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More ADIs needed for the practical driving test trial

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Sat nav being used in a car

Earlier this year, DVSA began to trial a new version of the practical driving test.

We regularly review the driving test to make sure that it keeps pace with modern driving demands. Following discussions with representatives from the driver training industry last year, we identified a number of changes that we all felt would better prepare new drivers to drive independently. This included introducing a number of new manoeuvres and developing test routes using a satnav.

You can find out more on GOV.UK about these features and at which test centres the trial is taking place.

Comparing the outcomes

I’m pleased to report that the trial is progressing well, with 32 test centres now participating across the country with Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) making 1,252 driving test bookings on behalf of their pupils. That’s 622 in the trial group and 630 in the control group. I should also point out that the control group is just as important as the trial group, as we need to compare outcomes of the new test with the current one.

We’d like to see more ADIs take part

However, we’d like to see more ADIs join the trial. Its success is dependent on ADIs signing up and identifying candidates to take either the new test or the current one. There’s no limit on how many candidates an ADI can put forward and a there’s a range of incentives available to both ADIs and candidates for taking part.

The feedback so far is positive…

At the moment, our project team is in the middle of the research. We’re confident about how things are going following some good feedback from ADIs and candidates who’ve taken part. Last month, we also demonstrated the test trial to some key road safety stakeholders, where the response was really positive:

“Many thanks for the invitation yesterday which I thoroughly enjoyed and more importantly found to be extremely beneficial. Seeing and experiencing the new test was invaluable. I was particularly struck by how the 20 minute independent drive using the satnav made the test so much more realistic to today’s driving conditions. The ‘show me’ exercise worked really well as did the reverse out of a parking bay.” Nick Lloyd, RoSPA

“If there is any assistance we can give to shifting the emphasis of the test towards safety rather than manoeuvres do let me know.” David Davies, PACTS

“Greatly encouraged by the new test – excellent stuff.” Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation

How to register your interest

The trial is set to run until early 2016, and is open to all ADIs who operate in or around the 32 test centres participating.  It’s your opportunity to shape the future of the driving test.

If you want to register for the trial, please take this short survey


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  1. Comment by Martin Talbot posted on

    Very bad idea.Sat navs give too much wrong information and can't distinguish the different junctions.. eg if your on a major road which bears to the right and a minor road which go's straight ahead, the sat nav will tell you to take the next road on the right, which will cause the pupil to indicate right for no reason. It is also well known that even experienced drivers don't understand them.

    • Replies to Martin Talbot>

      Comment by Rob posted on

      All the more reason to,ensure that pupils are taught how to use them properly

    • Replies to Martin Talbot>

      Comment by Glyn posted on

      Noted Martin - however, surely proving that candidates are aware of their surroundings and can use their observation skills rather than simply obeying the box of electronics stuck on the windscreen is part of the point...?

  2. Comment by Chauhan posted on

    Not if one uses upto date software.
    One ony gets wrong directions when the software is out of date by more then twelve months that's why they recommend to upgrade the software every so often.

    • Replies to Chauhan>

      Comment by Glyn posted on

      Not true - there are several junctions that my regularly updated satnav misrepresents. Examples of this include motorway junctions where obeying the satnav lane advice can - and often does - result in drivers cutting across chevron hatched areas bounded by solid white lines, roundabouts that have - on the ground - been converted to crossroads (and vice versa) but the mapping doesn't reflect this and misrepresented speed limits.

      A satnav is a useful tool, but the motorist needs to employ their own observation skills and remain aware of their surroundings...

  3. Comment by Scott Lemaitre posted on

    I totally disagree with the stopping on right hand side of road, reverse and pull away again. In winter time, last test of day, pupils will fail because going into opposing lane with dipped headlights on.

    • Replies to Scott Lemaitre>

      Comment by Tim Clayton posted on

      Then don't we teach going down to sidelights, or marker lights, when pulling onto the right to park?

  4. Comment by FRANCIS BECK posted on

    After rightly tightening up the law on the distracting and dangerous practice of using mobile phones whilst driving ,we now go back to square one with the proposed distraction of encouraging the use of satnavs. A contradictory and dangerous idea

    • Replies to FRANCIS BECK>

      Comment by Martin Evans posted on

      Lots of just plain silly comments above...satnavs are fine if used correctly and that's what the trial is testing... realistic driving situations.

