New Driving Test Trials

This is a report compiled by DICE member Tony Mihill who attended a meeting convened by the DVSA at the Basildon driving test centre in January of this year: 

Understanding the New Practical Driving Test Trials

Over the years, the amount of “Killed or Seriously Injured” people on the roads (KSI’s) has been steadily dropping. However, in recent times we have begun to witness another spike in KSI’s.

With this in mind the governing bodies at the DVSA and Transport Ministry have been querying if the present practical driving  test is still as fit for purpose as it once was. So they took some senior examiners, police, and some of the larger driving associations – and asked them to design a driving test from scratch. The DVSA have decided to trial the newly proposed practical driving test across 20 test centres in the UK, with each test centre having 2 examiners trained to deliver the test.

Even though the test is a trial for the DVSA, the test length times are going to be approximately the same as they are now and each pupil will still have to pay the £62.00 test fee as they presently do. This is required to ensure the test falls within current legislation, and so that a driving licence can be issued upon successful completion of the test.

This information was relayed to me during a meeting at Basildon test centre in Essex on the 20th of January. When pushed further, the gentleman giving the presentation said that whilst instructors and pupils will be incentivised to take part in the trial, as of yet he did not know how they would be chosen.

If you are due to take your driving test, don’t panic! It’s all done on a voluntary basis at the moment, so if you don’t want to be part of this test trial you don’t need to be.

“So what’s in the new style test then?” I hear you say.

The test will start, as always, with the documents check and an eyesight check. Then the pupil will only be asked 1 of the 2 show/tell questions, as the other will be asked whilst on the move and may include a new question, such as: “can you show me how you operate the radio, please”. Obviously the other questions that could be asked will include the demister, windscreen wipers and windscreen washers, so it pays to remind the pupils to familiarise themself with these.

It’s then onto the road where a 20 minute independent drive will be introduced. The new independent drive will also include a section which will be a pre-programmed route on a Sat Nav. The DVSA examiners will be using a Tom-Tom Go 50 and will be supplied for the test. Instructors will need to supply a Sat-Nav for driver training purposes.

The other changes to the practical driving test are the manoeuvres. The pupil will no longer be asked to perform a “Turn In The Road” or a “Left Reverse Around A Corner”. Instead they will be asked to perform one of the following manoeuvres:

  • Reverse bay park to the left or right
  • Front bay park and then reverse out to the left or right
  • Parallel park on the left
  • Pull up on the right hand side of the road and reverse in a straight line 2 car lengths

These, as always, will need to have adequate control and observation.

The result of the test will be given to the pupil at the end of the test as usual.

The trials are being overseen and run by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and will be trialled over 1000 tests, with an additional 1000 tests used as a comparison. The trails will begin in April 2015 and will be running for as long as it takes to get the amount of trial tests that they deem appropriate completed.

At the meeting I posed the question “What are you looking for as results and if you get what you expect when will the new test be implemented?”. The DVSA Senior Examiner responded “We don’t know what the outcome will be but if we do adopt some or all of the trialled elements, I can’t see them being generally used until late 2016 to early 2017. This is because once we have the results we have to take this to consultation etc apart from a lot of retraining and logistical matters”.

For pupils that have disabilities or dyslexia the test will be managed on an individual basis but the DVSA must be advised to the disability or challenge beforehand. They do however require a cross-section of disabled pupils to take part in the trials.

As a driving instructor, if you are inclined to be part of the trials, you will need to register your interest with TRL and this can be done through their email test.research@dsa.gsi.gov.uk. Once your interest has been received they will make contact with you to explain more details and will want you to help pupils make contact so that they can become involved.

It is commonly believed by many ADI’s that the DVSA already know what the trials will produce and that this is one way of introducing the test without causing too many complaints. However, to find out the real outcome, we will just have to wait. So watch this space for updates.

Contributed by: Tony Mihill – A Pass 4 U

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