It’s been just over a year since the driving test underwent some seismic changes, introducing a raft of new and altered elements to help make learners better, safer drivers once they qualify.
These included increasing the independent driving part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes and the majority of candidates being asked to follow directions from a sat nav during the test. The three possible reversing manoeuvres were also changed plus candidates are now asked a ‘show me’ question by the examiner during the test instead of at the start.
After conducting two surveys, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revealed the changes have left pupils feeling more confident about their ability behind the wheel once they have qualified. For instance, six months after passing the new-style test, 81% of drivers felt it had prepared them for driving on our roads.
Digging deeper into the research reveals that new-test drivers spent more time practising on country roads (44.2% did at least 4 hours) compared to those who took the old-style test (37.1%). Drivers who took the new-style test also spent more time practising on high-speed dual carriageways (50.1% did at least four hours) compared to those who took the old-style test (46.6%).
Sat nav sorted
The introduction of the sat nav has understandably seen a large increase in its use during driving lessons themselves. Before the changes to the test, only 1.6% spent four hours or more using a sat nav during lessons. After the changes, 23.8% used a sat nav during lessons.
The DVSA’s research also shows that 86.3% of new drivers use a sat nav at least some of the time with 86.3% saying they were confident that they could drive safely while following directions from a sat nav.
A bright future?
The results are very positive with 90% of new motorists stating they are confident they are a safe driver after six months of driving independently while 79.1% are confident they are a good driver. Overall, the new style test has been praised by new motorists because:
+ the test and their learning for the test were reflective of real-life driving
+ there was a good range of road types included in the test and their learning
+ they feel comfortable and confident driving on their own.
But new drivers believe there is still some room for improvement:
– motorway driving lessons would have helped them to feel much more prepared for driving on them
– while the test prepared them well, new drivers have struggled with the different way experienced drivers now treat them as they no longer have L plates or an accompanying ADI
– the bulk of their learning to drive was done after the test – with some complaining that they felt they were being trained to simply pass the test
– they believe the learning process and test cannot entirely prepare them for driving on their own.