Driving test changes – third of motorists don’t think they will improve road safety

The government has pushed for changes to the practical driving test to try to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the road, particularly amongst the young drivers.

L plates for learner driversThe new test will be in place from the 4th December 2017 and there have been mixed opinions on the changes being implemented. A poll of 2,000 motorists has found that a third of drivers – equivalent to 15 million drivers – don’t believe the changes will actually improve road safety.

The survey of UK licence holders, conducted by Confused.com, found that 33 per cent of respondents don’t think the new test will reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads and almost half disagree with the addition of a new parking manoeuvre which will see new drivers pulling up into oncoming traffic and reversing to simulate parking on the opposite side of the road.

What are the changes to the driving test?

There are some significant changes to the test – with some elements being added and some being removed.

What is out?

  • Reversing around a corner
  • Turn in the road (three-point turn)

What is in?

  • Increased independent driving – now twenty minutes instead of ten
  • Using a sat nav to navigate and follow directions
  • Pulling up on the right-hand side of the road and reversing two car lengths
  • Answering questions on vehicle safety whilst driving
  • Driving in to and reversing out of a parking bay

There are mixed views across the entire test but a particular area of concern is the manoeuvre which requires drivers to pull up on to the opposite side of the road and reverse – 43 percent polled questioned the safety and some instructors have called it “dangerous”.

Over 100 people have signed a petition to request the change is omitted from the test by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency with some calling for the manoeuvre to be made illegal.

The controversial manoeuvre is set to replace the generally learner-hated reversing around a corner manoeuvre and the generally well-regarded turn in the road. Some instructors have pointed out how the turn in the road manoeuvre teaches the learner about monitoring their entire surroundings at all times and controlling the clutch and how the lack of inclusion could hamper learners in developing those skills – but the Government, through removal, has shown that it does not believe the manoeuvre is relevant in “real” driving any more.

Whilst opinion is largely divided, there are some elements of the test that are generally welcomed by those polled, including the introduction of the sat nav element and the increase in independent driving time. But, whilst there are positives, motorists feel that come key driving skills have been omitted that should have been added to this refresh.

What do drivers want to see added to the practical driving test?

Motorway driving73%
Night time driving66%
Tailgating (not to do it)65%
Middle lane hogging (not to do it)52%
Indicating etiquette52%
Improved cyclist awareness49%
All weather driving47%
Selfish parking (not to do it)36%
Thank you wave20%
Financial knowledge18%

 

In the poll there were particularly strong calls for drivers to be taught and tested on better etiquette, driving on the motorway and night-time driving – all potentially having a big impact on road safety.

Other areas for consideration include cyclist awareness and motorcyclist awareness to make the roads safer for all road users, better awareness of the legality of phone use and the financial impacts of car ownership.

Following the survey results, Amanda Stretton, Confused.com’s motoring editor, has said: “To make the roads safer, drivers believe more practical changes should have been included in the new updates set to be implemented in December.

“To help improve the quality of driving on our roads, there is a valid argument that new drivers should be taught general road etiquette and how to treat fellow drivers.

“This could help to minimise stress levels, road rage, and the risk of accidents, providing all drivers an easy ride.”

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