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New driving test 2017: A guide to what has changed

Part of the driving test is being changed for 2017 and a couple of manoeuvres are being removed. Here is a guide to what is new and when it will come into action.

There is one thing that stands between you and car-based freedom and that is a man with a clipboard. Well, two if you count the theory test. Soon there will be a revised driving test that you really should know about.

So what does the new test entail, should you be worried and what has been taken away? Recombu Cars delved into the fineprint of the Government details to see what's what.

Whilst we have your attention, here are some rather useful tips on how to pass your practical test first time and how to pass your theory test first time. Or if you have just passed, you could maybe improve your skills with this.

What is the reason for the new test?

To make drivers safer out of the gate and keep the test current. To quote the official government spiel: "The changes are designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving."

When is the new driving test arriving?

The new driving test changes start from the 4th of December, 2017. It affects England, Scotland and Wales and will only affect car driving tests to begin with, meaning other vehicle types will be subjected to the changes but at a later date.

What's new in the practical driving test?

The independent driving section of the practical driving test currently involves 10 minutes of driving while following turn-by-turn instructions from an instructor. In the new test, this has been doubled to 20 minutes – nearly half of the whole 45-minute test period.

What about the new driving test sat nav stuff?

Part of the reason for increasing the length of the independent driving section is to include an element of following the sat nav, supposedly because it is a standard fixture on so many cars nowadays but possibly because of the motorists who blindly followed them into a river. Or through six countries.

The Government stipulates 'most' candidates (but not all) will be asked to follow the sat nav instructions for the duration of the independent element of the test. A TomTom Start 52 will be provided by the examiner so there is no need to provide your own.

The reason for the 'most' part is because one in five tests won't use a sat nav, according to the government. In other words, there is an 80 per cent chance you will be under the instruction of a talking gadget.

Can I bring my own sat nav?

If you are thinking of bringing along your own sat nav device, don't bother. The rules state very clearly that you can only follow the instructions of the sat nav provided by the instructor, presumably to keep things constant (and help TomTom sales).

Does it matter if I don't follow the sat nav instructions?

Obviously ignoring your instructor and going to a McDonald's drive-thru will probably hinder your chances of passing (unless they are really hungry perhaps), but taking a different route by accident is considered acceptable. What will be an issue is if you commit a driving fault during your drive.

What about the new reversing manoeuvres?

The good news is that the new driving test does away with two of the more painful (and terrifying) reversing manoeuvres. One is the reverse around a corner, which is something most people rarely use, and the other is a turn-in-the-road – also known as the three-point turn.

You will end up with one of three other reversing maneouvres instead, such as the parrallel park at the side of the road, park in a bay (either driving in and reversing out or or reversing in and driving out) and pulling up on the side of the road and reversing for two car lengths before rejoining traffic.

The Government says your instructor should still teach you the two other manoeuvres because although reversing around a corner is not so useful, three-point turns can be a life-saver. And being good at both suggests you are on the way to being a confident and competent driver.

What about answering a safety question?

You are good at guessing what's new, have you read this before? Anyway, while driving your instructor will ask you a 'tell me' question, which involves asking you to tell the instructor about a safety element of your car before you start driving.

A 'tell me' question could be to explain how to check the oil level, how to check the brakes are working, how to check if the headlights are working or even check the tail lights are working.

The second question will be of the 'show me' variety. You will be be asked to show how to perform a safety task while driving such as using the windscreen washer and wipers. Pretty simple stuff if your instructor is half-decent and you have had a reasonable number of lessons.

Is there a new driving test for seniors over 70/80/90/100?

This question seems to come up a lot, but nothing has changed when it comes to retests. It appears to stem from the fact elderly people are supposedly the most dangerous motorists. In actual fact, young whippersnappers are the most troublesome by a substantial margin.

There is an argument to be made for adjusting the health check element though, which lets elderly drivers decide whether they are fit to drive. Currently, it is possible for some older motorists to continue driving indefinitely even though they are technically unfit to do so.

What about driving on the motorway?

Currently, learners are meant to learn motorway driving after passing or as part of the Pass Plus test, which can help reduce the cost of car insurance.

Now the Government has said that, as of 2018 onwards, learners will be subjected to motorway driving before they pass to ensure they are safer drivers. As things stand, it will not be a part of the practical driving test.

The move has been welcomed by various safety groups because the whole motorway thing can be dangerous and daunting for inexperienced drivers.

TLDR: Can you summarise?

You should probably, you know, bone up (no laughing back there) on all elements of driving if you wish to pass with the fewest tests because it will save you money, effort and time. But if you are really lazy, the Government has made a video outlining what is new.

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