Learner drivers attempting to earn their licence will face a significantly different test from today as new rules come into force.
In a bid to cut the number of young people killed on Britain’s roads, the government has brought in a series of changes to the driving test - including the ruling that new drivers must be examined on their ability to follow a sat nav safely.
Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “Our roads are among the safest in the world. However, road collisions are the biggest killer of young people.
“These changes will help us to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads and equip new drivers with the skill they need to use our roads safely.”
But the changes have sparked controversy among driving examiners, who are set to stage a 48-hour strike from Monday.
Up to 2,000 workers are expected to down tools, affecting around 14,500 driving tests, court cases and roadside checks.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have demanded a pause in the roll out of the new test amid safety fears.
“Our union has called for the new test to be suspended pending a full safety review after incidents occurred on driving lessons which have been conducted to the new testing arrangements,” a PCS spokesperson said in a statement.
A ballot held last month revealed that 84% of members supported strike action over the issue.
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn dismissed the claims, saying the union was “trying to undermine the launch of the new test”.
But what do the updated rules mean for learner drivers?
Here’s HuffPost UK’s guide to the new driving test:
What changes are being made?
There are four key changes coming into force:
1. Following directions from a sat nav
Under the new rules, 80% of candidates will now be asked to follow directions from a sat nav to reflect the “new vehicle technology” available to Britain’s drivers.
During the test, the examiner will provide the sat nav and will set the route - learner drivers will not be allowed to use their own device.
According to the DVLA, test candidates will not lose marks if they go the wrong way while following the sat nav - only if they make a fault while doing so.
One in five drivers will be asked to follow traffic signs instead.
2. Independent driving
The independent driving part of the test has been doubled in length, from 10 to 20 minutes.
Learners will now spend around half of the test driving without instruction from the driving examiner, instead following a sat nav or traffic signs.
3. Reversing manoeuvres
Under the new rules, learners will no long be asked to prove they can reverse around a corner or perform a three-point turn in the road.
Instead, they could be asked to parallel park at the side of the road, park in a bay or pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic.
4. Vehicle safety questions
Learners will now be asked two vehicle safety questions during their test.
They will be asked to explain how they would carry out a safety task at the start of their test, plus a ‘show me’ question while driving.
This could be an action such as showing how to wash the windscreen using car controls.
Who will be affected by the changes?
Anyone taking their driving test from December 4 will be affected by the changes.
This includes learners who have previously failed a test and are taking it again. Candidates who have their test cancelled or moved to December 4 or after are also subject to the new rules.
What is staying the same?
The cost and length of the test will remain the same, despite other changes to the rules.
The pass mark of the driving test is also unaffected - learners will still pass their test as long as they do not make more than 15 driving faults and make no serious or dangerous mistakes.
Why are the changes being made?
The new rules have been made in an attempt to improve safety on Britain’s roads - traffic collisions are the biggest killer of young people, accounting for over a quarter of all deaths of teens aged 15 to 19.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said: “Making sure the driving test better assesses a driver’s ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads.
“It’s vital that the driving test keeps up to date with new vehicle technology and the areas where new drivers face the greatest risk once they’ve passed their test.”