New driving test would lead to a ‘massive change’

Driving Instructor Paul Whittaker. EMN-150802-183243001
Driving Instructor Paul Whittaker. EMN-150802-183243001

A Sleaford-area driving instructor has spoken of a ‘massive’ shake-up to the practical test, ahead of it being trialled in the county.

Paul Whitaker, from Helpringham, runs Ideal Drive and is keen to raise awareness of the proposed shift in approach.

He said: “It is going to be a massive change.”

The current driving test, he explained, is 38-40 minutes long and includes one reversing exercise, possibly an emergency stop and a period of independent driving.

The new test would be the same duration, but include 20 minutes of sat-nav driving, with no three-point turn or left reverse manoeuvre (although it may include a reverse out of a bay or a parking on the wrong side of the road exercise).

Mr Whitaker said the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is concerned about inexperienced drivers coping with faster roads and motorways and, as such, the new test would put more emphasis on skills needed in such environments.

Mr Whitaker said: “It is a trial run this year with Lincoln being one of 20 test centres chosen to try it out from April.

“TheDVLA is trying to get 3,000 people in the country to volunteer to do it the new way and it will run until the end of the year. The results will then be analysed and then the rest of the country will change in the New Year if the results are positive and the outcomes see road safety improved.”

He said: “This trial is occurring throughout the UK and is the biggest change to the driving test ever. Although the new trialled driving test is a step in the right direction the test is (in my opinion) still too short to really give a thorough assessment of a person’s driving ability.”

He added he would prefer to see the test strike a more equal balance between faster roads and slower urban driving manoeuvres.