New Driving Test With Sat Navs Arrives This December

by Adam Phillips - 3 Min Read

Big changes are afoot for learner drivers at the end of 2017 – so here’s what to expect.

After months of speculation, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has finally confirmed that changes to the driving test will be rolled out on Monday 4th December, 2017. The new-style test will affect all tests in England, Scotland and Wales and at this stage, will only apply to the car driving test.

What’s Changing in the Driving Test in 2017

There are four big changes coming down the road:

1. Independent Driving
Currently, the independent driving section of the test lasts 10 minutes; this will be extended to 20 minutes from December and make up around half of the test. You will be expected to drive without turn-by-turn directions from the examiner as well. The intention? To put the examiner in the best possible position to judge your driving ability more accurately in real-world conditions.

2. Sat Nav
During the independent driving section, instead of the examiner telling you where to go, you will  be required to follow the directions on a sat nav instead – this is to make the test more ‘modern’. In practise, the examiner will provide and set up the sat nav’s route for you so all you’ll need to focus on is following the route, not worrying about the technology itself.

Bear in mind that you can’t use your own sat nav and that if you do happen to take a wrong turn, you won’t be penalised unless you make a fault. Finally, you may be the 1-in-5 of learners who won’t be selected to use a sat nav during the test – instead, you will need to follow traffic signs instead.

3. Reversing Manoeuvres
Say goodbye to the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres! While the DVSA will no longer be testing the two manoeuvres, it still expects your ADI to teach them to you during your lessons. Replacing them are one of three possible reversing manoeuvres:

• Parallel parking at the side of the road

• Parking in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out

• Pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two-car lengths and rejoining the traffic.

4. Answering Two Vehicle Safety Questions
Expect to be asked two safety questions:

Before Test Starts
One ‘Tell Me’ question focusing on how you would carry out a particular safety task

During The Test
One ‘Show Me’ question focusing on how you would carry out a particular safety task.

What’s NOT Changing in the Driving Test in 2017

The pass mark remains at no more than 15 driving faults and with no serious or dangerous faults whatsoever. The examiner will still be marking you on the same things as before plus the driving test’s running length will remain the same – around 40 minutes. Finally, the cost of the test won’t be changing either.

Why Changes Are Being Made to the Driving Test in 2017

Despite the UK being one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to driving, the DVSA wants to reduce accident figures even further – and the public agrees according to the consultation the agency carried out while coming up with the new test structure:

of the public agreed with increasing the length of the independent driving part of the test

agreed with asking candidates to follow directions from a sat nav

agreed with the plans to change how the reversing manoeuvres are test

agreed with asking the ‘show me’ question while the candidate is driving.

At Theory Test Pro, we believe anything that can help young drivers get the best and safest possible start to their driving careers is essential – but what do you think? Are you happy with the new changes or would you prefer for the test to remain the same?

Whatever the Future Holds...

… use Theory Test Pro to double your chances of theory test success. Sign up here for free.


Image © Paul Inkles


  1. Brian Chandler

    I feel that the whole testing system is flawed and this minor tinkering is going to do nothing to improve driving standards. Driver safety cannot be measured by someone’s ability to follow a sat nav. How is this any different to an examiner giving directions? In actual fact it will make it easier for the candidate, because the sat nav will guide them which lane to be in rather than them having to work it out.

    I would love to know why the DVSA consulted members of the ‘public’ and not the 40,000 trained professionals that could have given a valid opinion or could it be that we are just considered members of the public, rather that partners in a shared goal? I belong to our local instructor’s association and several forums and have not come across many instructors that feel the changes are appropriate.

    I’m not saying that things should stay the same, in fact I think we should be making it more stringent.How about reintroducing questions from the Highway Code at the end of the test, so that pupils actually take time to read it? How about doing Manouvres in a separate CBT type test, so that when the main practical is taken, it isn’t failed on touching a kerb or not getting totally straight on a PP? How about a graduated licence with compulsory Pass Plus?

    Basing the introduction of a new exercise such as pulling away from the wrong side of the road or the laziness of the general public and the possibility that candidates may go on to be courier drivers is just laughable. I feel that for the third time in the 10 years that I’ve been in this profession, a valuable opportunity to make real valid changes has been missed.

    • Alan

      I totally agree, as an ADI we have to teach good driving practices and to train them to make their own decisions about correct lane choice and not allow them to do exactly what a sat navy tells them and as professionals, we would never encourage them to drive on the wrong side of the road apposing other traffic particularly in winter months or night time lessons where headlamps facing oncoming traffic is hazardous!

      And as for the sat nav drive, good luck with that. We live in a semi rural area that has had most of the towns roads closed for nine months to create a cycling-friendly town, the signs from the Highways department clearly states “ignore sat nav” so how will that work when other towns etc have similar works going on, not to mention how Sat navs sometimes run slow and give an instruction too late.

      What does the average member of the public know about the reality of teaching a learner driver!

      It is beyond belief that we are expected to have skills and knowledge much greater than the average driver yet when it comes to consultation, our opinions isn’t valued.

  2. Judith

    I think with the road signs being of such poor quality, the inconsistency of road markings etc for a competent driver who is new to an area, this is challenging. For someone who is on a test near impossible. I see a positive in driving for longer unsupervised. With more realistic exercises such as parking and pulling out on the opposite side of the road. Poor examiners is my thought.

    How can driving with a sat nav be a bad thing on test.? Most cars are fitted with them now. I think it is all good. Yes of course it could’ve been better. We could introduce motorways into the tests. We could do driving onto ferries. But the test has time limitations and it is about assessing the driver in a series of real life situations. The reality is you do not have some telling you where to go all the time as a qualified driver.

  3. Paul Ryan

    I fully agree with omitting the reverse left around a corner from the test as this is very archaic in regards to current driving ability needs. I am unsure about leaving TIR out as I feel this is a very important skill to keep, compared to the pull up on the right and reverse back a couple of car lengths? What skill is that in aid of considering the Highway code does not recommend this manoeuvre in general driving. I would still teach the TIR in my driving lessons in South Shields to help with tight area clutch control. We will see what the Sat Nav part of the test will bring when it arrives in December. I as a driving instructor will be keen to see the statistics after the inclusion if it improves the overall standard of driver we produce.

  4. Pete Cowan

    Highway code rule 239… If you have to stop on the roadside, do not park facing against the traffic flow.

    Advice not law, but should we be encouraging it? And forwards parking… what message does this give out?

    • Paul Ryan

      As far as I am aware Sat Nav will be the same as any Sat Nav you are using so verbal commands will be used on them as per usual. It is just using a Sat Nav as anybody would use. The examiner will have pre-set routes planned into the Sat Nav and just press go when they are at the location to start the route.

Comments are closed.

Interested? Get started completely free.

Try it Now