By Matt Guy
DRIVING instructors and learners have been put on alert as driving tests are to be hit with four major changes by the end of the year to help improve safety statistics.
The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has been urged to make the changes as road collisions have quickly become the biggest killer of young people in the UK and account for over a quarter of all deaths of those aged between 15 and 19.
The changes are (https://www.carkeys.co.uk/news/driving-test-changes-2017):
- Independent driving part of the test to increase from 10 minutes to 20 minutes
- Following Sat-Nav directions to be part of independent driving section
- Reverse around a corner and turn in the road manoeuvres to be replaced with more real-life scenarios
- One of two vehicle safety questions to be asked while the candidate is driving
DVSA chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “Great Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But there’s still more that we can do to keep road users safe – particularly newly-qualified drivers.
“Making sure that the test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help every driver through a lifetime of safe driving.”
DVSA chief driving examiner, Lesley Young, added: “Candidates will be given more responsibility for making decisions during the test. We want them to show they can cope with distractions and assess risk without the intervention of their instructor or examiner.
“Road collisions are the leading cause of death for young drivers aged between 15 and 24 – and the most fatal accidents occur on high-speed rural roads with a massive 52 per cent of drivers now using sat-nav devices while driving as well.”
According to Gov.uk’s latest annual driving statistics in 2015 there were:
1,732 reported road deaths, a decrease of 2% compared with 2014 – that’s the second lowest annual total on record after 2013.
45 per cent fewer fatalities than a decade earlier in 2006.
A total of 186,209 casualties of all severities – around 4 per cent lower than in 2014 and the second lowest level on record.
However, despite these positive figures, vehicle traffic levels increased by 1.6 per cent between 2014 and 2015, meaning that making driving tests as suitable for modern day driving for new learner drivers as possible is more important than ever.
For more government statistics, click here.
The announcement of the new changes has been met with a wave of positivity.
Huddersfield-based driving instructor, Dean Robinson, said he was happy with the new changes but would like to see more done for newly passed drivers post-driving test.
Daryl Arnold, a Halifax driving instructor said: “The new test is recognising what people will actually do on the modern road.
“It will help people understand they have a duty of care whilst using sat-nav.”
Driving Instructors Association CEO, Carly Brookfield, said: “We fully welcome the developments to the test and are compelled by the evidence we have seen to date from the trial to recommend that these long overdue developments are made to a driving test.
“It has been fundamentally unchanged for over 20 years and has not kept pace with how our roads and driver behaviour have developed over time.”
AA president, Edmund King, said: “We know that new drivers are a higher risk on the roads, therefore we need to better prepare them for real-world driving.
“These changes will test drivers in a more realistic manner which is essential to improving their safety once their L plates are removed.”
For more information about the driving test changes, click here.