What’s changing with the new driving test this year?

On the 4th December 2017 the current driving test will be changing. This will effect you if you are currently learning to drive and have a driving test booked for after this date. It will also mean that pupils who don’t pass their test before this date will have to take the new format test.
But don’t worry we are here to help you. Our instructors are aware of these changes and will be able to help you so that you are properly prepared for your driving test.

Car Driving

Why are the DVSA changing the practical test?

The DVSA say that these changes are designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.
Driving Instructors are broadly in favour of the changes being made to the test, however there are some aspects that do not respect the rules of the Highway Code such as parking on the right hand side of the road. We believe that the new test may actually increase the pass rate for pupils taking their test, however it remains to be seen whether or not this will have a positive impact on road safety.

What are the changes that will be made to the practical test?

  • Independent Driving will increase from 10 to 20 minutes

    This is around half of the length of the driving test.

  • Follow directions from a SAT NAV during the independent driving part of the test

    Currently this is conducted by either following roadsigns or a series of directions that the examiner gives to you at the side of the road. During the new test, this will mainly be conducted using a SAT NAV which the examiner will provide and which will have an independent power source. 1 in 5  tests will still use road signs.

  • Reversing manoeuvres will change

    Pupils are currently asked to do 1 reversing manoeuvre during the test, this will remain unchanged. However the following manoeuvres will no longer be tested for:

    • Reversing around a corner (Left Reverse)
    • Turn in the Road (3 or 5 point turn)
    • However these will still be part of the syllabus for pupils learning to drive.

    The following manouevres will be tested;

    • Parallel park at the side of the road
    • Parking in a bay (either reversing in or driving into a bay and reversing out)
    • Pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing back and pulling away

    The examiner will ask you to perform one of the above manouevres during your test.

  • Show Me/ Tell Me Questions: Show Me question asked while driving

    The examiner will ask one of the questions from the current list of ‘Show Me’ questions while you are driving. This could be demonstraing how to use the screenwash and wipers, or turning on your demisters or lights.


Will the pass mark or the way in which the test is examined change?

No. The pass mark and the way in which the test is examined will remain unchanged.

You can make up to 15 minor driving faults in your test, however you may not repeat the same mistake more than a few times.

If you commit a serious or dangerous fault, your test will normally continue, however you will fail the test.

A serious fault is a fault that may cause another road user to take an avoiding action, or it may be not demonstrating the correct procedure or following a particular rule of the Highway Code.

A dangerous fault is where the examiner may have to intervene by taking control of the steering or braking to avoid a collision.

The test will still last around 40 minutes and take in surrounding roads and traffic conditions. You will not be asked to drive on the motorway although some further changes may be taking place in 2018 as recently announced by the Transport Secretary.

How will my training and driving lessons be affected?

Your instructor will still train you in the manoeuvres, however greater focus may be given to pulling forward and reversing out of a parking bay as this would not previously have been tested for.

You should also practice pulling up at a suitable place on the right hand side of the road. Your instructor  will guide you as to a suitable place to do this.

You would not be expected to do this on a main road or busy high street for example. You will need to move close up to a parked vehicle and then reverse back for a couple of car lengths, while making appropriate observations around the car. You should then pull away making appropriate observations.

In the event that another vehicle prevents you from reversing your instructor or examiner will assist you in moving away.

You will also be taught how to use and follow a SAT NAV system. It wont matter which one your instructor uses as you will not be expected to operate the one that the examiner brings with them on the test (This will be a TomTom 52).

Your instructor should still teach you how to follow directional road signs without using the SAT NAV as this requires a different set of skills and more planning.

Lastly your instructor should practice asking you some of the “Show Me” questions while you are driving. You should not worry about this and if you are unfamiliar with which control to use, you should pull up at a safe place with your instructor and discuss this, then repeat the exercise. Examples of questions that may be asked, include switching your headlights and tailights on and off, operating your front and rear demisters, or using your wipers and screen wash.

Why we think the pass rate may increase (slightly!)

Although the test is being marked in exactly the same way, the use of the SAT NAV system will replace  the way in which the current test is conducted. i.e. following directional road signs. We feel that SAT NAV systems will actually provide more information to the pupil in planning for lane changes because of the instructions given.

For example, in the current driving test, the examiner might say “At the roundabout junction ahead I’d like you to follow the signs for Manchester”. This requires the candidate to recognise the sign and read the information correctly, and then to decide whether or not they need to change lanes before the roundabout.

With the SAT NAV system a pre programmed route will mean that the pupil will no longer have to rely on reading the sign. The SAT NAV will inform the pupil that they will be taking the 3rd exit from the roundabout and that they should move over to the next lane in good time.

Although the candidate is till being asked to follow the same route there is less anxiety caused by following a SAT NAV, and therfore we feel that this is less likely to mean that the pupil makes a serious  or dangerous fault in the test.

In many cases pupils fail their driving test by committing just 1 or 2 serious driving faults, so if there is a reduced incidence of serious faults being committed then inevitably the pass rate will increase.

So this may be welcome news to pupils, however this should not mean that pupils attempt to take to take the test any sooner, although inevitably this is likely to happen.

A final word on road safety

New drivers are at the greatest risk of having an accident after their driving test with 1 in 5 new drivers having an accident within 6 months of passing. We believe that it is essential that instructors continue to teach pupils to deal with stressful situations and how to cope with going in the wrong direction. The heightened anxiety is very likely to be a factor in new drivers having an accident as a result.

Instructors are there not only to simply train pupils to pass the driving test but to improve road safety overall. The DVSA have a motto of “Safe Driving for Life”. Although learning to drive is not cheap it should be recognised that this is a skill that will serve pupils throughout their lives and therefore having extra lessons will inevitably reduce the risks.

If you have not already considered it, we offer Pass Plus courses which help you develop your middle and long distance driving skills. You will not have been on a motorway before your test and should always do this the first time in the company of an instructor or suitably qualified and experienced driver. The course also covers others aspects of driving that you may have no or very limited experience in dealing with such as night driving, country roads, high speed dual carriageways, city driving, and dealing with bad weather conditions.

Link to DVSA press release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-test-changes-4-december-2017