Driving Test Changes

Over time, the way that we drive has changed—and so, the driving test itself has changed too. Since testing was first made compulsory in 1934, new additions to the test have included the theory test in 1996 and the hazard perception test in 2002. The practical test has changed too: in 2010, an independent driving section was introduced, and the number of required manoeuvres was reduced from two to one.

This December will see a number of changes introduced to driving tests across England, Scotland and Wales.

Why are driving tests changing?

The DVSA have highlighted one key reason for making changes to the driving test: to reduce the number of young people killed in road collisions, which currently account for over a quarter of all deaths amongst 15–19-year-olds.

It’s feared that the existing driving test does not do enough to properly prepare young learners for the reality of the road. For starters, the current test format includes few high-speed roads, where the majority of fatal road collisions occur. Meanwhile, the independent driving section—which is valuable experience for a learner—makes up just 10 minutes of a 40-minute test. Current tests also fail to take into account the use of sat navs—and as 52% of drivers now use sat navs, it’s important that new drivers know how to use them safely and avoid being distracted by them.

What changes are being made?

From December 4th, four changes are being made to car driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales.

1. Longer independent driving section

Currently, the independent driving section of the practical test lasts just 10 minutes, or roughly a quarter of the total time of a practical test. This section is now being extended to 20 minutes, meaning it will take up roughly half of the test. During this section, you’ll have to drive without directions from the examiner—meaning this is a real test of your skill and driving judgement.

2. Sat navs become part of most tests

For the first time, the independent driving section of most practical tests will involve following directions from a sat nav. You won’t need to provide your own—the examiner will provide a sat nav and set it up for you. You must use the sat nav that’s been provided; you won’t be able to follow directions from your own sat nav or smartphone.

Though the examiner won’t provide you with turn-by-turn directions during this section, you can still ask them to confirm where you’re going if you’re unsure. It’s okay to go the wrong way, as long as you don’t make any driving faults.

It’s also important to note that whilst the majority of driving tests will now involve the use of a sat nav, one in five tests won’t. If your test does not involve a sat nav, you’ll need to follow traffic signs instead.

Check out our dedicated guide to driving tests with a sat nav.

3. Changes to reversing manoeuvres

In the current driving test, a pupil will need to carry out one of the following manoeuvres: a turn in the road, reversing around a corner, parallel parking, or bay parking.

The new driving test from December 4th will see this change. Whilst your instructor should still teach you how to turn in the road and reverse around a corner, you’ll no longer be tested on either of these two. Instead, you’ll have to perform one of the following manoeuvres:

  • parallel parking at the side of the road
  • bay parking—either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out
  • pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing for two car lengths, and rejoining traffic

4. “Show me” question while driving

At the moment, drivers are currently asked two vehicle safety questions before they begin driving. These questions concern car maintenance and safety, and failing to answer correctly counts as a driving fault against the candidate. As these questions generally start with the words “show me” or “tell me”, this section of the test is known as the “show me, tell me” part of the driving test.

Changes to the test mean that the first of these two questions—the “tell me” question, where you explain how to carry out a safety task—will be asked before you start driving. The second question—the “show me” question, where you demonstrate how to carry out a safety task—will now be asked while you’re driving. Check out the DVSA website for the full list of possible questions you may be asked.

What is staying the same?

Even though the independent driving section of the test is being lengthened, the overall time of your driving test will stay the same, with a total driving time of about 40 minutes.

The test will also be marked in the same way—and the list of driving faults won’t change. The pass mark will also stay the same—you’ll need to make fewer than 16 driving faults, and no serious or dangerous faults, in order to pass.

The cost of a driving test will stay at £62, or £75 if you’re taking your test on an evening, weekend, or bank holiday.

No changes are being planned to the theory test, and for the moment only car practical tests are affected—tests for other vehicles will remain the same until further notice.

Will these changes affect me?

If you’re taking your test from December 4th onwards, then yes—you’ll need to be able to adapt to the new requirements.

Luckily, booking a test through PassMeFast means you’ll be learning to drive with an experienced, qualified and DVSA-approved driving instructor—ensuring you’ll gain the skills you need to pass. We cover all a wide range of practical test centres, with courses in both manual and automatic cars.

Could I still pass my test before December?

Yes! Whilst the standard waiting time for practical test dates can be months long, PassMeFast offers fast-track practical tests, which means you could get passed in just a few short weeks.

Here at PassMeFast, we offer a wide range of intensive courses suited to learners of any experience level—even if you’re a complete beginner. To learn more about how our courses work, check out our guide to crash courses. You can also visit the PassMeFast blog to get informed about all the latest test updates, plus useful advice to help you pass first time.

Want to chat to a member of our team and find out more? Simply contact us via our web form, or call us on 0333 123 4949.