Driving test changes bring in 'independent driving'

04/10/10

Changes to the driving test mean learners have to drive for 10 minutes without any help from their examiner.

The new independent section has been brought in to test candidates' navigation skills and make the tests more like real driving.

Learners will have to follow road signs or a series of directions rather than being told where and when to turn.

The new practical standard also applies to the motorcycle module two test and to the LGV test.

Chris Nelson, 18, from Hampshire agreed to try it out to see how it compares with the old one.

He originally passed last year with a few minor faults and said he found it quite easy.

"The manoeuvres were hard but my driving instructor had prepared me well," he said.

'Likely to fail'

Once in the car, Chris was told to follow signs to Stanmore, northwest London, for 10 minutes without asking for help.

He managed OK but said he found it hard because there was a lot to think about at the same time.

I think I would have got more flustered, which would have made me more likely to fail
Chris Nelson, 18

"You do have to look at the signs and it does take you away from concentrating on your driving," he admitted.

"If I had had that as my driving test a year ago I think I would have got more flustered, which would have made me more likely to fail."

One of the reasons the new test has been brought in is because the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) found new drivers were struggling to find their way around after they had passed.

Pass Rates

Chris thinks the independent driving will make things easier in the long run.

"People drive to different destinations all the time and they need to know how to get there.

"But if you have just started it will be harder and you will probably have to have more lessons."

The DSA says it does not expect there to be a big drop in the pass rate and that drivers shouldn't need any more lessons.

Chris's examiner Cheryl also thought it would also be quite straightforward.

"Now that instructors know this is going to be included it will be quite easy for them to prepare their pupils," she said.