Sunday 8 October 2017
I've been having a look through the changes to the driving test and it certainly makes for interesting reading. I think overall the changes are a good thing and much more representative of everyday driving after passing the test. First off the bat is the increase in the independent driving to 20 minutes. This is a much more realistic test of normal everyday driving than being told exactly where to go all the time. Pupils have to be able to make their own decisions when they're out there on the road and this is examined to a higher standard with a longer independent drive.
Following directions sat nav is also an important skill to be examined. The majority of drivers use them nowadays and I must admit I found sat navs really distracting when I first started to use them. I nearly hit the kerb once as I was watching the little car on the display instead of looking through the windscreen. I also noticed I was defering to the device to let me know about speed limits instead of looking out for signs. I reckon I'll buy the model that's being used on test so my pupils are familiar with the layout on the screen. This could make for some interesting lessons as well. Less time giving directions could mean more time observing how the pupil will actually drive after their test leading to more useful and realistic instruction and coaching.
When it comes to the manoeuvres I would be loathe to remove the turn in the road. I regard this as a useful manoeuvre and it's certainly a commonly used one. It's a road blocker when being practiced which is a pain for the local folk but I will still continue to teach this one to a good standard. Good riddance to the left hand reverse I think. This is the one that pupils were the most skeptical about asking when they would use it after the test. This is probably a bigger pain to local residents than the turn in the road as it occurs at junctions and is somewhat unexpected. Many times I have asked my pupil to move forward out of the way of people trying to turn left.
Driving forward and reversing out of a parking bay is a welcome addition. This is what people do so they can get the shopping in the boot rather than reversing into the bay so it's good to get it right pre-test. I see many motorists reversing out of bays without any idea where they should be looking.
The most controversial new addition is pulling up on the right, reversing back 2 car lengths and rejoining traffic. Depending on the volume of traffic this could be well tricky. It is something that people do when pulling up outside shops and things so good to see it being tested. I haven't started doing this yet so some solo practice is in order before I include it in lessons.
Asking one of the show me tell me questions on the move is a good idea. Even the best pupils seem to have trouble with headlights and wiper switches when on the move even after the questions have been gone over in a car park. They just seem to forget where everything is once we're driving about. Good to have driving test candidates think about two things at once.
All in all I think the changes are a good thing and help reflect the ways of modern driving. Let's hear it for progress and realism!