Between February 2015 to February 2016, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have undertaken trials for the new 2017 practical driving test.
Little has changed in the current driving test since the introduction of independent driving in 2010 and with this, the DVSA have set out plans to update the driving test in a way that reflects current driving habits.
The DVSA state that this is to increase road safety and reduce the number of traffic accidents, particularly among young drivers.
The trials conducted between 850 driving instructors and 4,500 learner drivers is set to become reality for all, in England, Scotland and Wales from Monday 4 December 2017.
The driving test price will remain unchanged and though most driving instructors welcome a modern, realistic driving test, many have expressed concern over the reaction to the new test changes.
With waiting times already well in excess of 10 weeks at certain test centres, the fear is that learner drivers will be rushing to book their test before the new test procedures are implemented. This will clearly result in much longer test waiting times than those that currently hinder many test centres.
Driving instructors request that waiting times are significantly reduced before the new test is introduced. Whether the DVSA can reduce waiting times remains to be seen, though they are employing more examiners and opening new test centres to address the issue. The DVSA are also looking at test centre hours of operation in certain areas to include evening and weekends.
Changes Made for the December 2017 Driving Test
Currently, this section of the driving test involves reading (whilst stopped) and following (from memory) directions from a basic map and following road signs to a predetermined location. This will continue, along with an extra 10 minutes of following directions given by a sat nav. Following guidance from a sat nav applies to four-in-five tests conducted. Where a sat nav isn’t used, you’ll need to follow traffic signs instead. You cannot use your own sat nav during the test, the examiner will provide the sat nav and set it up and input the route. You’ll be able to ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if you’re not sure. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way unless you make a fault while doing it.
Two manoeuvres currently requested by the examiner during a driving test are the turn in the road and reverse around a corner will no longer apply. You’ll be asked to do one of three possible reversing manoeuvres:
At the start of a practical driving test, examiners ask one ‘show me’ and one ‘tell me’ vehicle safety question. One of these questions will be asked whilst the test candidate is driving. An example could be to show the examiner how you would clean the front windscreen by use of washers and wipers.
Until now, learner drivers have not been permitted on motorways. Under the new 2017 driving test changes, it has been confirmed that learner drivers will be entitled to take driving lessons on motorways, though this is voluntary. Lessons on a motorway must be taken only with an approved driving instructor (ADI) and in a car fitted with dual controls. However, until the new law comes into effect sometime during 2018, it is still illegal for learner drivers to drive on motorways.
2017 Driving Test Pass Mark
The grading system or pass mark for the 2017 driving test will remain unchanged. You’ll fail if you receive 16 or more driving faults or any serious or dangerous faults.
Will the Driving Test Changes Work?
It’s a little unclear until the changes are implemented and statistical data is analysed. The fact that young drivers represent the highest road collision rates isn’t always down to experience, but attitude. Perhaps more stringent procedures should be implemented such as:
- Night Driving – Distinguishing one road user from another is much harder at night, as is correctly gauging traffic speed. Advanced driving courses such as Pass Plus already cover night driving and motorway driving. These courses are however voluntary and infrequently taken.
- Black Box Insurance – Otherwise know as telematics insurance to be compulsory for all young drivers. These boxes record a drivers speed, distance traveled, time of day, but more importantly it records driving style such as braking, acceleration and cornering. These types of insurance encourage young driver to use the road safely due to a rise in premium if unsafe driving is detected.
Further details have been released by the DVSA in relation to the new driving test – in particular, some of the verbal instructions given by examiners to test candidates. For further information, see: