The New Driving Test

As you’ve probably read now, the new driving test comes into effect on Monday 4 December. There are, broadly, three changes coming in:

1) The Independent Driving section of the test is being expanded from 10 to 20 minutes and will, in 4 out of 5 tests, be conducted by following a Sat Nav (supplied and programmed by the examiner). In the remaining tests candidates will be asked to follow road signs as per the current test.

2) The ‘Reverse around a corner’ and ‘Turn in the road’ manoeuvres are being dropped and replaced with driving into and then reversing out of a bay, and pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing two car lengths, then pulling away again.

3) One of the Show Me Tell Me questions will be asked whilst on the move (the other will, as presently, be asked at the start of the test).

We will still be teaching the ‘Reverse around a corner’ and ‘Turn in the road’ manoeuvres as they are valuable lessons in their own right and are manoeuvres that you may be called upon to do at any time in your driving.

The Show Me Tel Me questions will be changing slightly and I will be publishing these for students in the near future. In the meantime they can be seen on the DVSA website.

The DVSA have released a set of videos on YouTube to explain the new test and demonstrate the new manoeuvres:

Read the full DVSA article by clicking here


The Proposed New Driving Test

Last week I was at a meeting about the proposed changes to the practical driving test.  In April trials start at a number of test centres across the country to see the effectiveness of the proposals.  The changes that have been proposed are as follows:

  • The Turn In The Road and Reverse Left are to be dropped in favour of driving forwards into a parking bay then reversing out and pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing back two car lengths, then moving off again.
  • Currently two safety questions (Show Me / Tell Me) are asked at the start of the test. Now one of these will be asked during the test, while the candidate is on the move.
  • The Independent Drive section of the test will be increased from 10 minutes to 20 minutes and a Sat Nav utilised to give the route. This section will also include the normal checks of pulling the car in and pulling away and the reversing manoeuvre which are currently undertaken outside of the ID section.

As with when the Independent Driving section was added to the test a few years ago, these changes are designed to more accurately mimic real life driving.  Whilst very few people I’ve spoken to admit to pulling up on the right, reversing back a couple of car lengths and pulling off again, the reversing part is added to ensure it meets the legal requirement for a manoeuvre in the test.   The safety question on the move is designed to act as a distraction whilst driving, much as we come across every day.  Sat Navs will be supplied by the DVSA for the test and will be pre-programmed with a route, including stopping off points along the way.

The discussion turned to the outgoing manoeuvres, Turn In The Road and Reverse Left, and whether people would stop teaching them.  The general consensus (and one I subscribe to) is that we teach people to drive, not pass the test.  The Turn In The Road is an excellent way of beginning to teach a student the skills necessary to manoeuvre the car and both are important real world skills.  To stop teaching them would be to offer a service less than is being paid for.

What are your thoughts on the new test?  Please comment below.

FIA Announce New Formula E Series

The FIA has announced a new racing series – Formula E, starting in 2014.

Set to race on street circuits around the globe, Formula E is for electric vehicles only.  You can read more at the BBC site.

My only concern is the final line in this article:

…when a driver comes into the pits, he won’t just change his tyres.

He’ll change the whole car – swapping it for a new, and fully charged machine.

Surely this flies in the face of everything the FIA is attempting to do in other formulae in cost cutting?  Is there no way batteries can be switched in the pits, or is this just journalistic licence?

Practical Test Cancellation & Highway Code App

Two bits of news today.

I (or rather my students) have been fairly lucky in rarely having to cancel a test at short notice. The case has always been that, if you give more than 3 working days notice of a cancellation or change, you don’t lose your fee, with changes after this date costing you the £62 test fee. Fees could be safe in special circumstances (bereavement, illness, accident, etc) but I found out today that this is no longer the case. Now there are no allowances for such circumstances, thus you will lose your test fee if you cancel within the three working day window, whatever the reason.

Recently, the DSA have announced a new iPhone app based around the Highway Code. More details can be read at the DSA’a website. Not having an iPhone, I can’t vouch for the app, but if anyone has tried it, please let me know your thoughts. Available now for £3.99.

Don’t forget the Highway Code, as well as being available as a book, is free to view at Highway Code Online.

Government Slashes Motoring Red Tape

A mail from the Department Of Transport today gives details of various changes to reduce the red tape that drivers have to go through:

Drivers are to be released from reams of red tape currently required by government, Transport Secretary Justine Greening announced today.

As a result of the Road Transport Red Tape Challenge – the government wide process to get rid of unnecessary, burdensome and overcomplicated regulation – the Department for Transport is:

  • Scrapping the regulation requiring motorists to hold a paper counterpart to their driving licence by 2015 – saving drivers up to £8m.
  • Improving the regulation surrounding the notification process for vehicles that are not in use on the road (Statutory Off Road Notification or SORN). Once drivers have notified the DVLA that their vehicle is SORN, they will no longer have the burden of annual SORN renewal.
  • Only issuing hard-copies of V5C vehicle registration certificates for fleet operators when needed, with the potential to be rolled out to private motorists.
  • Introducing a limited exemption from drivers’ hours rules so that those who also drive as Territorial Army reservists in their own time can continue to do so.

Following a vigorous process of challenge, both by the public and within Whitehall, a total of 142 road transport regulations will now be scrapped or improved.

Justine Greening said;

“Motorists shouldn’t have to keep numerous bits of paper just to prove they can drive and have bought insurance – we live in digital age and we need to embrace that.

“Reducing the number of rules and regulations in our life is absolutely vital to removing barriers to economic growth and increasing individual freedoms. This whole process just proves that there’s so much sitting on our statute books that at the very least needs a good spring clean or can be scrapped entirely.”

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:

“I’m delighted that so many motoring regulations will be scrapped or improved, particularly those that affect business.

“The Red Tape Challenge has built up real momentum since it was launched in April. Overall, of over 1,200 regulations considered so far, we have agreed to scrap or improve well over 50 per cent.

“We have already published regulations covering 12 themes, and there are 13 themes to come, so there remains huge scope for reducing the burden of regulation on business and individuals even further.”

Other proposed changes to road transport regulations include:

  • Removing the need for an insurance certificate. The Department for Transport will work with the insurance industry on removing the need for motorists to have to hold an insurance certificate.
  • Abolishing the requirement for drivers to prove they have insurance when applying for tax meaning 600,000 more people will be able to tax their car online. This has been made possible by new checks of existing databases for insurance under new Continuous Insurance Enforcement rules. The DVLA’s records are compared regularly with the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to identify registered keepers of vehicles that appear to have no insurance.
  • We will look at experience in other countries on driver Certificates of Professional Competence (CPC) – the qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. In particular, to see if we could remove the need for some sectors, such as farmers who drive stock to market, from needing a CPC.
  • Local Authorities will now have to ensure business interests are properly considered as part of any future proposed Workplace Parking Levy scheme. They must show they have properly and effectively consulted local businesses, have addressed any proper concerns raised and secured support from the local business community.
  • Abolishing the regulations on the treatment of lost property on buses. Bus companies currently have to wait 48 hours before they can throw away perishable items left on the bus.

Visit the Red Tape Challenge Website