The DVSA will introduce four new elements to the driving test on 4 December – but one in particular has come under fire by driving instructors for being unsafe and against the Highway Code.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced earlier this year that they are changing some of the elements in the driving test to ensure new drivers are tested on modern driving practices.
Four new elements are set to be added to the practical driving test as of 4 December 2014, while two old elements will be removed.
The two being removed are the turn in the road (three-point turn) and reversing around a corner, with the new additions being:
- Independent driving will be increased to 20 minutes of the test
- Drivers will follow sat-nav directions as part of the test
- Drivers will be asked two questions about vehicle safety by the examiner while driving
As well as these, drivers will be asked to perform one of the following manoeuvres:
- Parallel park at the side of the road
- Park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
- Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and rejoin the traffic
Of the new manoeuvres, it is the last one on the list that has been challenged by driving instructors – with one going as far as setting up an online petition to remove it from the driving test.
Antony Cover, the driving instructor who has started the petition that now has over 2,000 signatures, said:
“Both myself and every driving instructor I’ve spoken to are totally against this idea as it’s such a dangerous exercise.
“Imagine the situation where they pull up, reverse two car lengths so they’re now fairly close to a car behind and then a van or lorry pulls up in front of them? How are they going to move out safely?
“If they’re starting to pull out blindly and the examiner sees something coming what does he or she do?”
He goes on to suggest that the new manoeuvre is actually against the Highway Code, with rule 239 stating:
“Use off-street parking areas, or bays marked out with white lines on the road as parking places, wherever possible.
“If you have to stop on the roadside: Do not park facing against the traffic flow.”
In response, the DVSA’s deputy chief driving instructor Gordon Witherspoon said:
“The new manoeuvre reflects how people actually drive and it is vital they have the knowledge and skills to do it safely, which is why it is included.
“The new test was trialled with more than 4,300 learner drivers and has the support of the driver training industry and road safety groups.”
However, based on a recent poll conducted by Confused, it doesn’t seem as if drivers are convinced about the new changes to the driving test.
Confused surveyed 2,000 UK drivers and just 17% thought the new reversing manoeuvre was a good idea. The poll also found that 84% didn’t agree with the removal of the turn-in-the-road manoeuvre, while 75% wanted to keep the reversing around a corner manoeuvre.
Less than 50% agreed with any of the new test elements learner drivers will now have to face, and nearly 75% opposed the addition of the vehicle safety questions while driving.
The best feedback came for the addition of following a sat-nav, with 46% saying that was a good idea.