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As of the 4th December 2017 the way in which learner drivers are examined when taking a practical driving test will be changing. This applies to England, Scotland and Wales. These changes come about with the aim of The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), to reduce road traffic incidents and to keep the test up to date with evolving vehicle technology and the changing environment.

Novice drivers will be expected to demonstrate that they are able to drive carefully and independently, whilst showing they have the skills required to use the roads and modernised driving styles safely.

What is the driving test?

When learning to drive you are expected to pass two parts in order to successfully pass and become a qualified, independent driver - a theory test and a practical test.
Passing the practical driving test is the final obstacle to overcome and essential if you want to get on the roads! The DVSA requires novice drivers to demonstrate that they can drive in a confident and safe manner in a variety of road and traffic conditions, in addition to displaying sufficient knowledge of The Highway Code.

What is changing about the practical test in 2017?

There will be four main changes and these will only be applied to those taking their practical test in a car, other vehicles are exempt for the foreseeable future. The changes aren't as drastic as you may think, but however, they are designed to challenge and result in drivers having the skills to deal with the more modern driving environment and vehicle technology advances.

  1. Independent driving will increase to 20 minutes
    - Currently you are required to drive independently for 10 minutes. In the new tests this will be extended to 20 minutes driving without direct instructions from the examiner.

  2. Following instructions from a Sat Nav
    - As part of the 20 minute independent driving, you will may require to follow the instructions from a sat nav which is provided and programmed by the person examining you. You will not be examined on whether you follow it incorrectly, but will be examined on how you perform whilst following it.

  3. Reversing manoeuvres changing
    - Say goodbye to 'reverse around a corner' and 'turn-in-the-road'. Perhaps the easier ones we'd like to be tested on! You will be now have to demonstrate either; parallel park, bay park or pull up and reverse for 3 car lengths to re-join traffic.

  4. Answer a 'show me, tell me' question whilst driving 
    - You will be required to correctly answer two questions related to vehicle safety over the duration of the test.

Why is it changing?

For the majority of qualified drivers you may be questioning the changes, thinking it's already substantially harder than when it was first introduced in 1932 and honestly, how many of us qualified drivers think we could pass the test today?

According to the DVSA these changes are vital. This has come into force as a result of concerns that casualties and fatal incidents caused by drivers are increasing and that the current practical test is not designed to equip new drivers with some of the practical skills required to drive safely in the modern day.

The DVSA hopes that the new driving test will be more suitable and sees that the changes will ensure new drivers have the necessary skills and experience to encourage them to drive safely through their lifetime on the roads.

What is staying the same?

You'll be pleased to know that the length, cost and the pass mark won't be changing!

- You'll successfully pass the test by making no more than 15 minor driving faults, no serious or dangerous faults.
- The driving test will remain at 40 minutes of driving time
- The cost will say the same, £60

So now you know the changes, what is next? Prepare, prepare, prepare! You can find more information about learning to drive by checking out our dedicated learner blogs or by visitng the Learning Zone on the DVSA website.

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