Student and Graduate Publishing

New Rules for Learner Drivers

Friday, 03 November 2017 09:49

As of December 4th 2017, learner drivers can expect to see a change in the UK’s DVSA driving test. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is going to introduce a new driving test in England, Scotland and Wales. The changes in the current test have been designed to ensure new drivers have the skills they need to drive safely on the UK’s roads. Driving instructors are expected to be teaching learner drivers everything they need to know for the new driving test – the main aim is that learners know how to drive safely.     

What to expect from the new changes

Driving instructors should already be teaching their students, in line with the upcoming test. There will be four main driving test changes from December 4th 2017. The changes are to ensure new drivers are fully equipped and prepared for real life driving, and have enough experience of modern day driving practices. For now, the changes will only apply to car driving tests.

The new changes are as followed: 

The reversing manoeuvres will be changed
Previously, learner drivers may have been asked to perform a reverse around a corner or turn in the road manoeuvre, however, after the 4th December 2017, these two manoeuvres will be taken out of the test. Whilst the old manoeuvres will not be tested in your driving exam, your driving instructor should still teach you these manoeuvres. 

Once the new test has been introduced, the three manoeuvres that you could be tested on are: 

•Parallel park at the side of the road.

•Park in the bay, you will be asked to either drive into a space and reverse out, or reverse into a space and drive out.

•Pull up on the right-hand side of the road and asked to reverse for two car lengths and then re-join the traffic. 

Learner drivers will need to answer vehicle safety questions whilst driving
The ‘show me, tell me’ questions will now be asked at different points during the driving test – previously they were asked before you started driving – however, the 'tell me' will now be asked at the start of your test. Likewise, the ‘show me’ will be asked whilst you drive. For example, you could be asked to demonstrate how to wash the windscreen etc. 

The independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes
This part of the driving test, which previously lasted around ten minutes, will now be extended to 20 minutes. Independent driving will last for around half of the full driving test, and will still require the driver to drive safely on the roads without having turn-by-turn instructions from the examiner. 

Learner drivers will need to follow instructions from a Sat Nav
Many drivers have had some experience using a sat nav, but for new drivers, the DVSA believe training is required so that they know how to use one safely. 52% of car drivers now own a sat nav, or have one integrated into their vehicles. 

The sat nav will be provided by the test centre and the driver will be asked to follow directions to a designated location as set out by the examiner. Using a sat nav safely will be part of the independent driving section of the test. A TomTom Start 52 will be used. It is important to note that drivers will not fail if they go the wrong way, as long as they are driving safely. 

Traditional traffic signs won’t be completely taken out of the driving tests, with 1 in 5 driving tests not using a sat nav and instead the driver will have to follow traffic signs. 

The remainder of the test is expected to stay the same. It will still last approximately 40 minutes and you will pass if you make no more than 15 minor faults and no serious dangerous driving faults. 

Should learner drivers be allowed on motorways? 
Learner drivers haven’t been allowed to drive on motorways in the past. But recent announcements from the UK government say that is about to change as new laws will allow learner drivers to drive on motorways when accompanied by a qualified instructor in a dual controlled car, from early 2018. Driving instructors won’t be given any additional training, however, the DVSA will provide extra learning materials and an updated car driving syllabus. 

The rule change is to allow learner and new drivers to gain experience driving on our fastest roads. They want to eliminate the ‘lack of experience’ element. Driving on motorways with your driving instructor means that newly qualified drivers don’t have to drive motorways for the first time on their own – the aim is that they will already have experience driving on the faster roads, with multiple lanes. 

According to Pete Williams from the RAC, “Giving learners the option to gain valuable experience on our fastest and busiest roads should further improve safety and enhance the confidence of new drivers.”

To which Jasmine Halstead, head of learning and development for British School of Motoring had the same attitude, saying, “If learners aren’t allowed to practise on motorways under supervision then some will avoid motorways, and others will use motorways incorrectly when they have passed their test. Hence it is great news for road safety that learners will be able to drive on motorways under supervision.”