Driving test changes: what driving instructors need to know

We’ve announced that the driving test will change from 4 December 2017, and in this post, I want to explain more about how the changes will affect driving instructors.

The 4 main changes to the test resulting from the consultation and trial are:

  • the independent driving part of the test will increase from 10 to 20 minutes
  • most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav
  • the reverse manoeuvres that are tested will be updated
  • one ‘show me’ question will be asked while the candidate is driving

You can read more details about the 4 changes.

In this blog post, I want to explain more about the sat nav, reverse manoeuvres and 'show me' question.

Following directions from a sat nav

Following directions from a sat nav is a significant change to the current test.

Just as there were lots of questions when we originally introduced the independent driving part of the test, we know there'll be questions about how using a sat nav will work.

DVSA will provide the sat nav for the test

The examiner will provide the sat nav and set it up using one of the stored test routes. The candidate won’t need to touch it.

We've been working with potential suppliers to find and buy a suitable sat nav. We'll award a contract very soon, and let you know which make and model of sat nav we'll be using.

However, I want to emphasise again that it doesn't matter which sat nav you use for practice. It could be a built in sat nav, mobile phone or stand alone sat nav. We’re not testing the ability set a route in a sat nav - just the ability to follow directions from one.

Positioning the sat nav

The examiner will make sure the sat nav is positioned appropriately and safely.

In most cases, we won’t fix the sat nav to the windscreen - it will be on a special dash-mat so it doesn't move or fall off. However, due to the design of some vehicles, there will be some cases where we need to mount it to the windscreen.

Powering the sat nav

We’ll be able to give more information about how we’ll power the sat nav once we’ve awarded the contract to the supplier.

Welsh language for sat navs

Some people asked about Welsh language sat navs during the consultation.

It’s something we investigated, but unfortunately, there isn’t a Welsh language sat nav on the market at the moment.

As our announcement explains, 1 in 5 candidates will be asked to follow traffic signs instead of directions from a sat nav.

We’ll continue watching the market. If a product becomes available, we’ll consider if it can be used and let you know.

Support from organisations who represent drivers with a disability

Many disabled drivers use sat nav systems on a regular basis to help them drive independently and the changes being brought in will make sure that they know how to use these systems safely. They will also ensure that all drivers are better equipped to drive on a wider variety of roads, and carry out an updated set of manoeuvres that are part of everybody’s day to day driving.

The revised practical driving test will make Britain’s roads safer, and raise the overall standard of driving, therefore it is something that Disabled Motoring UK fully supports.

Graham Footer, CEO Disabled Motoring UK.

You can also read a detailed write-up of the demonstration we gave to the British Deaf Association.

Reverse manoeuvres

We'll use a wide variety of carparks for the bay parking exercise, such hotels, retail parks and supermarkets. Our driving test centre managers are finding the most suitable car parks for each test centre.

We're also talking to national car parking organisations to agree a joint approach to using car parks for this part of the test.

Pulling up on the right

We know some of you had strong views about pulling up on the right.

While The Highway Code advises to not park against the flow of traffic during the day, it's very important to remember that it's an entirely legal manoeuvre.

On our busy roads, there will be times when a driver needs to pull up on the right - and they need to have the knowledge and skills to do it safely. It's vital to use a safe and systematic routine, including observations and appropriate signals.  These are the skills we'll be assessing.

It’s also important that drivers know and understand what factors to take into consideration when looking for a safe, legal and convenient place to stop or park. For example, a busy main road with a constant flow of traffic would not be safe or convenient.

The candidate will need to use their understanding of these factors to choose an appropriate place to pull up on the right, when asked by the examiner.

'Show me, tell me' questions

Some responses to the consultation raised concerns about asking a ‘show me’ question while the candidate is driving. The main points raised were that it could:

  • be a distraction
  • cause an issue for candidates with special needs
  • affect people unfamiliar with the layout of the car

I believe asking a 'show me' question whilst driving will be valuable preparation for types of things drivers need to do safely while driving. If someone has passed their test and is driving on the motorway, they can't pull over to switch on their headlights.

We demonstrated the changes to the British Deaf Association, Disabled Motoring UK and the Dyspraxia Foundation in November 2015. These organisations supported the changes and were satisfied that we’d considered any issues.

To meet the national standard for driving cars, you must be able to familiarise yourself with a vehicle if it's the first time you've driven it. This is an important part of being a safe and responsible driver.

We've published the new list of 7 'show me' questions and 14 'tell me' questions that can be used from 4 December 2017.

Examiner documents and guidance

We'll update the driving test report form (DL25) and guidance for driving examiners carrying out driving tests (DT1) to take account of the changes.

We’ll make these available before December.

ADI part 2 test

The driving instructor national associations suggested that the driving test changes are replicated in the ADI part 2 (driving ability) test.

We’ll consult with people who train instructors about doing this.

It would make sure instructors are familiar with the test their pupils will take and have been tested on the same skills.

If you have more questions

I hope this blog post has addressed most questions you have at this point.

However, please leave any questions you have in the comments below. It'll help us to make sure you've got all the information you'll need ahead of the change.

