BIG changes to the driving test are coming in 2017-Don’t panic, it’s a good thing

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The government are introducing a new driving test with updated manoeuvres as well as 20 minutes of independent driving (using a satnav) with the aim of making the test more closely resemble ‘real life’ driving.

miDrive CEO, Scott Taylor, said: “We’re very pleased about the proposed changes to the practical driving test. We have had positive feedback from our instructors and their students who were involved in the trial. It’s great to see the driving test finally moving with the times. These changes will test drivers in a more realistic manner which is essential to improving their safety once their L plates are removed.”


Why the changes?

Road collisions are the biggest killer of young people. They account for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19. The government wants to make changes to the learning-to-drive journey that will better prepare drivers and hopefully reduce the number of young people being killed in collisions.


What are the changes to the driving test?

Current driving test New driving test (2017)
‘Show me’ and ‘tell me’ question at the beginning of the test ‘Tell me’ question at the beginning of the test and a ‘show me’ question on the move
10 minutes independent driving using traffic signs or verbal directions 20 minutes of independent driving using satnav or traffic signs
One of the following manoeuvres – turn in the road, reverse around a corner or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road) One of the following manoeuvres – drive into and reverse out of a parking bay, pull up on the right, reverse and rejoin the traffic or reverse parking (either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road)


‘Tell me’ question at the beginning of the test and a ‘show me’ question on the move

The DVSA are going to ask a ‘show me’ safety question while you’re driving. This is no different to what you need to do if the car steamed up or you needed to switch on the lights while you’re driving. The driving examiner will ask you to use a control when they think it’s safe to do so. You then need to do this when you think it’s safe.

A ‘show me’ safety question will be asked on every test.

A ‘tell me’ safety question will still be asked at the start of the test before you move off.


20 minutes independent driving using a satnav or traffic signs

The DVSA are going to use satnavs in the independent driving section of the test, and increase the length from about 10 minutes to about 20 minutes.

Slow speed manoeuvres generally don’t lead to serious road traffic collisions. By removing manoeuvres that need backstreets, the DVSA can design test routes that are more open and take in faster and rural driving.

Using a satnav also goes some way to addressing concerns that inexperienced drivers are easily distracted, which is one of the main causes of crashes.

The DVSA, albeit quite slowly, are moving with technology and the technology that new drivers will be using.

Video by DVSA


Changes in manoeuvres asked during the test

The DVSA have modified the way in which they deliver manoeuvres assessed during the test. The intention is for them to be undertaken during the natural course of the drive, in a less staged way than has traditionally been the case. For example, the reverse around a corner and turn in the road manoeuvres are traditional exercises that are generally performed on quiet roads and as such are less challenging than could potentially be the case. By adjusting the way in which the manoeuvres are delivered, it offers a better opportunity to demonstrate vehicle handling skills and interactions with other road users in a more active driving environment.

Pull up on the right in the new driving test

The examiner will ask you to pull up on the opposite side of the road, and then reverse for a couple of car lengths. The exercise is perfectly legal. It’s challenging and is the kind of manoeuvre you will do at some point after passing your driving test.

The examiner will use roads that represent real-life driving conditions.

This manoeuvre is done more commonly than turn-in-road and left-reverse in real life. It tests the skills that people will need, particularly for those who go on to be professional drivers, eg delivery drivers.

Video by DVSA


Forward parking in a bay in the new driving test

The examiner will ask you to drive forward into a parking bay, and then reverse back out of it.

They’ll use public car parks to do this, e.g. hotels, pubs and other types of locations.

The skills you need to drive forward into a parking bay are the same as those for any slow speed manoeuvre – control, accuracy and effective observations.

Video by DVSA


Industry comments

Alastair Peoples
Non-Executive Director miDrive
(former CEO of DVSA)

“I am delighted to see DVSA consult on the outcome of the recent trials to the changes on the practical driving test. These changes include the use of sat nav to allow much more independent driving, incorporating a number of show me/ tell me actions on the move and changes to manoeuvres are quite radical. When I first suggested some of these changes to colleagues a couple of years ago now I think they believed i was deluded! But to their credit a pilot was put together and trials for by some of our staff instructors at Cardington. They were really positive as where those leading the ADI industry whom we fully involved from the start. It is great to see their positive endorsement of the trial outcomes. The driving test can determine the training provided. The new test is less formulaic which means ADI’S may need to change their methods. Candidates on test will need to better assess traffic risks and respond accordingly ( and possibly on unfamiliar roads).

I know former colleagues in DVSA are as passionate as I am about making a positive contribution to road safety as I am and are to be congratulated for the work they have done with examiners and the industry to get to this point; that includes many hundreds of ADI’s who took part in the extensive trial long.
These changes are unlikely to be the last. I introduced changes to the ADI grading system , you are also likely to see the introduction of earned recognition for quality control, the promotion of continuing professional development for ADI’s potentially even a different recognition for the very best!”


Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Whether it is vehicle emission standards or driving tests, the closer they reflect what happens in the real world the better. From technology to traffic volume to the type of cars on the road, motorists are living in a rapidly changing environment and the learning process needs to reflect that.


Paul Caddick, Editor, Intelligent Instructor:

“This is a long-awaited drive forward for the driving test. It means candidates will have to sow a greater sense of real life driving skills, including multi-tasking and thinking for themselves while driving. Of course, this requires them to have the basic grounding in practical driving skills, theoretical knowledge, whilst implementing them safely and responsibly.

“What’s more, it will encourage the whole driver training process to push forward a real understanding of driving, in all conditions, and reduce the chance of candidates being taught just to pass the test.

“Hopefully, this is just the start of a new era of driver training and testing, improving everyone’s safety on the road.”


John Lepine MBE General Manager of The Motor Schools Association of Great Britain (MDA GB) said:
“We have been pleased to be involved with this initiative from the beginning. Great Britain’s driver trainers are very excited by the opportunity to teach more real-life driving to new drivers. Incorporating these changes into the test will mean that learners will be better prepared for the distractions that modern driving conditions produce.   Many of our members have been involved in the trials of the revised test and have said their pupils have really enjoyed the changed syllabus.”

Last modified: 18th July 2016

One Response to :
BIG changes to the driving test are coming in 2017-Don’t panic, it’s a good thing

  1. Stuart Bell says:

    Great article – thanks so much

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