Learner drivers will have to operate a satellite navigation system during their driving test as part of changes to the test aimed at helping save lives and improve road safety.
From December 4, drivers will need to pass a modern test that will include new manoeuvres and a longer independent driving section to make sure they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to drive on their own.
The changes will also include a section where drivers use satellite navigation.
Andrew Jones, transport minister, said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to make them safer.
“These changes will help reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skills they need to use our roads safely.
“Ensuring the driving test is relevant in the 21st century – for example, the introduction of sat-navs, will go a long way towards doing this.”
The four changes are:
- An increase of the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes
- Asking candidates to follow directions on a sat nav as an alternative to following road signs
- Replacing current manoeuvres such as ‘reverse around a corner’ with more real life scenarios, such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay
- Asking one of the two vehicle safety questions while the candidate is driving, for example, asking candidates to use the rear heated screen
Representatives from the driver training industry are supportive of the changes.
This includes driving instructor associations, the RAC, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), AA and the driving training National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP).
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “We are very supportive of the revisions DVSA is making to the practical driving test, which will mean candidates undergo a far more realistic assessment of their readiness to take to the road unsupervised.
“Much has changed since the first driving test was taken in 1935, and it must be right that the test evolves, just as the cars we drive are themselves changing to incorporate ever more driver assist technology such as inbuilt sat-nav systems.
"Novice drivers need to demonstrate the right skills and driving style to cope with the new environment.
“Clearly driving examiners and instructors both need time to adjust to the new test, in particular to ensure that candidates are well-prepared, nevertheless it is good to know that the new test will be running by the end of this calendar year.”
DVSA and the Transport Research Laboratory also trialled the changes with over 4,300 learner drivers and over 860 driving instructors. Feedback from the trial was also positive.