Road Safety News

DVSA sets out new-look driving test

Tuesday 8th August 2017

The DVSA has published a new blog post for driving instructors, highlighting what pupils can expect from the upcoming changes to the driving test.

Coming into effect on 4 December, the modernised test is designed to ensure newly qualified drivers have the skills, knowledge and confidence to drive on their own.

The test features four key changes, including increasing the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes and following directions on a sat nav as an alternative to following road signs.

Published today (8 August), the blog post features a number of short videos highlighting the changes in action.

The post explains the pre-briefing at the start of the test - as well as providing information on the new ‘tell me’ and ‘show me’ safety questions. The DVSA has also published a full list of the possible tell me questions.

The article goes on to explain how the examiner will ask the pupil to pull over before starting the independent driving part of the test. At this point, the examiner will select and start the route, if using a sat nav. One in five tests will involve following traffic signs, and not directions from a sat nav.

Looking at driving skills, the blog discusses the instructions that will be given to pupils when it is time to ‘pull up on the right and reverse’.

The blog post also explains how the examiner will ask the pupil to park in a bay, by either:

  • Reversing in and driving out (only in a driving test centre car park)
  • Driving in and reversing out (in any car park)

In conclusion, the blog reads: “The length of the test won't change as a result of the changes. We've designed it to fit into the current appointment time.

“If you took part in the trials of the test, you might have noticed it took a couple of minutes longer than the current test. However, we expect that to reduce as examiners become more familiar with the process. We'll also be using a different sat nav to the trial, and dash-mats, which should speed up fitting the sat nav.

“We'll keep a close eye on this and carry out a timing study in March 2018, once the new test has had time to settle in.”

Category: Driver training.



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Reference Nick's comments about commentary. Learning commentary is a gradual process and, in my view, much too complex for the standard driving test i.e the learner. He or she has enough to think of without converting visual into words. Besides, initially trying to do this can be distracting if the 'pupil' is not introduced to it the right way. And most ADIs probably can't do it themselves, at least in any competent fashion. So they would be no good to demonstrate it in the first place.

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Interesting Nigel - I've never given much thought to steering wheel grip with respect to seating position - I think most people tend to adopt what is comfortable, however I have seen many small drivers sitting too close to the steering wheel and seemingly barely able to see over it, which must surely compromise full control.

Are you aware of any research or observations made as to what drivers may do with their arms when they realise a collision is imminent? I can't help feeling if I was in that situation, I would instinctively take my hand(s) of the wheel and put them in front of my face - I don't intend to put it to the test though!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Noted, Hugh. Well, actually, as you will be well aware there is far more to steering, as it were, than just steering. There is posture, with proper and constant support to the back, which so called rotational steering does not give. To steer properly - to have full access to the wheel instead of just the top half - requires an optimally set driving position and that, combined with proper steering, in turn ensures correct and constant eye alignment with the rear-view mirror. Too many times I observe pupils with ADI's who are too close to the steering wheel, because they only use the top half. This means (1) their back will not be getting proper support in the seat and (2) he angle between the sightline and the view to the mirror is much greater, requiring a turn of the head instead of just flicking the eyes onto the mirror. And when you consider that one should be using the mirror on average approximately every 3-5 seconds that's going to cause a lot of neck ache, if indeed the mirror is being used at that rate. So it's far easier and less tiring to just flick the eyes onto the mirror. It all comes down to the fact that because ADIs don't need to steer properly, and it's not required on the test, then the associated factors are not appreciated or implemented. You will appreciate the wonderful old phrase, 'deportment at the wheel'. One look at that will tell you a lot, at least it does for me.

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I understand where your coming from Nigel and I'm not saying you're wrong to highlight the 'hands across the wheel' scenario, but 99.99999% of the time we're not colliding and a comfortable (but still as controllable) driving style/position which doesn't compromise safety, may be more important - for me anyway - and could even play an important part in maintaining our 99.99999 or even 100% non-collision rate.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Noted, Hugh (1) In any case reversing out of driveways is a DO NOT in the HC. I believe the HC should discourage, 'reversing from a minor situation into a major one', but then the HC is not necessarily written by people who understand these things. (2) You might agree that the biggest word in the English language is 'IF'. In the USA there are stats showing major injuries from this scenario, particularly if the watch arm in blown into the face.

