Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Driving test consultation: the proposed changes explained . . .


Driving test consultation: the proposed changes explained

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Today we’ve launched a consultation on changes to the driving test. I thought it would be helpful if I explained the proposals and gave you information on why these changes will better prepare new drivers and improve road safety.

I’m hoping by doing so you’ll be able to share this information with your pupils, their parents and your colleagues within the driver training industry.

The proposals are to:
increase the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes
  • ask candidates to follow directions on a sat nav as an alternative to following road signs
  • replace current manoeuvres such as ‘reverse around a corner’ with more real life scenarios for example, driving into and reversing out of a parking bay
  • ask one of the two vehicle safety questions while the candidate is driving, for example, asking candidates to use the rear heated screen

Why we need to do something

Chart 9: Casualties by severity and road type, GB: 2015; 

Road collisions are the biggest killer of young people

Young people are a vulnerable group. of road users. We all know this.

Road traffic collisions:
  • are the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 24
  • account for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19

One in 5 people killed or seriously injured on the roads are in a collision where a car driver is aged between 17 and 24.

Most fatal collisions are on rural roads

Most deaths happen on rural roads. These are roads where the speed limit is 40 mph or faster (this doesn’t include motorways).

At the moment it’s not always possible to use these types of roads in the driving test because:
  • driving test routes rely on good signage for candidates to follow - and these don’t always lead to rural or other higher risk roads
  • access is needed to side roads and other quieter roads to carry out the current manoeuvres

I want to make changes to the format of the test so more higher risk roads can be used. The introduction of following directions from a sat nav will open up these types of roads.

Driving test candidates need to be better prepared

Research shows that some learner drivers only learn what they need to so they can pass the driving test. This causes them to take their test before they’re properly ready, which results in a lower overall driving test pass rate.

I also want parents, relatives and friends to understand the importance of getting the best training available. We’ll be publishing a blog post about this in the coming weeks.

Like a real journey

The driving test can’t cover all of what learners need to know but where new drivers tend to get it wrong are when they are confronted by fast rural roads and complex junctions so the test will focus on these higher risk areas.

I want the test to be like a real journey and by making use of sat nav we can see that new drivers can manage this distraction safely. Those involved in the trial have said this helps them to concentrate on their driving and forget about the examiner!

More drivers are using sat navs

The National Travel Survey 2014 shows that over half of all car drivers in England now use a sat nav. It’s increased from 32.5% in 2009 to 51.9% in 2014.

The national standard for driving cars and light vans sets out what you must be able to do, know and understand to use a sat nav safely.

As more people are using these devices, I want new drivers to be trained to meet the standard to use them safely.

The new manoeuvres

The new manoeuvres are used in every day driving and will mean that whilst the turn in the road and reverse around a corner should feature in the training syllabus, they will not be part of the test which will remove the need to spend time in the quieter low risk roads.

Prepared for a lifetime of driving

As Chief Driving Examiner, I care passionately that learner drivers are trained to be fully prepared for a lifetime of driving.

I want this new test to encourage the right training so new drivers have the knowledge and skill to drive well, manage risks and distractions and have a greater chance of remaining safe on our roads.

What work has been done so far

Starting in April 2015, we’ve worked with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and run a research trial into the a new test. Two groups of volunteers – trial and control – have been monitored. The trial group has taken the new test, whilst the control group has taken the current test.

Read a more detailed summary of the interim findings of the trial on GOV.UK

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