New Driving Test 4th December 2017


It will change on the 4th December 2017

Following the announcement of the driving test changes many people will be worried about how the changes will affect them and others wondering if they can pass their test before the changes are implemented.

Don’t Worry

The first thing to say is that there is no need to fear the new test. I was fortunate to be part of the trial of the new test and I can say with certainty all of my clients prefer the elements of the new practical test.

SatNav – The Main Change?

The change to attract most attention is the use of the SatNav. It’s a direct replacement for the current 10 minute period of independent driving in which the candidate is required to memorise a route or follow road signs. Everyone prefers the SatNav because it is easier, you have a screen offering confirmation, and instructions are usually repeated.

Ancillary Controls

Another change receiving attention is the requirement to operate an ancillary control whilst on the move. This might be wash wiping a front or rear windscreen, demisting a window or adjusting heater controls. This is not really a change because in the current test the examiner would expect you to use these controls effectively if required and if you can’t do it, or you lose control, you will fail.


Reversing is getting easier

The Reverse Left and the Three Point Turn are dropped. From 4th December you could be asked to drive into a parking bay, forwards or backwards. Or you could be asked to complete a parallel parking exercise. The third option is that you might be asked to stop on the right hand side of the road and then asked to reverse back in a straight line parallel to the kerb for a distance of about two car lengths. When that has been completed you will be instructed to move off again. Thats it, nothing much to to worry about. Or is there?

What the DVSA has NOT told us

To some extent the talk of SatNav’s and reversing has acted as a smokescreen hiding real threats faced by some test candidates.

The DVSA has said that the test is changing because:

“…most fatal collisions happen on high-speed roads (not including motorways) – changing the format of the test will allow more of these types of roads to be included in driving test routes.”

During the trial period the distances travelled on the SatNav tests were sometimes double that of the current test and the routes contained a much higher proportion of fast roads.

It is my opinion that this increase in distance, whilst not explicitly mentioned by the DVSA, is the most significant change of all and it could easily prove to be the most challenging part for candidates who find it difficult to read the road, assess appropriate speeds, and overtake when necessary. The extra mileage in these extended test routes will result in an increased requirement to overtake and the new test routes will naturally be more difficult for test candidates with little experience on fast ‘A’ roads.

The practical driving test is not getting more difficult and the drive will be assessed in exactly the same way as before. No doubt this will be the defence if the DVSA is accused of failing to give adequate publicity for this significant change in the test. The fact remains that candidates will have a greater exposure to roads where it is very easy to make speed related mistakes.

Will you be prepared for this new test?

During the trial period for the new test, I was astounded to hear instructors complaining that they had not received training on how to teach people to stop on the right hand side of the road. If the professionals can’t see though the smokescreen it seems unlikely they will understand the true nature of the challenges ahead for their clients.

I hope I’m wrong.