Driving tests: What is changing?

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Rags Martel

Learner drivers will have to master the use of sat navs and face a sterner examination of their parking skills if they are to pass their driving test.

The length of independent driving will also be doubled to 20 minutes from December 4 as part of the major overhaul of the assessment by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Reversing around a corner will be scrapped under the changes, which have been hailed as the biggest shake up in 20 years and ones which the transport minister says will help save lives.

Around half of all car drivers own a sat nav and 70% of respondents to a public consultation supported the DVSA's desire for drivers to be trained to use them safely.

The DVSA said by the tests will focus less on slow speed manoeuvres in quiet roads and more on safe handling of the car in busier areas, where new drivers have the most crashes.

Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people, accounting for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19.

Motoring experts said the changes are the most significant since the written theory exam was introduced in 1996. Credit: PA

"It's vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they've passed their test," DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said the changes "will help reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skills they need to use our roads safely".

Motoring research charity RAC Foundation said the changes are the most significant since the written theory exam was introduced in 1996.

"Much has changed since the first driving test was taken in 1935, and it must be right that the test evolves, just as the cars we drive are themselves changing to incorporate ever more driver assist technology such as inbuilt sat nav systems.

"Novice drivers need to demonstrate the right skills and driving style to cope with the new environment."

AA president Edmund King also endorsed the new test, saying it can help produce "better, safer motorists".