The UK’s practical driving test could be about to get its biggest shake-up in 20 years.The Government has signaled plans to make it better reflect real-world driving habits and modern technology employed by motorists.
Around 1,000 learner drivers at 20 testing centres across Britain will take part in trials of a new practical driving test. If popular, the changes will become permanent, although the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) confirmed any changes would be subject to full public consultation.
Here are the main elements expected to be in or out for the new driving test in Brentwood – and what the experts say…
OUT – Turn in the road (formerly known as three-point turn): This is where learners are asked to stop the car and turn around in the road. All that practice in streets like Costead Manor Road and Kimpton Avenue in Brentwood,may no longer be required.The DVSA says that this manoeuvre could be scrapped in favour of more testing skills more likely to be used in everyday situations.
What the experts say: AA President Edmund King has voiced surprise at the mooted exclusion of the turn in road, saying: “In our view a three-point turn is still an important manoeuvre for getting out of cul de sacs, dead ends and often car parks”.
OUT – Reversing around corners: Feared by many learners practicing using Spital Lane into River Road, Brentwood, reversing around a corner without mounting the kerb could soon be kicked out of the driving test. However, it’s likely be replaced by more relevant tests such as reversing out of a parking bay.Parallel parking would remain in the test.
What the experts say: Once again, the AA’s Edmund King is not convinced how future-proofed such a change would be. He said: “Eventually, self-parking cars will do away with parallel parking and, who knows, the driverless car might just do away with the test.”
IN – Test students’ ability to use a sat-nav: As part of plans to increase the relatively new ‘independent driving’ element of the driving test from 10- to 20-minutes, candidates could be asked to demonstrate their ability to navigate to a predetermined location by using a sat-nav device.Say from outside the Test centre on Warley Hill to the Brentwood Centre on Doddinghurst Road.
What the experts say: Stephen Glaister, the director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “We all rely on our sat-navs, but they are not infallible and it is when they have led us down a dead end that we need to know how to do a three-point turn.
“It’s fine to add some aspects to the test but we should be cautious about removing the basics.”
IN – Safety on the go: Learner drivers taking their test at the Brentwood Test Centre on Warley Hill, are currently asked two safety questions – in the form of ‘show me tell me’ questions – before they start, but new proposals suggest candidates could instead be asked these questions while on the move. Drivers for example may be asked to operate the rear windscreen heater whilst driving.
What the experts say: Carly Brookfield, Driving Instructors Association (DIA) chief executive, said: “DIA has been heavily involved in the scoping of this project and is enthusiastic about the opportunity it presents to evolve the L-test to a level where it more realistically assesses a candidate’s ability to competently and safely manage road based risks, driving in real life, on real roads.