The Banbury Guardian sat down with driving instructor Neil Ridding, business owner of Nearway Driving Training at the Cherwell Business Village in Banbury, to see whether the changes go far enough or if the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) could have done more.
Neil said: “I generally agree with most of the changes. The sat nav driving is good because its more like real life, people are going to be using sat navs when they’re driving around after passing their test.
“Driving forwards into a bay is also good. The parallel park is a real life exercise that they will use when they pass.”
The removal of two, often problematic manoeuvres, also has Neil’s approval.
He said: “I think the whole reason they have done it and changed the manoeuvres is so they can spend more time out on more rural and high risk roads which are the roads people are killing themselves on after they’ve passed their test, rather than driving around a housing estate looking for a place to perform a three point turn.
He added: “By taking those manoeuvres out they can spend more time on driving which is what it is all about. People don’t die reversing around corners, they die by misjudging speed on the bends or incorrectly overtaking.”
The changes have been implemented after a public consultation in which 3,900 people were asked about the changes and a consultation with 4,300 learner drivers and over 860 driving instructors.
Last year the new test was piloted in driving examination centres across the UK.
Of all the changes there is one, however, that is causing some confusion with both instructors and learner drivers and has affectionately become known as the ‘nonsense manoeuvre’.
Neil said: “The only one I find slightly curious is you may be asked to pull up on the right hand side of the road, reverse two car lengths and then drive off.
“I find that slightly baffling as to why you would need to do that and we’ve had times when we’ve been practising that, in preparation for the new tests and it’s caused some confusion with the other road users.”
The manoeuvre is also a direct contravention of the highway code that states pulling up on the right hand side of the road should be avoided.
Students too are positive about the changes.
Neil said: “Most of our students are quite happy to do the new test. We actually have some who are hanging on for the new test. Not having to reverse around a corner or having to do a turn in the road, if that’s a manoeuvre you don’t get on with then wait a few weeks until the new test comes in.”
Laura Moody, one of Nearway’s student drivers, said: “I like the changes. They’re more like real life. I do struggle with the pull up on the right exercise especially as road users have been confused when I’ve been practising it.”
Due to the fact that the main foundation of the driving test remain unchanged and the scoring system is still the same, a student driver will pass the test if they make no more than 15 driving faults and no serious or dangerous faults. No new laws were needed to push the changes through parliament.
Neil said: “It would be nice to see the possibility of driving on the motorway for learners. They keep saying that’s going to be brought in.
“Also maybe have some element of programming the sat nav as at the moment the examiner will do all the programming for you.”
The theory test remains unchanged in the shake-up.