You might agree that most of advanced work is based on the 'if' principle. - it might never happen but, if it does, we already have a strategy in place to protect ourselves. Just one example (pardon the soap box) is the front to rear end shunt. Most believe it will never happen to them, which is why they allow themselves to drive too close to other vehicles - but if it does happen it can be fatal, Is it worth the risk? No thank you.

So whilst the probability of getting caught out is very low - and I can't remember the last time I had to do an emergency stop I will preserve my safety zone, just in case. It just makes sense. With your experience I am sure you will agree with the sentiment.

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Fully agree with the reversing into parking spaces Nigel - includes private driveways as well - not so sure the hand across the wheel/airbag scenario is as significant a concern though. What are the chances...?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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I wonder how DVSA can talk about safety when (1) they allow steering which where the arm is across the steering wheel the driver is vulnerable to serious damage if the airbag deploys and, (2) that they actively encourage reversing out from parking bays, when the safest way out is clearly forward. I recently came across a driver who had reversed into the bay behind mine (as it were) and complimented her in doing so. Her answer was that she was taught that on her company's health and safety course! Interesting. In my view no driver worth their salt will be seen reversing out of parking places - and that is one of the two associated dangers with parking areas, the other is pedestrians. So, let not the DVSA say that the standard driving test is all about safety when clearly in some instances they are succumbing to the lowest common denominator. It's a slippery slope which it seems they keep moving down.

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I would be interested to know if introducing a commentary aspect to the test would be likely to improve on-going safety.

My own "gut feeling" is that as some of the most commonly assigned factors in collisions which I see are a result of drivers/riders (& pedestrians) failing to look properly, misjudging other's path or speed or disobeying give-way signs then the ability to observe what is happening around a driver and perhaps more importantly being able to process and act appropriately on that information would go a long way to reducing casualties.

Could somebody point me in the direction of some relevant research please as I don't think "gut feelings" are the way to go.
Nick, Lancashire

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The new electric cars are almost silent: what effect will this have on road safety and for drivers? Stop-Look-Listen won't have the vital factor of Sound for other road users, and there may be an assumption by drivers that their vehicle can be anticipated by Sound...
Ray Lee-Riley

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Jess, I understand your concerns but I was hoping I might be able to persuade you otherwise to the value of adding this in to the Practical Driving Test.

I know many new drivers find the practical driving test to be a highly stressful event in any case, however, I do feel that the addition of using a sat nav is a very good, and needed addition.

You’ve highlighted that research has been undertaken, and has shown that using a sat nav IS more distracting than using a phone. Unfortunately I cannot find any research that replicates this. There are, without doubt, distractions associated with using a sat nav as shown in this Brake article;

It’s worth noting that most poor driving behaviours related to using a sat nav were the result of the driver, not the sat nav. These arose from drivers correcting mistakes when following their sat nav, and then completing an illegal or risky manoeuvre to correct it.

If we are teaching new drivers how to correctly use a sat nav in order to pass there test, this can only be a good thing. ADI’s can provide information on how to correctly programme the sat nav, how to correct yourself without making an illegal or risky manoeuvre, and how to avoid making mistakes whilst concentrating on the driving environment in the first instance.

You may well be correct that there are many experienced drivers driving carelessly, however, this does not mean we should accept this as the standard and allow for new drivers to drive “as carelessly”.

Sat nav devices appear here to stay within the driving environment. Drivers who have already passed their test may not seek out instruction on how to follow a sat nav, but that does not mean we shouldn’t educate new drivers and help them avoid making the mistakes current drivers may be making.
James Fee, Nottingham

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Excellent - these changes will certainly sort out the wheat from the chaff. When will the DSA realise that endless tweaks will not suffice? The whole business of learning to drive needs root and branch overhaul. Perhaps if the candidates were required to give 15 minutes of decent commentary on test, we might see an improvement in the ability of those who have just passed to cope on their own in the big, bad world.
David, Suffolk

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Okay? They've done test that GPS is more distracting and dangerous for the driver than using your phone. So good one, add more stress for a learner driver, and by the way I have seen more older drivers driving carelessly then learner drivers.
Jess Knight, Chorley

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