LEARNER DRIVERS could be required to follow directions from a sat-nav system rather than reading road signs, and the three-point turn could be dropped in favour of reversing out of a parking space, as part of the biggest overhaul of the practical driving test in 20 years.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will ask around 1,000 learner drivers across the UK to take part in a trial practical examination that has been designed to “better reflect real-life driving”.
Proposed changes include dropping the three-point turn – or ‘turn in the road’ as it is officially known – and reverse around a corner manoeuvres in favour of reversing out of a parking bay and pulling up on the left or right of the road before safely re-joining the flow of traffic.
Rather than being quizzed on road safety before the examination begins, learner drivers may also be asked safety questions while driving, such as how they would operate the rear heated screen while on the move, for example.
The proposed changes to the practical exam have been designed to reflect more realistic driving conditions, so rather than following directions from a DVSA official and reading road signs, learners could be asked to follow instructions from a satellite navigation system.
The Driving Instructors Association (DIA) welcomed the plans. Carly Brookfield, its chief executive, said: “DIA has been heavily involved in the scoping of this project and is enthusiastic about the opportunity it presents to evolve the L-test to a level where it more realistically assesses a candidate’s ability to competently and safely manage road based risk and driving in real life, on real roads.”
However, not everyone is an advocate for the changes. RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: “We all rely on our sat navs but they are not infallible and it is when they have led us down a dead end that we need to know how to do a three-point turn.
“It’s fine to add some aspects to the test but we should be cautious about removing the basics.”