A driving instructor has welcomed changes to standard driving tests which are designed to prepare learners for a "lifetime of safe driving."
Students will now be required to follow their sat-nav while they take their test which will now consist of 20 minutes of independent driving, as opposed to the current 10 minutes.
However, fears have been raised over changes to scrap the reverse-around-a-corner and turn-in-the-road manoeuvres although the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency advise it can still be taught.
Former Burton driving instructor Steve Hunt, 60, who now works in Devon, said: "I think the changes are great. The only thing I would say is they have dropped reverse-round-a-corner and turn-in-the-road. While most driving instructors will teach it anyway there could be some unscrupulous instructors who may try and get away with not teaching it."
While both manoeuvres will no longer be tested, students will be tested on parking up on the right side of the road as well as reversing in and out of parking bays.
Steve said: "If you look at Burton as a town the parking is laid out where you sometimes have to park your car up on both sides of the street.
"It is a very necessary one. I always tell my students that if you are going shopping you reverse into the space because you don’t want to try and put your shopping in your boot in the other way."
Students may also be required to follow directions on a sat-nav set by the instructor to adapt the test to modern driving conditions.
Steve said: "Some already use a sat-nav in their lessons anyway. I always use it in my PassPlus but of course some students don't do that. It is everyday driving.
"It teaches them not to blindly follow the sat-nav and not to panic if they go wrong because the sat-nav will correct itself. My students are quite blasé about the changes because they do these things anyway so it is nothing new."
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will introduce the changes for anyone taking their test from December 4.
A driving student, who will be affected by the new changes when she takes her test after December 4, told the Burton Mail: "I don't think they should have taken out turn-in-the-road because it is an important manoeuvre.
"But it is useful that we are learning how to use a sat-nav because in my job I may have to go to places that I am not familiar with so it is a useful tool.
"Taking 20 minutes of independent driving doesn't bother me because we will be driving independently anyway soon."
The changes are listed below
So what are the four main changes to the driving test?
1) Independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes
The independent driving part of the test currently lasts around 10 minutes. During this part of the test, you have to drive without turn-by-turn directions from the driving examiner.
This part of the test will be made longer, so it’ll last around 20 minutes - roughly half of the test.
2) Following directions from a sat-nav
During the independent driving part of the test, most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a satellite navigation device.
The examiner will provide the sat-nav (a TomTom Start 52) and set it up. You won’t need to set the route - the examiner will do this for you. So, it doesn’t matter what make or model of sat nav you practise with.
You can’t follow directions from your own sat-nav during the test - you have to use the one supplied by the examiner.
You’ll be able to ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if you’re not sure. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way unless you make a fault while doing it.
One in five driving tests won’t use a sat-nav. You’ll need to follow traffic signs instead.
3) Reversing manoeuvres will be changed
The "reverse-around-a-corner" and "turn-in-the-road" manoeuvres will no longer be tested - but the DVSA says you should still be taught them by your instructor.
You’ll be asked to do one of three possible reversing manoeuvres:
- Parallel park at the side of the road;
- Park in a bay - either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do);
- Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and rejoin the traffic.
4) Answering a vehicle safety question while you’re driving
The examiner will ask you two vehicle safety questions during your driving test - these are known as the "show me, tell me" questions.
You’ll be asked the:
- "tell me" question (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving;
- "show me! question (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) while you’re driving - for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers
Who does these changes affect?
All driving tests taken from December 4, 2017, will follow the new format. This includes if:
- you fail a test before then - and retake your test from December 4, 2017;
- your test is cancelled or moved for any reason - and your new test date is from December 4, 2017
So, what's not changing about the test?
The pass mark is staying the same. So, you’ll pass your test if you make no more than 15 driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults.
The examiner will still mark the test in the same way - and the same things will still count as faults.
The overall time of the driving test won’t change. It will still take around 40 minutes.
The driving test cost will also stay the same.