Northern Ireland

Changes to Northern Ireland driving tests planned

Learner driver

A number of changes are being implemented to driving tests in Northern Ireland.

Among the changes is a section of independent driving, where the candidate has to take responsibility for route finding.

The candidate's instructor is also to be encouraged to stay in the car during the practical test.

The theory test is to be updated so there is more focus on understanding safe driving.

The existing multiple choice format will now feature five more detailed case studies. This change is to be brought in on 19 July.

In the practical test, the number of mandatory manoeuvres will be cut from two to one to allow more time for the independent driving section.

This change, which will mean there is no increase in the time the test takes, is to be introduced some time next year.

The idea behind encouraging the instructor to stay in the car during the driving test is that if the candidate fails, they can provide more focused training on specific weaknesses.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: "The modifications to the learning to drive and testing process form the basis of a programme of measures that place a new emphasis on the attitudes, and behaviours, of candidates towards the driving process.

"These new processes should encourage a culture of lifelong learning amongst future candidates, and will contribute to a reduction in road deaths and injuries, particularly amongst newly-qualified drivers."