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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

6 months since the driving test changed

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving test, Learning to drive

Driving examiner setting up a sat nav

In January, Lesley Young shared some early findings of the changes to the test with you. If you missed this blog post, I’d recommend that you go back and read it.

Lesley gave some really good advice on making sure your pupils are using a sat nav effectively during their test. She also stressed the importance of making sure your pupils can safely operate controls on the move.

It’s now 6 months after the driving test changed and the latest driver and rider testing statistics have been published today (Thursday 28 June 2018). So, I thought it was a good opportunity to share the early impact of the changes with you and give some advice on how you can better prepare your pupils.

Driving test pass rate

The new test was designed to be more reflective of real life driving and situations new drivers will face once they’ve passed their test. Better assessing these skills during the test will help drivers stay safer on our roads.

There’s only been a small reduction of 1.4 percentage points (45.4%) compared to last year (46.8%). We expect this to increase once candidates and instructors become more familiar with the new test and how it’s conducted.

We’ll continue to monitor the impact of the changes to the test by surveying new drivers 6 months after passing their test, and by reviewing the road casualty statistics and driving test statistics.

I’d like to thank you for all your hard work in making sure you and your pupils were prepared for the test changes and responding well to the new challenges presented as part of the test.

Top 5 serious driving test faults

Despite the changes to the driving test, you’ll be interested to hear that the top 5 reasons for failing a driving test have not changed. I thought it’d be useful to give you some advice on how your pupils can avoid these.

Observations at junctions

During the test, your pupils will get a serious fault if they aren’t taking effective observations before emerging at junctions and emerge into the path of other vehicles. You should remind your pupils to look both ways to make sure it’s safe before proceeding.

Mirrors before changing direction

Another common fault pupils make is not remembering to use their mirrors, or only checking one of them. You should remind your pupils of the importance of always checking their mirrors effectively before doing things like changing lanes, signalling or increasing or decreasing speed. This is a simple mistake that can be easily prevented.

Moving off safely

Similarly, when your pupils are moving off from the side of the road, they need to make sure they look around, check their blind spots and indicate correctly.

Control when steering

Your pupils need to be able to maintain a steady course in normal driving during the test. Things like mounting the kerb while driving, or not following the contour of the kerb results in faults in this area.

Turning right at junctions

When approaching a junction and turning right, it’s important your pupils position their vehicle correctly. The vehicle shouldn't cut the corner when turning right. Your pupils should also watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists, and any pedestrians crossing the road.

Driving test timing study

In 2016, we carried out a timing study of the new test to make sure it fitted into the current test slot. The report found the test was slightly longer than before, so we committed to carrying out another timing study once our examiners were more familiar with the test and equipment.

This will help us make sure the driving test continues to be as efficient and effective as possible.

So, from 16 July 2018, we'll be carrying out a further timing study in around a third of our driving test centres across Great Britain. This will last for around 3 to 4 months.

Trained driving examiners will work in a team to monitor the overall time taken to conduct the test, and this might mean they sit in on some tests at your local test centre.

The aim of the study is to measure the overall time taken to conduct the test. I’d like to reassure you there won’t be any extra scrutiny of your pupils, but you might want to let them know they might have another examiner in the car during their test.

I hope you’ve found this blog post useful and I’d encourage you to talk to your pupils about the top 5 serious driving test faults and what they can do to avoid them.

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  1. Comment by Zahda posted on

    Very helpful

  2. Comment by S.J. EASTWOOD, Snr. posted on

    Re: Turning right at junctions

    Not only should the vehicle not cut the corner when turning right, but neither should it swing left - many drivers (including beginners) seem to greatly overestimate the inward tracking of the rear axle, and often therefore swing into the lane to their left before so doing, representing a seemingly unappreciated hazard when manoeuvring (especially towards cyclists who may be passing a seemingly stationary vehicle on the left).

  3. Comment by Clifford Pittam posted on

    It seems at last the driving test is coming up to modern driving standards, not before time, well done DVSA.
    But I must say I am glad I am retired from DSA as an SDE.

