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. 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.

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  2. Mike Mead

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

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    • 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.

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    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.

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  4. 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.

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    • 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.

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  5. 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. !

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  6. Mark edwards

    Does this apply to the NIR lgv/ PCV BE instructors

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  7. Kate Fennelly

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

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    • 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.

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  8. 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).

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  9. 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

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  10. 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.

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