorway network in a dual controlled car.

It also outlines plans to expand the range of test slots available outside daytime weekday slots, on a permanent basis, across a wider range of centres than at present.

Other areas of focus in the strategy include looking at how to ensure haulage and bus and coach operators can access all services efficiently and flexibly to suit their needs, and how to best support the UK automotive industry.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, transport secretary, said: “The DfT’s thee motoring services agencies, the DVLA, the DVSA and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) are key to ensuring the United Kingdom’s road network plays its part in promoting the future prosperity of our nation.

“I am today publishing a strategy for the agencies, which sets out the direction they will take over the remainder of this Parliament.

“The strategy sets out our vision for the agencies’ future: how we can better support those learning to drive to ensure they are properly prepared to take their practical test, what we can do to ensure haulage and bus and coach operators can access all our services efficiently and flexibly to suit their needs, and how we can best support the UK automotive industry.

“Recognising this country’s enviable road safety record, and the importance of the highway network to the economy, we reiterate the need for driver training that prepares people for a lifetime of safe road use.

“We will examine the potential benefits of different models for delivery of the practical driving test. We will strengthen the agencies’ relationships with commercial users of their services, whose needs can be very different from those of individual members of the public.”

The RAC has welcomed the Government's efforts to modernise the practical driving test.

Peter Williams, RAC head of external affairs, said: “The nature of driving in the UK is changing at a tremendous pace so we are pleased to see the Government is finally responding by comprehensively reviewing the driving test, with the aim of ensuring the next generation of motorists are as well prepared as possible.”

“The RAC welcomes efforts to modernise the practical driving test and improve the service offered to motorists who are starting their motoring careers. This includes plans to drive down waiting times for practical tests; data collected by the RAC shows average waiting times to take a practical rose through 2015. New drivers will also welcome the greater flexibility associated with proposals for tests to be offered outside normal weekday hours.” 


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

I cannot believe that that a changed test will 'prepare one for a lifetime of safe road use'. On-going training and/or self improvement through keeping up to date with legislation changes and practices are essential for continued SAFE use of the highway network. How many drivers, for instance, are aware of how children are taught to cycle with 'Bikeability' and therefore react accordingly? I'm very supportive of the changes to the test, and in supporting cycle training as a way to better car driving but please don't give the message that it will prepare you for (a long!) lifetime of safe driving.
Nicola Foster

Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

All very well encouraging ADIs to teach people to learn to drive, not just pass the test, but the biggest pressure on ADIs is people wanting to pass as cheaply and quickly as possible. While the paying customer is in this position of strength, nothing will change.
Keith, Bucks

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

Sorry, Charles, that should have read, 'would NOT disagree with that'. Apologies for typo.

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

it is about time drivers were taught to respect other road users. So many think that the carriageway is for their sole use and pedestrians should get out of the way, totally disregarding their equal, legal right to be there.
Tony Sarjeant

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

I would disagree with that, Charles, but the major issue is that kids, from the time they look over the dashboard, will have something over 10 years imprinting often from someone who would themselves not pass the standard driving test if spot tested today. And, as a general guideline, a few lessons with ADIs is not going to remove any bad (and therefore potentially dangerous) habits already imprinted over a long time. That's where the real issue is, in my view.

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

It is probably time we added driving to the national curriculum too. Apart from the safety advantage of making driving a normal and common life-skill from an earlier age (rather than leaving it as a the macho and glamorous sign of maturity that it is today), anyone leaving school without a driving licence is at a serious disadvantage in the real world.
Charles, England

Agree (6) | Disagree (12)

Always good to see that things are being reviewed with a view to making them better. However, quoting from above, 'The Government says it is important to encourage ADIs to place an emphasis on learning to drive, rather than simply learning to pass the test.' Whilst this might loosely imply that 'learning to drive' suggests safe driving practices, it doesn't actually say that. On that theme DSA indicated they were working to the lowest common denominator when it no longer became necessary for ADIs to know, use, teach etc a proper system of steering. That's not being pedantic; there are definite safety elements in steering properly. But there are other associated aspects in a proper driving position and head alignment with mirror. So it's not just about steering. In a way it goes back to the old saying, 'Take care of the small things and the big things take care of themselves'. Which means if a driver can't be bothered to get steering and (that lovely old saying) deportment at the wheel right, then there are probably going to be a lot of other things which are not right as well, which ultimately means greater vulnerability to crashes.

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

Good to see proposals for greater emphasis on driver awareness of vulnerable people, as hostile highway environments and fear of traffic can increase isolation.
John Onslow, Norfolk

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)