From October 2010, students will be asked to drive independently for about 10 minutes during their test, following a series of directions, road signs, or a combination of both. This is designed to better prepare students for the real world when they will no longer be following directions from someone in the passenger seat.
The DSA have published this video on YouTube to show how it will work:
From the DSA’s publicity:
Independent driving: the facts
Independent driving will become part of the practical driving test in Great Britain in October 2010.
It’s tasking the candidate to drive for about 10 minutes, either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.
To help the candidate be clear about where they’re going, the examiner can show them a diagram too.
It doesn’t matter if candidates don’t remember every direction, or if they go the wrong way – that can happen to the most experienced drivers.
The claim in some newspapers that independent driving would lead to a fall in the driving test pass rate is based on early research where conditions did not reflect the eventual design of the new element of the test.
Subsequent trials with a larger number of participants and more closely reflecting the conditions in the planned new test showed no significant fall in the pass rate.