LONDON April 15: Learners will have to show they can use a satnav in a shake-up of the driving test.
Rather than reading road signs, they will be expected to follow directions from a device on the dashboard.
The change to the practical driving test is one of several announced today in the biggest overhaul for more than 20 years, Daily Mail reported.
Learners will no longer do a three-point turn in the road or reverse around a corner. Instead, they will park in a bay and reverse out as if they were ‘in a B&Q car park’. Ministers said the changes were designed to modernise the test and cut the number of accidents on the roads.
Last night, however, AA president Edmund King said every driver should have to take the traditional ‘follow signs’ element of the test without the help of a navigation device.
He added: ‘Following signs is a stricter test of a driver’s skill than satnav. They have to be very observant, ask themselves where they need to position themselves, and prepare to turn or avoid a bus lane.
‘We’ve had plenty of cases where people go down one-way streets because the satnav is not up to date or road layout has changed. When satnav goes wrong, people can get really stuck.
‘There’s a risk of becoming over dependent on satnav. It tells you to turn left or turn right at a junction. But when you follow signs, you have to be mentally, physically and psychologically alert.’
The new test, to be used from December 4, follows a two-year consultation and trials with thousands of drivers.
Other key changes include novices having to carry out safety manoeuvres – such as switching on the rear window heater – while driving instead of before the test.
The ‘independent driving’ section will also be increased from ten to 20 minutes.
Instead of focusing on slow speed manoeuvres in quiet roads, the changes will allow examiners to assess the learners’ ability in busier areas, where new drivers have more crashes, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency said.
The practical test will still take about 40 minutes and the £62 cost will stay the same. Currently, learners are told to follow signs to a specific destination while their driving is assessed. But in four out of five of the new tests they will instead follow directions from a satnav along a route set by the instructor.
NEW ADD ONS
Doubling 'independent driving' part of the test from ten to 20 minutes
Asking candidates to follow directions on a satnav as an alternative to following road signs
Driving into and reversing out of a parking bay
Asking one of the two vehicle safety questions - such as how to switch on the rear window heater - while the candidate is actually driving
The three-point turn
Reversing around a corner
Driving slowly around housing estates
In the remaining cases, they will drive to a destination as before. They will not know in advance which test they face.
Half of drivers own a satnav and the consultation showed widespread support for training motorists to use them.