As of December the 4th 2017, 80% of drivers will be examined on their ability to navigate roads using a Sat Nav (satellite navigation) as a compulsory part of the UK driving test.
The DVSA (Driver Vehicle Standards Agency) announced earlier this week that the proposal will be implemented along with these other changes to the driving test:
- Increasing independent driving time from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.
- Removing “turn in the road” and “reverse around a corner” and being asked to perform 1 of 3 manoeuvres:
- parallel park
- park in a bay (either driving into a spot or reversing out of it)
- pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing 2 car lengths and then re-joining traffic.
- Answering 2 questions on vehicle safety.
- “tell me” – explaining how to carry out a particular safety task before you start driving
- “show me” – showing the examiner how you would carry out a safety task whilst driving
Other than the changes listed above, the driving test will still operate in the same way. It will still run for approximately 40 minutes, the scoring system will remain as it is (no more than 15 minor driving faults and no serious faults) and the current costs for the test will not be altered. When the use of Sat Navs comes into force in December, the examiner will be the one who provides and sets up the Sat Nav before the test begins. You will not be able to use your own. If you do not get selected to use a Sat Nav during your test, you will be asked to follow traffic signs instead.
What is the reason for the new change?
The overall aim is to reduce the amount of fatal collisions that occur on high-speed roads. Young people aged 15 – 19 make up a staggering 25% of deaths on these types of roads (excluding motorways), and by changing the structure of the driving test, this will mean that many of these routes can be included in the actual tests themselves, enabling young drivers to be better equipped to drive on similar roads even once they’ve passed.
Sat Navs are built into a lot of new cars these days and many of them also come with additional features such as a rear facing dashcam, lane changing alerts, hands free calling support and Smartphone companion apps. Many young people are using their phones as navigation systems when driving, and with maps becoming a thing of the past, new roads being built all the time, and roads in general becoming busier – incorporating this new change will help examiners in assessing a driver’s ability to be able to follow directions, drive in a safe manner and not get distracted.
Could more be done to make the driving test safer?
A Government showed that the new proposal is widely supported by the general public, with over 70% of people in agreement of the implementation of sat navs in the driving test. But is this going to be enough to fully prepare young people for what lies ahead when they pass their test?
The recent proposal to allow learner drivers to practice on the motorway could prove invaluable, as this is something they currently aren’t permitted to do so until they have passed. By having that comfort and stability of an instructor by their side for their first time, it could be a much less daunting experience than if they were to venture on to the motorway on their own or without a parent. But what about things like educating learners on what they should do if their car breaks down?
In a recent survey we carried out, breaking down and motorway driving were 2 of the things that were rated among the highest of driving anxieties for young people. If the driving test or driving tuition in general incorporated how to safely manage your vehicle, and passengers in the event of a break down, this could really help in a real life scenario.
As much as we would like to think that using a sat nav would be enough, we believe more could be done to ensure young people feel safer on the roads before and after their driving test!