The revised manoeuvres featured in the new driving test have been heavily criticised by instructors for being ‘dangerous’, perhaps forcing the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to explain why it believes the changes are necessary.
As has been well publicised now, the new test touches down in December and followers of the Theory Test Pro blog will know that serious concerns have been raised by instructors about the new manoeuvres. In particular, one planned manoeuvre will require pupils to pull over to the right to park before reversing back two spaces. This is seen as dangerous by some ADIs because it encourages drivers to potentially cross over into the path of oncoming traffic.
The DVSA though has set out its main reason for introducing such a manoeuvre – to better reflect real-life driving scenarios. While the agency admits the Highway Code discourages motorists from parking against the flow of traffic, it states that the manoeuvre is actually legal and often used by people when parking up to go into a shop or post a letter.
New Manoeuvres – Putting Safety First?
“It’s important learner drivers are trained to do it safely,” states the DVSA’s Neil Wilson in his blog to ADIs, putting the onus on the instructor to teach the manoeuvre properly. “All your pupils will need to be prepared to pull up on the right when safe to do so, and then reverse.”
He also clarifies the reversing element of the manoeuvre: “If a vehicle pulls in front then the exercise will continue. If a vehicle pulls in behind and stops your pupil from reversing, then the exercise will stop and another manoeuvre will be carried out later in the test.”
The other new manoeuvre – forward parking in a bay – has also been criticised because ADIs prefer to teach learners to reverse into a bay so they are able to pull out more safely. Again the DVSA says that in a real-life scenario, drivers often find it more convenient to drive forward into a parking bay so they can, say, load shopping easily after visiting a supermarket.
Again, the DVSA underlines that it is up to instructors to ensure that the manoeuvre is taught correctly and also to be considerate: “We understand you’ll need to use a car park to let your pupils practice this manoeuvre,” states Neil Wilson. “We know you’ll be considerate of the car park owners and their customers by varying the car parks you use and moving on promptly.”
Most fatal collisions happen on high-speed or rural roads, so we want to make sure that everyone can use these roads safely. Revising the manoeuvres will allow more of these high-risk roads to be included in driving test routes, as they won’t all need to be carried out on quieter side streets.”
– Neil Wilson of the DVSA
Further Sat Nav Details Revealed
A less controversial addition to the new test has been the sat nav whose instructions students will need to follow in the independent driving section of the test. The DVSA has revealed that the sat nav – a TomTom Start 52 – will be secured to the car’s dashboard via a special ‘dash mat’ and that during the test, the learner won’t be required to touch it.
When the independent driving section of the test begins, the examiner will instead trigger the pre-loaded section of the route for the pupil to follow onscreen. Vocal directions will be issued by the sat nav unit but students can ask for the volume to be muted.
The DVSA points out that sat navs are also being introduced to aid in the assessment of deaf drivers as well. Working closely with the British Deaf Association, the sat nav was ultimately judged to be highly beneficial to deaf learners, says the DVSA, making it easier for directions to be communicated to them via a visual aid.
Using a sat nav on the test will also help to introduce better routes and different types of roads. Currently, we carry out the independent drive on quieter side streets where there are more traffic signs for your pupil to follow. Using a sat nav means we’ll be able to conduct more of the test in more challenging driving environments such as on rural roads where there are fewer traffic signs.”
– Neil Wilson of the DVSA