We're excited about introducing these changes to the test, and helping a new generation of drivers to have the skills and knowledge to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.

Make sure you're signed up for email alerts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates about the changes.


  1. Driving Instructor Bolton

    Money making, changing a driving test for no other reason than an increase in revenue. We have some of the safest roads in the world and accidents will happen( Human Error). DVSA lining their pockets again.

    Link to this comment
  2. david poole

    Have to say the lead time you have given on this is pretty impressive, giving new learners the chance to understand the what is required right from the outset of their learning.

    Link to this comment
  3. Mike Mead

    Will there be a 'transitional period' for the new test or will it just be a single change on 4th December?

    Link to this comment
    • John (DVSA)

      Hi Mike

      There won't be a transitional period - it will be a single change, with all car learner drivers taking the new test from Monday 4 December 2017.

      Link to this comment

    The revised show/tell questions. Are they in addition to the existing show/tell questions, or are they replacement of the existing questions. I feel have both sets might be confusing to some.

    Link to this comment
  5. John

    Are ADI'S getting the same discount from the sat nav supplier if they purchase the same one. There are more ADI'S than examiners after all.

    Link to this comment
    • John (DVSA)

      Hi John.

      It doesn't matter which sat nav you use for practice. It could be a built-in sat nav, mobile phone or stand alone sat nav. It's up to ADIs to choose the product that will works for them and their pupils.

      Link to this comment
  6. Dave Allen

    As most retailers with car parks operate 7 days a week and indeed some 24 hrs a day.
    It may possible for larger organisations such as yourself and the large national schools to obtain or pay for suitable car park practice areas but it as already become an issue for smaller indipendant ADI 🚘
    In certain areas around the country. !

    Link to this comment
    • Peter Hall

      I totally agree with Dave Allen. If the DVSA and larger National Driving schools are allowed to practice in hotel car parks and supermarket car parks etc., it is only fair independent ADI's be allowed to do the same. Otherwise the independents are being discriminated against.

      Link to this comment
  7. Mark edwards

    Does this apply to the NIR lgv/ PCV BE instructors

    Link to this comment
  8. Kate Fennelly

    Is it true that 20% of the tests being conducted will be run as the old test ?
    If so why is this

    Link to this comment
    • John (DVSA)

      Hi Kate

      The changes will apply to all car driving tests. However, one in 5 tests won’t use a sat nav - you’ll need to follow traffic signs instead.

      Link to this comment
  9. David Davies

    As I said in the online consultation, I think the sat nav plans are a bit of a red herring. In my view the biggest danger caused by them is from people fiddling with them on the move. Obviously no-one will do so during a test. It's like the 'protocol' of switching off mobile phones before test. Why?! They won't do so after they have passed. A candidate who has their phone with them should be asked to keep it on. See if they answer it or pick it up when it rings!

    Removing left reverse on the grounds that nobody needs to turn around anymore, thanks to sat nav, is preposterous. Whoever thought of that has clearly never used sat nav! And 14 of my current 22 pupils live in cul-de-sacs! I will still be teaching it, because it IS still needed, but I'm glad it's coming out of the test, because despite our best efforts, people worry about it far too much. More "real" parking is a good idea, though, as is pulling over on the right.

    As for making the test more realistic, WHY is the emergency stop still in there? It is completely and utterly unrealistic, and therefore a total waste of time. The only way an examiner will ever know how a candidate will react in an emergency is if a real one occurs during the test. And I couldn't believe it on BBC Breakfast this morning when Sally Nugent asked an ADI, "Will we still have this?", as she slapped her papers on the table in front of her, and he said "yes"! It drives me mad when they still do that in TV soaps, sitcoms and adverts. How long has it been now - twenty years? Dashboard slapping had certainly ended before I started ADI training 14 years ago.

    Overall I think the changes are good, but the sat nav as it will be used will not address the real dangers of them. As for mobile phones, their use in cars must be banned completely, and as soon as possible. The main danger lies the distraction of holding a disembodied conversation, not whether or not the thing is in your hand. And unfortunately this is the biggest example of what people do during driving lessons and on their test, differing completely from what they do afterwards (with the possible exception of tailgating).

    Link to this comment
  10. Darren ward

    Right reverse maybe legal but is a manoeuvre more suited to van drivers and not commonly used in the real world. A better way would be to adopt part of the taxi test saying on the move that we need to turn around to go back can you turn the car around in a safe manner and give them choice of how they do it ( left reverse, turn in road or using the mouth of junction) and observe control and all round observation as well as ability to pick safe location

    Link to this comment
  11. Lee Ellerd-Elliott

    To improve driving standards, the changes to the current test will make no difference whatsoever. When students pass the test, they very rarely drive how they were taught and if we took them out 6 months after they passed, I guarantee none if them would drive how we taught them. The solution to this would be to bring in compulsory re-testing every 10 (every 5 years would be impossible to implement) years when the photocard licence has to be renewed. That way drivers would have to have a couple of lessons prior to the retest to hopefully refresh the good habits they've lost. I know it doesn't mean that they will keep up the standards required but it's better than the 53 years (if someone passes at 17) before anyone thinks of looking at their driving ability.

