Read all about the new driving test!

driver hand reaching for sat nav screen inside car


You may have heard a rumour that the driving test is changing. Well, it is indeed changing, and that means learner drivers in England, Scotland and Wales will have to deal with some new challenges!

Testing times

The new test begins on Monday 4 December 2017.* So, what will this mean for learner drivers taking their test on or after this date?

1) Independence day

The independent-driving part of the test is being extended and will now last up to 20 minutes. Basically, this means that almost half of the driving test will be spent without following turn-by-turn directions from the driving examiner.

2) Drive by satellite

We’re sure you’ve read our rather wonderful post** about this, but if you haven’t, here’s what you need to know about this aspect of independent driving:

  • During the independent-driving part of your test, you may be asked to follow instructions from a sat-nav. In fact, four out of every five tests will now use a sat-nav, so make sure you get as much practice as possible before the big day.

  • You won’t need to worry about setting the destination, and you don’t need to bring your own sat-nav – this will all be done by the driving examiner.

Unfortunately, this does mean there’ll be no celebrity voices giving you directions, so you can rule out Bonnie Tyler telling you to ‘turn around’ or Bon Jovi crooning that you’re ‘halfway there’.

OK, let’s stop the awful puns and dad rock references now!

REMEMBER: Your examiner only records driving faults. So, if you go in the wrong direction, but do so without making any mistakes in your driving, the examiner won’t record any faults.
For example, if you signal left but turn right, the examiner will record a fault. But if you signal left and then turn left, you won’t have made a fault (even if the left turn means you’re going in the wrong direction!).

3) Reversing tradition

The traditional ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ (or ‘three-point turn’ to us oldies) manoeuvres will no longer be tested.

However, you’ll still be asked to do one of the following:

  • parallel park at the side of the road

  • park in a bay – either drive in and reverse out, or reverse in and drive out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do

  • pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and re-join the traffic.

If you’re at all worried or unsure about this, then the best advice we can give you is to keep practising. Oh, and talk to your driving instructor – it’s what you’re paying them for, after all.

4) Show me, tell me

The final changes to the test are to the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. You’ll be asked two vehicle safety questions during your driving test:

  • a ‘tell me’ question – where you’ll explain how to carry out a safety task. You’ll be asked this question at the start of your test, before you start driving

  • a ‘show me’ question – where you’ll show how to carry out a safety task while you’re driving. For example, this might be showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers.

The full list of potential questions can be found here.

A word about the future…

Don’t think that we’re just going to leave you sweating – we’ll be back with more info, hints and tips about the new driving test in future posts, so please check back regularly or keep an eye out for updates on our Facebook page.

And remember, if you’ve just started lessons, then whizz over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up the latest edition of The Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Drive. We’ve lovingly packed it full of essential advice and guidance for the learner, and it explains what’s changing in the test from December 2017. I know we’re biased, but we think it’s a pretty good deal!

* The driving test works differently in Northern Ireland. More details about that can be found here.

** Check it out – it’s full of fantastic tips from an actual living, breathing examiner!