It used to be that what learner drivers dreaded most about the driving test was the three point turn. In quiet cul de sacs all over the land, L-drivers spent hours laboriously repeating one three point after another in the hope of achieving mastery and perfection. But things are set to change, and it’s possible that the 3 point turn may no longer feature in a new driving test to be piloted in the UK, and tried out on 1000 learners.
The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is behind the move to modernisation, and it’s a move thoroughly endorsed by the DIA (Driving Instructors Association). With the last update to the practical test having taken place 20 years ago, it’s time for a change. Driving instructors and examiners agree that that today’s test needs to be modernised to reflect current road based risks – and of course to ensure that drivers manage those risks with appropriate diligence and confidence.
Other manoeuvres such as reversing round a corner might also be jettisoned in favour of candidates being required to show their skill at rejoining a flow of traffic from a side road, or reversing in and out of parking bays. It’s also possible that the use of sat navs might feature in the new tests.
Overhauling the practical test is a subject of fierce debate. Over past months there have been heated discussions about introducing a graduated licensing system, along the lines of those already used in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A curfew prohibiting night driving, a restriction on the number of passengers that a learner is allowed to have in his/her car, and a tightening of alcohol limits are all ideas that have been aired in the hope of reducing the number of accidents on our roads. So too have plans to test new drivers on winter roads, and on motorways, both of which present hazards that are at the heart of many collisions. It’s a stark fact that 1/5 novice drivers have an accident within the first 6 months of passing their test.
In case you’re thinking this all sounds deeply unfair for the new driver who’s just past his/her test and has within their hands what many young people see as a passport to freedom, think again! The average insurance premium for an 18 year old driver is £1853. With more rigorous testing, these prohibitively high premiums might fall. What’s not to like about fewer accidents, better drivers and lower insurance premiums?