  5. Comment by Rita Allford posted on

    personally I would not use a sat-nav as ANYTHING that takes your eyes off the road is wrong. Sometimes when my husband is in the car and I am driving he will use the sat-nav but more often than not ends up with a row, which is another good reason for not having them. sometimes the old ways are the best, and not always is technology a good thing. Going down the M5 this summer the sat-nav kept telling me to keep right, keep right, this was to avoid going into the lay-by ! --- I mean.

    • Replies to Rita Allford>

      Comment by N D Black posted on

      Lay-by on the Motorway?

    • Replies to Rita Allford>

      Comment by mike Abraham grade A instructor posted on

      Could you please show me where there is a lay-by on the M5 in the right hand lane. The Sat nav is telling you to keep right because you are coming to an exit on the left to leave the Motorway.It wants you to stay on the Motorway to get to your destination..
      Perhaps if you are an Instructor you might want to think about doing a Motorway course yourself because you clearly don't know how to use one.

  6. Comment by Rita Allford posted on

    While I'm commenting, what has gone wrong with all road signs these days, the times I go into a 30 m.p.h road only to find the next sign on the lamp-post is 20, why you may ask, after a lot of emails to my council they put the new 20 sign up but forgot to take the 30 down. Why do we have to have straight on arrows at roundabouts when we are clearly turning right! If you ask me there are far too many signs these days, which can be confusing, if you know your highway code why do you need them?

    • Replies to Rita Allford>

      Comment by FRANCIS BECK posted on

      Nick Lloyd from ROSPA {above} refers to 'reversing out of a parking bay'. Does he mean 'reversing into a parking bay'?

      • Replies to FRANCIS BECK>

        Comment by Tim Clayton posted on

        I suspect he did indeed mean "reversing out", as required as a possible manoeuvre on the alternative test. A very practical adjustment to the test.

  7. Comment by Graeme posted on

    Is it just me? Sat nave are just as dangerous if not more than using a mobile phone. It takes the eyes off the road and no matter which way you try to justify it that's BAD!! Saying that using them is a fact of life these days means we might as well get them to try and use there mobile at the same time. Accepting the fact that they are going to do it anyway

    • Replies to Graeme>

      Comment by Tim Clayton posted on

      Good (= appropriate) use of any new (or old) technology is what we should be teaching, to encourage thinking drivers. Same approach as knowing when to ask your passengers to keep quiet, or politely ignore their helpful driving advice (!)

  8. Comment by ian posted on

    I cannot beleive the DVSA is promoting the use of satvav to L drivers. Most of my 17 year old pupils cant find their way home from 1 mile away so why make it easier. These kids need to develop a sense of direction and read road signs. Are you serious about these kids staring at a screen attached to the windscreen instead of looking where they are going. Why not teach them how to use a map for gods sake. I go on holiday 5 or 6 times a year in England and I use google maps for the last 3 or 4 miles to find my hotel.I wish I was paid the same as these people that come out with these ideas. Satnav should only be used on Pass plus lessons when the pupil is in a strange environment and has relaxed from the tension that has built up towards taking the L test.

    • Replies to ian>

      Comment by Tim Clayton posted on

      I think it's very beneficial to have at your disposal a well-sited slowly-developing diagram of the road junctions ahead. You can ignore it when there's plenty of hazards immediately in front, and choose when to tune in to its speaking (with a judicious pinch of salt) and when to tune out. It's a tool, like a calculator in a maths exam—it doesn't mean it's better or faster than mental arithmetic, but has advantages in some situations. IMHO. It's up to us as ADIs to get it seen that way.

  9. Comment by Radom Jar posted on

    Martin, Scott, Rita... ABSOLUTELY I DO AGREE WITH YOU !!!;))

  10. Comment by Mick Ogden posted on

    I seem to be picking up more and more pupils because the gadget laden vehicles they are learning in are beyond their price range once they have passed their test.
    One recent pupil who had been learning with a large national school did not even recognise the hand brake lever in my car, what!!
    I agree with progress but most of my pupils will be buying vehicles without these gadgets fitted once they have passed their test as it will be a case of affordability.
    We should be introducing this type of technology post test as part of a graduated learning curve. This could be financed by the people selling them these vehicles.

