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Learner drivers put to the (new) test

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has confirmed this week that a 10-minute independent driving session will be introduced into the driving test from Monday (4 October). This means that candidates will have to demonstrate they can drive safely and make decisions without instruction from the examiner.

It is hoped that this new element will help to create safer drivers, who can think for themselves when setting out on the roads with their sparkling new drivers licence.

Learning to drive is probably one of the most important but nerve-wracking things anyone has to do. There was something admittedly comforting about being told which way to turn etc. in the current test, and being able to print out test routes to practice beforehand (candidates will also no longer be able to access test routes online).

We imagine many new drivers who have recently passed under the current driving test will be thinking things like: was my test not as good?  Are the people passing the new test better or safer drivers than me?

We believe that the answer to that is no. The test is not harder, according to the DSA, but it does cover a different but very important aspect of driving – independence, which the DSA believes is already taught by good instructors anyway. The 10-minute session may give new drivers a little bit of a head-start but they are still going to go through pretty much the same learning process as those who have passed the current test; they are equipped with the right skills, but still need to build the independence and confidence it takes to become a good driver, and that takes time and practice, practice, practice…

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