  4. Comment by Philip lockwood posted on

    Although it is five years since I retired as a driving instructor it's interesting that the same basic faults that would appear to catch pupils pupils out. Turning right cutting corners seem to me to be the most common fault, plus emerging to turn left out of a junction and only looking left after starting to emerge.

  5. Comment by T R Mortimer posted on

    "Cutting corners" is often done by experience drivers - and especially riders - where the whole scene is seen to be clear, when it avoids unfavourable cambers, pot-holes and puddles which might drench pedestrians. Road are roads, and are not made with paint-brushes. There is a notorious right turn in Portsmouth that used to be used in The Test in the days when I was allowed to teach driving as a totally unlicensed practitioner. Using the Piant-Prescribed route was dangerous on a motor- or push-bike, and uncomfortable for passengers in a car. Today's ill-maintained roads often require bending th rules to avoid bending machinery.

  6. Comment by Judy hale posted on

    Pulling into a vitually empty carpark and parking in 1st bay and then reversing out is neither safe nor productive i teach safe bay parking then i have to teach to a lower standard for the sake of the test

  7. Comment by Rod Came posted on

    Top 5 serious driving test faults - This is the sort of advice I would expect to be given to Mum, Dad and Uncle Fred not DVSA Approved Driving Instructors who have passed the supposedly 'rigorous' demands of a Standards Check.

    If some ADIs present candidates for test who cannot drive to a standard which gives them a very good likelihood of passing, what is after all, a rudimentary check of their ability, then the Standards Check is not sufficiently demanding. This is likely why the pass rate is consistently less than 50%, which frankly, is appalling.

    It really is time that DVSA raised the instructional standard required of ADIs, which will then ensure that learner drivers are being taught by professional instructors who provide in-depth driver training. This is a life skill and new drivers deserve the best.

  8. Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

    No issues whatsoever with the "new" test as such.

    However, I still think you should be including the possibility of turn in the road and corner reverse on the test. You said that you expected instructors to teach it anyway even though it wasn't being tested anymore. I pointed out several times they wouldn't do that.

    The only thing I can now say is that if they ARE teaching TIR and RRC, they're doing it in secret, because I haven't seen them doing it anymore - and we all know how many times you'd have to stop and wait when they were.

  9. Comment by Stephen Permutt posted on

    My views were expressed to "deaf" ears during the consultation process regarding the new practical driving test. I couldn't understand then and I most certainly still cannot understand why the reverse around the corner and the turn in the road, both manoeuvres constantly used in every day life, have been withdrawn from the practical driving test. I've even had pupils who have had to do these manoeuvres on their actual practical driving test because the situation has called for them to do so.

    These manoeuvres should have been retained and then a test candidate might be randomly asked to do one of these manoeuvres or maybe they wouldn't, precisely how the new current practical driving test is conducted.

    I've been an ADI for nearly 14 years and also have over 45 years driving experience, so, in my humble opinion, it makes no logical sense whatsoever to no longer include these very important manoeuvres as part of the practical driving test.

    I would like to conclude by expressing my approval regarding the new elements of the current practical driving test, although a duration time of 35/40 minutes is not long enough to fully assess someone's driving ability and something should be done to address this issue too.

  10. Comment by International driver posted on

    Sometimes examiners are not right when they mark certain actions as judgment mistakes !! Not sure if the examiners in the UK just want to pick up any mistake rather than a realistic assessment!! No wonder why we have licenced terrible drivers in the roads who commit terrible mistake once there is no camera or police !!!!

  11. Comment by Cynthia Yeboah posted on

    I think some of the examiners should have someone to check how and why they failed some people on manor things. Especially at this location ENFIELD. The way they failed people is really bad. If they are there to help than they should not take it so personal.

    There also should be someone you can make a complaint to..

  12. Comment by steve rawlings posted on

    good advice but cyclists need more training as well .they should be treated like any other road user and made aware of what they are doing wrong, not all but alot think they can just cycle how they like where they like. but the advice you gave is spot on.