  11. Comment by Eshan Moossun posted on

    Weigh out the the positives and negatives of using sat nav and you will see how useful the device. As to the other proposed changes, common, let's move on with the the reality of driving on our road 2015 and definitely more changes ahead.

  12. Comment by John Clark posted on

    I think this a bad idea .As an ex rally navigator I prefer maps and always plan any long journey to where i intend to travel,and note all roads and junction turns on a write pad on my right hand side on the higher dash .The Sat Nav will be stuck on the screen I presume by the Examiner ,creating a blind spot ,and lots of drivers mishear directions as I myself have done .This results in me taking my eyes from the road to look at the Sat Nav and the picture there too ,when the situation in front of my car is changing every split second .Sat Navs can be helpful,but by god they have many ,many drawbacks too .We are saying DONT use Mobiles,or argue when driving or dont put in a CD or adjust the radio,and most manufacturers are putting phone and radio controls on the steering wheel to avoid distraction,and now the DSA want pupils to gaze at a Sat Nav on a driving test .The Driving Test is about how a new driver can safely handle a car and deal with situations that develop ,not about how good they are at dealing with a computer,which is what a Sat Nav is !

    • Replies to John Clark>

      Comment by Tim Clayton posted on

      If looking (rather, glancing) at a SatNav screen is a bad idea, how much better are the written notes you mention? Are they backlit? And we're not testing memory retention, but trying to remove the unhelpful interpersonal dynamic of young-candidate-following-commands-from-parental-authority-figure, which only skews a proper test of driving performance. This, because the learner rarely escapes the added pressure of a human stranger scrutinizing them, rather than just responding to an impersonal string of instructions from the voxbox while being more remotely assessed. In terms of a scientific experiment, a psychologically "cleaner" acquisition of data, and therefore a truer test result.

  13. Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

    Teaching learners to use a satnav has merits. But so does teaching learners how to drive on the motorway - the last "big thing" that was going to revolutionise the driving test, and one with much more merit than testing using a model of satnav they'll probably never own themselves..

    My big concern - and everyone posting above is missing this entirely - is that the government wants to improve the pass rate and bring waiting times down. It stated this in the original email alert. Removing most of the existing manoeuvres and replacing them with tasks which pretty much anyone should be able to master is a further dumbing down.

    The standard of driving is already bad enough on our roads. That ISN'T a result of bad training or poorly targeted testing - it's just bad attitudes. But what happens when you put a bad attitude on the road with even fewer skills than it has now? The average boy racer is going to still want to turn around because he missed his turning for McDonalds because he was going to fast, talking to his mates, and fiddling with his stereo. At least if he had the skills there's slightly less risk he's going to cause an accident.

    Pretend as we might, there is no way most ADIs are going to teach things that aren't on the test. Even if some of the old hands carry on teaching TIR when it isn't tested, newer ADIs definitely won't and even more certainly not in two years' time after it is all water under the bridge. And will the old hands still do it when their pupils start complaining about it (because of what their mates have told them) and they risk losing those pupils?

    In my opinion, the test should be longer and examine ALL of the manoeuvres. And learners should be allowed on motorways - that's far more important. But none of that will win any votes, so instead it is just trying to play silly beggars with a 40 minute test slot and trying to artificially bump the pass rate up to 80% or more with a reduction in driving ability. A bit like GCSEs really.

    • Replies to Angus McFadden>

      Comment by FRANCIS BECK posted on

      Good post from Angus McFadden. Quite right about the urgent need for motorway training . When I was teaching I tried to teach 'safe driving for life' not just pass rates and driving round test routes. I also taught the use of correct arm signals,{ still relevant when you see their misuse}.
      I've never used a satnav but I was able to witness the use of one when I took a rare recent London taxi from Lancaster Gate to Charing Cross. When the driver turned left at Marble Arch instead of driving down The Mall I suddenly realised that the driver didnt actually know the way to Charing Cross station and was using a SATNAV! We crawled through the busiest and congested part of west end theatre land during the rush hour and eventually arrived an hour late. I actually felt sorry for the driver { not a black cab }.

