Changes to practical driving test

People taking their practical driving test will be expected to drive "independently" for a set time without getting step-by-step directions from their examiner, after changes to the test were introduced.

For about 10 minutes, candidates will be asked to complete a route they will have been told about before the test started.

Learner drivers taking their test with poor memories, or those who forget because of nerves need not overly fret, because candidates can still ask for reminders of the route and going off the route is not a cause for failure.

But the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is no longer publishing test routes online.

Another change means those taking the test only have to complete one of the three reversing manoeuvres, instead of two at present.

The elation a young person feels upon passing their test may be tempered when they come to look for car insurance, as young inexperienced drivers sometimes find it hard to find cheap cover.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "The independent driving assessment gives test candidates the chance to show they have the necessary skills to cope with the sort of traffic conditions they will face every day."

DSA's chief driving examiner, Trevor Wedge, said: "The test is being improved to help produce safer drivers, but that doesn't mean it's getting any harder. We know many instructors are already teaching independent driving."

Peter Rodger, chief examiner of the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists), said: "This is a good step forward. All new drivers have to learn that multi-tasking - controlling the car, looking out for hazards and planning ahead while navigating - is an integral part of day-to-day driving."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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