  13. Comment by Jack posted on

    I presume this is April 1st advice, as it would never have occured to me!

    'You should remind your pupils to look both ways to make sure it’s safe before proceeding'

  14. Comment by Ivan Robert Westley posted on

    We keep trying to improve new drivers, but we still refuse to do anything about qualified drivers. This is all ages both genders and driving experience.
    The comment I hear most is," After you've passed it doesn't matter, you can do what you like." No wonder knew drivers get involved in accidents that they did not cause.
    We should introduce assessment of drivers every 5years through the Insurance companies and premiums set accordingly. If a drivers has major problems, they should be retested. Dangerous driving should be penalised by removing the car from the driver before they kill, it is to late afterwards. Driving Bans don't work, the loss of the car does.

  15. Comment by GM posted on

    All of the top 5 reasons for failing can be "easily prevented." I doubt there is a driving instructor in the land (even the ones you consider to present sub standard candidates) who doesn't teach pupils the fundamentals which underpin the ways to avoid failing in the categories listed. However, candidates do all sorts of uncharacteristic errors when they are in a test environment, and when people are psychologically affected by the context of the drive it is often the basics that go first. (Qualified drivers who are runnning late often drive differently to when they are not, and it isn't usually to a higher standard).

    An example of this, and a really common reason for not checking the mirrors before changing direction, is where a candidate gets into the wrong lane at a roundabout (or dual carriageway section), realise it and then make a snap descision to change it, and miss the mirror checks. Quite rightly this is a fail, but it is not because the candidate didn't know to check their mirrors, or that they don't usually do it, it was because they put themselves into a postion where they take a sudden (and therefore ill considered) action. So the problem was caused by failing to effectivley plan the route onto or through the roundabout or DC, but mirrors is the error recorded.

    Checking the blind spot is one of the very first things taught, and is re-emphasised on every single lesson, yet give a candidate on test a hill start and sometimes they focus so much on getting the control right they forget to check.

    Given this human element to the test, it is highly unlikely the top reasons for failing will ever change, no matter what tinkering is carried out on the test content.

  16. Comment by Graham Taylor ADI posted on

    I have always thought that bicycles should display number plates, and so be identifiable and accountable for their actions. I see many cyclists ignore traffic lights, often without even slowing down! Also the speed that these modern cyclists can travel - particularly downhills is a danger to other road users. I agree motorists should constantly be on the lookout for more vulnerable road users, but they should adhere to the rules of the road too.

  17. Comment by Daryl Evans posted on

    So ,stopping on the right and reversing two cars lengths is reflective of modern driving,really?

  18. Comment by Emma Ashley (ADI) posted on

    So, your blog post is telling us the impact of the new driving test? Pass rate hardly affected, so no real impact there. Top five faults not changed, so no real impact there either. Anything else? Nothing. Ok.

    You're going to survey new drivers after 6 months. You do realise that drivers have a very inflated idea of their own driving, don't you? How can someone who didn't drive before the new test know if they are better prepared for driving after the new test? It's like a pupil telling me I'm the best instructor ever when they've only been taught by me - gratifying but objectively worthless.

    You're going to review the casualty statistics. Will this take into account other road safety initiatives, education, engineering and enforcement? Probably not because as we have seen before the DVSA are too keen to take the credit for reductions in casualties when there is no definitive proof that they were the main architects e.g., the new theory test.

    Furthermore will the casualty statistics take into account whether they took the new or old test? If not, then it isn't going to tell you anything about the effect of the new test. Is it going to identify whether the accident was caused by one of the new, or dropped, elements of the test? If not, then the casualty statistics will not tell you anything about the effectiveness of the test.

    Serious accidents are caused by distractions, attitude, speed, lack of experience and misjudgement. None of the changes in the test address any of these. Fatal accidents rarely if ever happen because someone parked forward in a car park. Fatal accidents rarely if ever happen when people are pulling away from the right hand side of the road.

    This blog, like too many from the DVSA, is simply a means of self-congratulation and justification of meaningless, poorly thought out changes.