No, driving tests do not take place in the dark and are only conducted during daylight hours. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) state that the reasons for this are to ensure consistency and to maintain a sufficient level of vision.
They state: ”This ensures that tests are conducted on a consistent level and good all-round vision is available to both the candidate and the examiner. Drivers and examiners require a sufficient range of vision to make informed decisions, for both correct driver action and examiner assessment.”
For this reason, driving test time slots finish earlier during the winter compared to the summer months where we have longer hours of daylight. This can be seen with the available practical driving test booking slots via the DVSA test booking website.
Varied Driving Experiences
You could argue that this rather rigid testing format can exclude some learner drivers and new drivers from certain driving experiences. Many new drivers will have never had a driving lesson in the dark and learners will typically book a driving lesson at a time to specifically avoid this. Why shouldn’t they? It’s harder to drive in the dark and there’s no compulsory legal requirement to do so.
Regulations regarding driving lessons may change to include a minimum amount of driving hours that must be taken, over a minimum amount of time (12 months for example) and to include varied driving situations such as driving in bad weather and driving in the dark.
These changes are currently only being proposed by road and traffic safety experts, but it stands to reason that the greater the experience a new driver has, the better prepared they will be.
Driving in the dark will see a new driver faced with significantly reduced visibility and an increase in difficulty for judging distances and speed. It’s not an ideal situation to find yourself in for the first time on your own.
If you are currently having driving lessons, it’s highly advisable to take some lessons during the hours of darkness to gain valuable experience. This can of course be difficult during the summer months with daylight extending to the later hours, particularly as your instructor may not offer lessons this late. But if this isn’t an option, perhaps consider private lessons from a friend or family member if possible. See teaching someone to drive for the legal details and various tips.
Failing that, you can continue to extend your driving experiences with an advanced driving course such as Pass Plus. Pass Plus is intended for new drivers and fills in the gaps that normal driving lessons often miss, such as bad weather driving and driving in the dark.