The new UK driving test: The pro's and con's
Is the new driving test really producing better drivers?
As we know, as of December last year, the new UK driving test came into play in the hope that new drivers will be safer and more independent on the roads. Adding onto that, as of June this year, learner drivers were allowed on the motorway with an approved driving instructor to produce more independent and confident drivers, this encouraged new drivers to not avoid the motorway as they have had the experience as a learner.
As a recap, here were the changes to the test:
- Independent driving time increased from 10 minutes to 20 minutes
- Following directions from a Sat Nav (one in five driving tests won't use a Sat Nav)
- Changed reversing manoeuvres. Turn in the road and reverse around a corner were replaced with either parallel parking, park into a bay or pulling up on the right and reversing two car lengths back
- Answering a vehicle safety question while driving, a show me question will be asked while your driving, and a tell me question is asked before you start driving
Why were they changing it?
Purely because road collisions are the biggest killer especially with younger drivers, and so the DVSA set out to reduce the number of young people killed in collisions. The most fatal collisions happen on high speed roads, with regards to changing the test, it allows more of these types of roads to be included in driving test routes. 52% of car drivers now own a Sat Nav, for some reason they assume everyone will have one so they train them to use them "safely" (I would love to know how you can use a Sat Nav dangerously) Research has shown that the extension in independent driving has been deemed as valuable and they can relate it to driving after they pass.
So, is it working?
There are yet no numbers I can find to prove that it is producing safer drivers statistically, however from personal experience I can tell you a few things.
Ultimately, it is set out to produce safer and more confident drivers, and there is no doubt in my mind that it does. The fail rates are now as high as ever, and driving instructors are becoming frustrated that their pupils can't pass with flying colours. Why are people failing? Because it's vigilant. Driving examiners need to be absolutely certain that the driver is a safe one in order to reduce the number of road collisions in the first place, they have to be really picky. Plus, it is still in it's early stages, driving instructors now need to learn themselves through pupil after pupil what is the most common mistake, what examiners like to see and pulling tips and tricks out of the hat to make passing a lot easier. Because the driving test is now a lot harder to pass, it means they have to go away, practice on what went wrong and they come back to prove themselves a better driver, and as a result, it is unlikely they will make that mistake again.
It took myself 3 attempts to pass, and what went wrong, I improved on again and again until those mistakes were resolved and I never made them again since. I believe that I am a safe driver myself, because the test is so rigorous, you are more aware, less careless than others and you're constantly aware of dangers around you, and that is exactly the kind of traits the DVSA want in new drivers. When more drivers go through the new test and soon people who took the old test will fade into the background, there will be more safe drivers on the road and ultimately as a result, will reduce the number of high speed collisions. So yes, I guess you could say it is working.
- The new test is putting off some people from driving at all (conspiracy theory, they're trying to reduce global warming by keeping more drivers off the road, scaring them into not taking the new test cause it's too difficult)
- More people are failing (Another conspiracy alert, they made it harder to pass so everyone fails and have to pay more and more to retake their tests, so the DVSA are basically robbing us blind)
- Sat Navs, yes okay they're helpful for when you need to know where you're going, but they're unreliable, annoying and just no one likes them. And I'm still baffled that the DVSA claim that we need to know how to use them "safely"
"Don't that's really unsafe, press the screen gently otherwise it'll key your car"