In Depth

Driving test changes 2017: what’s in the new practical exam?

Satnav challenge and more manoeuvres are included

A new driving test comes into effect today in a bid to bring the format up to date by including modern driving styles and technology. 

The shake-up was launched after research by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) found that 52% of drivers now have a satnav. It also found that road accidents account for “over a quarter” of all deaths for people aged between 15 and 19. 

The changes are therefore aimed at teaching learner drivers to cope with handling distractions such as satnavs, along with everyday challenges such as using in-car technology. 

Here are the four major changes to the updated practical exam. 

Manoeuvre tweaks

Candidates will be asked to perform one of three manoeuvres during their test: parallel parking; entering a parking bay; or pulling over at the side of the road, reversing two car lengths and then rejoining traffic.  

However, the “reverse around a corner” and “turn-in-the-road” manoeuvres will no longer feature, says the DVSA, although the agency advises that instructors should still include these in driving lessons. 

Satnav challenges

Examiners will provide candidates with a satnav - which will be a TomTom Start 52 - and ask them to follow a predetermined route. Candidates won’t need to set up the device, but will not be allowed to use their own satnav in the test. 

Asking examiners questions about the satnav route during the test is permitted, and you “won’t be penalised for going to wrong way”, says Auto Express, “unless you make a fault when doing so”. 

Longer independent driving sections

The revamped driving test increases the independent driving section from ten to 20 minutes - so it will take up about half of the total duration of the exam. 

Candidates will be told to follow the road signs to a specific destination, says Autocar, without being asked to perform a manoeuvre or respond to safety questions. 

Expanded distraction test

Finally, candidates will have to answer two safety questions - one before the driving section of the test begins and the other while on the road. These are known as “show me, tell me” questions. 

Examiners will ask candidates to tell them how drivers should check a certain safety feature on the car before driving it. Candidates also have to show the examiner how a safety feature works while driving, such as activating the windscreen wipers.

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