    Link to this comment
  12. Mike Hilditch

    I cannot believe that you have gone ahead with the stopping on the right manoeuvre. How many times have you had to brake or take evasive action when a car is pulling out of a line of cars parked offside to the kerb with no view. This is surely a contradiction of 'TO HELP YOU THROUGH A LIFETIME OF SAFE DRIVING'. With the huge increase in the number of people cycling we should be stopping people parking on the offside thus preventing collisions and reducing injury. As a retired police officer of 31 yrs, 26yrs a police Class 1 Advanced Driver I am fully aware it is legal during the day,but an error resulting in serious injury or worse could have very serious consequences for the driver pulling out. Solve the problem, DO NOT PARK ON THE RIGHT.

    Link to this comment
  13. Mike Francis

    I have been driving for 58 years and never once have I found it necessary to park facing the oncoming traffic. I consider this to be a potentially dangerous manoeuvre and really can't understand why the DVSA thinks it is going to improve road safety .

    Link to this comment
  14. Pat Lawrence

    25 years I have been doing this job and for all the changes the DVSA keep introducing it still makes no difference whatsoever how a student/pupil learns. The main problem I believe that students have is how to drive the car, sounds obvious I know, but that's the reality, they struggle when to change gear, when to slow down/stop in meet situations and to grasp judgement correctly, plus responding quickly to changing situations. If we spent more time teaching them how to drive correctly and safely and to improve their confidence and experience and less time worrying about where the dip stick is then this would be far better then all these ridiculous changes to the test. And if the local councils improved road signs and marking, and stupid people didn't park their cars right on the corner of junctions then this would also help. And if every other driver out there drove safely and correctly then it would be easier for everyone, oh and if motor car manufacturers stopped builiding cars that can be driven at high speed then would that would also help. Plus I reckon if mum and dad were aware their children need upwards of 50 lessons and not 20 " like what I had " then that would also help.

    Link to this comment
  15. Mike Bennett

    Any Changes to test are great if it leads to road safety and its good that the manouvres have been changed to more useful ones I also believe the emergency stop is outdated . With regards to using the sat nav there is alot of debate going on at the moment about all of these built in electronic devices causing distraction and I'm wondering why its neccesary to test someone on who to use a sat nav since I for one rarely use one as I tend to drive to the same old places every day.

    Link to this comment
  16. Paul McArdle

    Nice little earner for Sat-nav manufacturers.
    Forces over 40,000 driving instructors to invest in a Sat-nav.
    Don't see reason for removing turn-in-road one of the most useful manouvres you need to be able to perform. Should have been left in test even just as a rarely used option.

    Link to this comment
  17. Paul Carter

    I fully agree to the new test because it is far more realistic, however whilst we are changing the test this might be the time to change test timings, with a minimum of 60 minutes on road drive, plus one manoeuvre allowing a maximum of 75 minutes overall . Most road deaths are on fast country roads which cannot be tested at many test centre's because of location. The above timing's will allow the examiner in many more locations to assess this type of driving . Our test centre rarely used these type of roads therefore did not have the opportunity to assess the above because of the of test route's used at the time. However because of major roadwork's route's was re designed using national speed limit roads with sharp bends for approximately 15 minutes and I could not believe how many ADI's was commenting about candidates losing control with ETA Fails for traveling far too fast on the approach to blind bends. , I thought we all taught these skills but not in all cases. Once the ADI's realised the change in route taken and starting teaching in these particular area's, I am sure the fault reduced drastically. This really concern's me. I know you assess this in location's whenever possible but with the extended time this would allow the the above to be assessed at many more centre's and hopefully promote safe driving for life.
    Far too many youngsters are losing their lives whilst driving on the above roads and we must therefore show a duty of care to all road users and the above would certainly help.

    Link to this comment
  18. Gary s

    It would be nice to have somewhere to practice the manoeuvres without it being frowned upon by most of the General puplic.

    Link to this comment
  19. Peter Gent

    Satnav great when your lost. BUT using it , lots of practice. Mine says turn right / left in xxx yards, Most students would take the next turn without thinking, peoples drive / one way streets / No Entry etc.. I will teach. oops coach them, but not a good idea.

    Link to this comment
  20. David Utting

    New drivers should NOT be encouraged to drive in and reverse out of a space. It is FAR safer to do the opposite, especially in supermarket car parks, where there maybe children, people with trolleys and other vehicles moving behind, which may be hidden by the vehicle in the next bay.

    Link to this comment
  21. John Hackett

    I can only see this Sat Nav part of the test being a failure it is fraught with danger. The position it is placed either on the screen or a pad is questionable. Can it hide a cyclist, motor cyclist will it fall off. The batteries will only last for a short time so it will require being plugged in to the power plug with a wire hanging down.yes some cars will have them fitted but surely it is a distraction. The object of the test is to show that you can drive with your full concentration on driving and not listening to or looking at a screen causing a distraction. As a retired senior police traffic officer and Examiner with the then DSA . On this occasion who ever thought this one up is wrong.

    Link to this comment