  14. Comment by Mick Handy posted on

    This may or may not apply here? As a PCV (Bus) Driving Instructor, Part of the driving test includes an independent drive where the delegate has to follow road signs for a set period of time to determine they can safely drive whilst reading directional information. Not sure if this is part of the car test now?? If it isn't, then instead of the use of Sat Navs, would this not be more beneficial than taking their eyes of the road (as a novice), therefore adding to more pressure for them? If it is part of the test, then isn't this enough to determine their ability to follow road signs, then when experienced, use a Sat Nav when they feel more comfortable?
    I know we will all feel differently about this, but Sat Navs are a personal choice of an individual who can cope with these or not?? The driving test is nervous enough for pupils without these extras?

  15. Comment by Sarah posted on

    I totally agree with Angus McFadden, there are enough bad drivers on the road without having more of them, and I have wanted to see a test with all the manoeuvres for years. I also agree that we should be able to take our learners on the motorway before they get their full licence. They want better pass rates, they need better training. All aspects of driving covered with the possibility of being tested on anything they have learnt. Isn't that what testing is all about?

  16. Comment by Ahad posted on

    Reading all the above negative comments about the use of sat navs, I wonder how many of these are from ADIs who are participating in the trial - very few, if any at all is my guess. I'm an old fuddy- duddy who cherished his A-Z road map, and planned his long journeys using an atlas. I'm now converted to using sat navs and I don't find it necessary to look at the device for guidance. In fact, I don't even have it on the windscreen. That way I'm more focused on the road. And if we keep in mind that these devices are not infallible, then we are prepared for those occasions when they try to lead us astray! I'm sure the experienced driver I saw the other day coming out the wrong way of a one-way street wasn't misguided by his sat nav: that street has been one-way forever!

  17. Comment by Lesley Young posted on

    I’ve read with interest your comments on the blog about the pros and cons of using sat navs.

    The trial isn’t about whether sat navs should be used as opposed to maps or road signs, but about making sure that new drivers are taught to prioritise and manage distractions. Whether it’s phone calls, noisy passengers or following a sat nav – teaching them how to manage those kind of distractions but still keep their concentration on the road around them is what we’re trying to instil.

    It’s all well to just say it’s too difficult for learners or they shouldn’t be encouraged to use a sat nav, but the fact is they will. It’s therefore better that they’re taught to deal with this safely than leave it to chance.

    If you’re reading this as an ADI, I would encourage you and your candidates to take part in the trial. At the end of the day, we need the feedback and experience of a wide variety of views to ensure that we make the right decision on the future of the driving test.

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    • Replies to Lesley Young>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      Lesley, there is no way that a 40 minute driving test can "make sure that new drivers [can] prioritise and manage distractions".

      Historically, the test has focused on making sure the candidate has all the skills required to handle the vehicle and typical road conditions, with the caveat that a pass certificate is only the beginning, and that the learning continues once they start driving on their own. Examiners used to actually tell candidates that.

      Independent driving is a good idea, but it would have been a great idea if it hadn't seen the sacrifice of one of the manoeuvres in order to squeeze it in.

      This current trial is going to sacrifice all the other "difficult" stuff that many candidates struggle with - even though that stuff demands specific vehicle and road handling skills - and replace it with things that my cat could do. That is NOT progress.

      The government wants to increase the pass rate and bring waiting times down. It has stated that in the media. Making the test even easier will achieve both of those things, and that is what is at the root of these trials.

      But it will be at the cost of putting people on the roads who have poorer overall driving ability than those who passed in previous years. There's no point being able to use a sat nav if you can't handle the car properly.

      Distracted driving is a massive issue in all civilised countries. It is mind-boggling that government agencies should be encouraging distractions instead of discouraging them, especially when in doing so other skills will be swept by the wayside.

  18. Comment by Simon Pickett ADI posted on

    It needs to be a few more years yet before Sat Navs are introduced on a driving test, because sat navs often give the wrong directions and information. Therefore Sat Navs needs to be improved before they are used for the purpose of a driving test. Also are all ADI,s and examiners going to use the same sat nav and software loaded on it ? And who is the DVSA expecting to pay for a good decent Sat Nav and the yearly updates needed on it ?? Are they going to issue every ADI with this ? Or is the ADI going to have to pay. The later is probably going to be the case. Also some of the older ADI,s may not use or able to use Sat Navs, so who is going to provide their training for this. Good idea but more thought and time and questions need to be answered before Sat Navs are even considered for use on tests.

  19. Comment by Simon Pickett ADI posted on

    Also I agree with the comments made where the sat nav is a distraction and eyes should be kept on the road rather than keep looking down at a sat nav, therefore this can not contribute to road safety.

  20. Comment by Gary posted on

    I totally agree, I drive a Renault Clio 64 plate with a sat nav build in & this is not always accurate on the roads & can be very distracting & confusing for the best of drivers let alone learners,possibly kept & introduced on pass plus

  21. Comment by Mike Hilditch posted on

    Mike Hilditch ADI
    I am currently a very busy ADI. I retired from Greater Manchester Police in 2005 after 31 years service, 26 of those on Traffic and Motorway Units. I have passed numerous driving courses on motorcycles, LGV, and off road. I cannot for the life of me understand why we would want to teach pupils to park offside to the kerb. Moving off from such a position is DANGEROUS. Imagine a pupil having just passed their test, parking offside to the kerb, they return to the vehicle and as they are starting to pull out with no view, they hit a cyclist and knock him/her into oncoming traffic. If the cyclist God forbid should die, the pupil will be arrested for causing death by careless driving.(Possible 5yrs prison). I can envisage instructors and the person at the DVSA who agrees to the proposal to teach this appearing as a witness in Crown or Coroners Court?
    I have explained this to police, fire and ambulance personnel and members of the public, including my pupils, NOBODY thinks this is a good idea.
    If this is introduced I will return my badge immediately. Does the Transport Minister want his children being taught to do this?
    I would ask someone from the DVSA to contact me.

    • Replies to Mike Hilditch>

      Comment by Tim Clayton posted on

      Assessing where to park is a vital part of the sequence of parking safely. Doing so will minimize the likelihood of danger when returning to traffic, but cannot eliminate it—in the same way that controlling our own car perfectly cannot guarantee we will never be involved in a crash. I am not as experienced in "serious traffic situations" as Mr Hilditch but, while it remains legal to park on either side of the road, or to perform a U-turn at a mini roundabout (or a number of other more-risky manoeuvres, including switching on headlights on a Ford Focus), I think to not teach it could be dilatory.

  22. Comment by Gerard Kirby posted on

    There are flaws in the new test trials without doubt , but it is a more realistic test than the current one , as an ADI who is currently doing both test with my pupils I find the sat nav part a very important introduction as it represent what new drivers will have to contend with after they pass thier test with distractions. However I do agree with with other posts regarding pulling up on the right then driving off, this in my opinion should be removed from the test trials as its not the safest option , driving into a bay then reversing out , this one has a mixed opinion I personally reverse into a bay whilst parking but you just need to go to any public car park and see how many drive in then reverse out so again it becomes more realistic which is why the turn in the road and left reverse around a corner have been replaced as these skills are not used so much after passing of test

    • Replies to Gerard Kirby>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      The sat-nav trials should for be an AS WELL AS part of the test, not an INSTEAD OF.

      Test people on sat-nav use by all means. But don't do it at the expense of core vehicle handling skills, which turn in the road and corner reverse are examples.

      One thing I have noticed is that anyone who is involved with the trials seems to automatically support everything that is involved, instead of stepping back and looking at the whole picture. Therefore, they don't ask themselves if losing "hard" manoeuvres and replacing them with "easy" ones is detrimental to overall driving standards.

      There is no way that turn in the road and corner reverse are comparable with driving forwards into a bay and using a sat-nav as far as required skills go. It's akin to arguing that people who can use a spreadsheet or a calculator are the same as those who can ALSO use log tables and a slide rule.

      They're not the same thing.

  23. Comment by Otis posted on

    Sat nav idea to me is farsical. You need a basic knowledge of where you are going otherwise they can be a hindrance. This technology will give way to new advanced methods.
    The drive in and reverse out depends on how it will be executed. I stiil feel that this proved car control and the ability to reverse.
    To my mind there should be more emphasis on control of the vehicle and speed awareness.

  24. Comment by Carol Hodge posted on

    I'm an ADI and have impaired hearing. I don't like to use sat nav because I can't hear it properly ( I have to lip read a lot!) and I find that just a quick glance at the sat nav screen is often not long enough to determine the next instruction. I'm reluctant to spend more than a moment glancing at it and concerned that other deaf or hearing impaired people may have the same problem. How would this aspect affect a deaf person on their test?
    Also, in a lesson, if I can't hear it properly I'm going to have to spend more time looking at it rather than looking at all the other zillion things we need to keep an eye on...